Hasty, Puddin’

I’ve seen a couple of nasty crashes in the last four days, and, in both cases, they could have been prevented by people just slowing down. One was in a parking lot, for crying out loud.
Don’t get me wrong, I do get the thrill of driving fast, and, out on the open highway, I will confess that I’ve “opened ‘er up” on occasion. What I don’t get is this fascination with driving fast in town. There are so many stop lights, slower-moving cars, etc. that there really doesn’t seem to be any point.
Yet many’s the time that I’ve seen some rocket scientist careening through traffic, changing lanes haphazardly, jockeying for position, only to end up at the next stop light surrounded by all of the cars he (dangerously) passed. Here’s a little secret: during the day, the traffic signals are usually programmed to the posted speed limit. This means that if you speed, you’re going to usually hit more red lights than if you drive normally. (I’ve tested this out.) Sometimes there is a longer red light which allows time for the other drivers to mock the Vin Diesel wannabe. (I prefer the “sarcastic golf-clap” myself.)
There just doesn’t seem to be any purpose to it, and, again, it’s dangerous. (And hard on your brakes, engine, wastes gas, etc. etc. etc.)
However, some people still believe that they’re actually saving time by driving this way, so I wanted to examine this a bit.
Okay, let’s set up a perfect scenario for your morning commute, speedy. All of the other cars are going away. All of them. Stoplights, too. Gone. Stop signs. Garbage. Pedestrians. All home sick. Bicyclists. Pulled their hamstrings. Every one of them. We’re also going to straighten out your road. No curves or turns or any other pesky little things that might necessitate you lifting your foot off the gas at all between where you live and where you work.
Now, what’s an average in-town commute? Let’s high-ball it and say ten miles. If your commute is more than ten miles, you’re probably using one of the highways, anyway.
Okay, ten-mile commute with no stops or obstacles, got it? Let’s say that the speed limit is 30 miles per hour. That’s a pretty good average for busy streets (and it makes our math easy.)
Now, we know that, traveling at 30 miles an hour, it takes us an hour to drive 30 miles. (It does. Trust me. I’m a geek.)
Ten miles is one-third of that distance so it should take one-third of an hour to cover that distance. That’s twenty minutes.
Now, Bandit, let’s put the hammer down and go ten miles over the speed limit to 40 mph. You can manage that idealized ten-mile commute now in just 15 minutes. You save a whole 5 minutes! You can start writing that novel you’ve always wanted to write! Yay! (Of course, when we put all of the traffic and pedestrians and stoplights back, it will probably be a lot less.)
What? You say you want to go faster? Well, okay, Penelope Pitstop, let’s burn a little rubber. 50 miles per hour, here we go. It’s sure a good thing we’ve cleared the roads, because at 50 miles per hour you’re going to need at least 120 feet to stop if something is in your way. (That’s only a tennis court.)
Well, guess what, Andretti? You are a full three minutes faster than all those other so-called speed demons going 40, and a whole eight minutes faster than those poor shlubs who are actually bothering to obey the legal and safe standards. Woo-hoo! Eight minutes!
You can listen to that Rebecca Black song twice! (And you probably would, you friggin’ psychopath!)
So you know what, I totally get it now. It’s worth it to endanger your life, the lives of your passengers, the lives of pedestrians or pets, risk property damage, higher insurance rates and all of that to get where you’re going a few minutes (seconds) faster.
I apologize for all of the name calling earlier, and I feel that I should give you a round of applause.

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~ by badwolf1013 on April 11, 2011.

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