You Know, We’re Living in a Society!

There is one thing that sets us apart from animals. No, it’s not our ability to reason, or laugh, or use tools.

It’s our ability to make and obey traffic laws.

Most people fail at obeying traffic laws.  In every city I’ve ever driven, I have heard someone say that this particular city has the worst drivers.  And the funny thing is, they’re probably all correct.

I was on foot attempting to cross a street with no crosswalk yesterday, and there was a car approaching from my left who slowed and waved for me to go ahead.  They thought they were being courteous to me, and grew annoyed when I waved them on and refused to cross the street.  You see, there was a car coming from the opposite direction. So waving me across would have meant that I would have had to stop in the middle of the road and wait for the second car to pass.

This demonstrates the problem quite nicely.

The car that was trying to let me cross the road was aware of me, which is a sign that they were partially paying attention to their surroundings. Yet, that attention was selective, because they failed to consider what their action would mean for the car coming from the opposite direction.

Most drivers seem to think that they are the only car on the road.

This solipsistic approach to driving is killing my faith in the human race.

Sometimes I wonder what is covered in driving tests, because so many drivers seem to not be aware of the following:

1) Turn signals aren’t meant for you, they are meant for the other drivers on the road.

2) Speed limits aren’t meant to annoy you, they, particularly those set in populated areas, are determined for safety reasons, and not just your safety.

3) Lane markers aren’t a suggestion, they tell you where your car should be so you don’t collide with another car that may be on the road at the same time as you.

That fact that people use cell phones, send text messages, read the newspaper, watch movies, do their makeup, and any other activity that generally requires two hands just adds fuel to the fire.

Driving a car is not a particularly difficult task, yet we seem to take it for granted and don’t give it the proper respect it deserves.  A car is a weapon, a potentially deadly weapon, and driving should not just be considered a right or something we are entitled to.  It should be considered a privilege and one that we handle responsibly.

Otherwise nothing sets us apart from other animals.

Because we sure as hell aren’t rational.

Title of this blog entry can be attributed to George Costanza.

Title of this blog entry attributed to George Costanza.

4 thoughts on “You Know, We’re Living in a Society!

  1. I was watching Tales from the Crypt last night and the Crypt Keeper was giving driving lessons. He said he was going to teach us scare-allel parking.

    You forgot to discuss exceptions to traffic laws. Whilst in Memphis I often had to intentionally pull off illegal and dangerous moves while driving in order to prevent a massive collision because of the illegal and dangerous moves other drives were unintentionally committing.

    • Ah, very good point. Memphis is definitely the only city I’ve driven in where cars just stop in the middle of the road for absolutely no reason. Among other things. Anyway swerving has definitely become ubiquitous.

      And so the morons force all of the rest of us to drive like morons as well, thus ruining the hope of ever living in a civilized world.

  2. What I also think is interesting is that each city has different ways of driving stupidly. For example, in St. Louis people run red lights and pass REALLY slowly; in Denver people never use turn signals; in Milwaukee people drive slowly in the left lane with no intention of passing, and they zip around people who are waiting to turn left without pausing to notice if someone is also turning left from the other direction (I have seen this almost cause an accident several times). I also think it’s not just a U.S. thing – in Athens, people lay on their horns constantly (although I think horns are underused here); in Istanbul they completely disregard lanes; and in Bucharest it’s legal to use radar detectors, so they can go insanely fast until a cop is around (at least, the car I was in took this approach).

    • This sounds like a great idea for a book: “Stupid Drivers Around the World!” Based on these observations I’m inclined to think that bad driving is a cultural phenomenon, on par with cuisine or dress.

      People in Memphis also disregard lanes, but I think that it’s in part due to poor road conditions… and to avoid all of the a-holes that stop randomly. People in Philadelphia weave in and out of lanes at breakneck speed and without signaling, which happens everywhere, but in Philly it seems like everyone does it.

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