If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. An article in Jalopnik, “You Idiots Are Going To Kill People”, talks about the increase in traffic fatalities and speeding tickets during the pandemic. Because, sure, that’s just what we need right now — people driving like maniacs.
Theories range from it being due to there being less traffic, to thinking the cops might be avoiding contact due to the virus, to just general frustration and unrest in these strange times. (I do have a sense of social unraveling sometimes.)
I have to say, driving around I’ve seen it. Lots of speeders!
The article mentions that, in July, Ohio saw its deadliest month since 2007. In Vermont, in August, there were 43 traffic fatalities compared to 22 the previous August.
It getting insane. Quoting the article quoting the AP:
The Iowa State Patrol recorded a 101% increase from January through August over the four-year average in tickets for speeds exceeding 100 mph, along with a 75% increase in tickets for speeds of 25 mph or more over the posted speed limit.
California Highway Patrol officers issued more than 15,000 tickets from mid-March through Aug. 19 for speeds exceeding 100 mph, more than a 100% increase over the same time period a year ago. That includes a continuing spike from May on.
Okay, 15,000+ tickets for fools going faster than 100 mph? Yikes!
That same quote mentions a ticket issued in the Cincinnati area for someone going 147 mph.
I do love this paragraph from the article:
If your modern car detects you going over 120 mph around other living people in a public area, it should spontaneously combust inside. Most American cars used to come like that from the factory, though not intentionally.
These days you might blow out a head gasket, but cars these days are very capable of high speeds, especially the sportier models.
Like my Ford Fusion with the 3.6 liter sport package and (regrettably expensive) tires that look like fat rubber bands wrapped around the rims.
A car that I know from personal experience is fully capable of going 100 mph (90 almost effortlessly).
Not that I do normally, but one does need to know the full capabilities of one’s car. A brief test under safe conditions by an experienced driver with a strong sense of his capabilities is a risk I’m willing to take once or twice per vehicle I own.
(Even rental vehicles I’ll often find an empty parking lot or totally empty road for a quick, entirely legal, test of acceleration, braking, and general handling. That knowledge can come in handy if one gets into a dicey traffic situation. If I know a car is slow to respond, for instance, my driving “envelope” has to be bigger than for a more responsive car.)
FWIW, in 45+ years of driving, if I can deduct a few parking lot fender benders and one instance of bad luck, all in the first year or so I was learning, then I’ve never had an accident (and very few close calls).
I know I’m too aggressive of a driver to be called a good driver, but I do think, compared to most, I’m a skillful driver. Not on par with trained professionals and people who drive for a living, but maybe just a rung or two down?
In any event, experienced enough to never get over confident and to always, always, always pay full attention to the road.
I learned to drive in Los Angeles, the car capital of the USA, if not the world, so my sense of ability is well-earned and well-deserved, I think.
The decade or so I was driving around LA was the decade the other drivers shot at you if they didn’t like your driving.
It never seemed to be with the intention of actually hitting anyone. It was more a way of saying, “Hey! This is Los Angeles, and we take driving seriously around here! Drive Right!!”
I have to say, absent the shooting, driving in LA back then was a kind of cooperative dance that made the sheer volume of traffic work much better than it could have. But it really does take knowing how your “partners” will respond.
I’ve never really experienced that in other cities. I’ve been driving in the Twin Cities now for over 35 years, and I still can’t read the flow the way I could in LA. Drivers here continue to be far more unpredictable.
Although that, too, might be a sign of the times. Perhaps driving in the LA area is just as chaotic with just as large a spread of possible driver behaviors as I see here.
(I’m not sure that aspect has gotten worse, though, since I moved here in the mid-1980s. I noticed the lack of predictability right away. Honestly, to my LA-trained eyes, the drivers here are rank amateurs. The question might be whether LA, now, is filled with amateurs.)
I’ve wandered far from where I started and probably severely undermined the point I intended. (Which was: “Don’t speed!”)
But it’s my blog, and I’ll irony if I want to.
I was trained and steeped in Los Angeles (were you?), and I’ve taken driving very seriously all my life (do you?) — because it actually is a matter of life and death. It doesn’t get much more serious than that.
And it should go without saying to leave your damn cellphone OFF.
Let me emphasize the OFF part. I don’t want to hear about hands-free. Fuck that. You don’t need to chatter with someone who isn’t present while you pilot a 2000+ pound killing machine.
It’s actually not wise to chatter with someone who is present, but the one saving grace there is that a present person can see when the traffic situation requires more attention and pause the conversation while you drive.
Placing your attention out of the car with someone else is just plain stupid. (I’ll confess to driving a little faster than I should when I’m alone in the car and fully focused and conditions permit. When it comes to cellphones, as Meat Loaf famously sang, “But I won’t do that.”)
Turn your cellphone OFF. Enjoy the drive.
Enjoy living! And not killing anyone.
Stay under (or darn close to) the speed limit, my friends!