May 09, 2005

Another "Duh!" Study

You either succumb to it or you get angry on a daily basis but the fact remains, traffic sucks. Many people will claim that their city is the worst by far when it comes to traffic problems but in reality, a lot of cities have issues. Of course, we have known this for a long time. We, the ones who drive in those cities every day, know this isn't exactly news.

Yet, someone got paid to conduct a study on traffic and concluded that traffic congestion is worse now than it has been in the past. DUH!

...Gridlock is getting worse. Congestion delayed travelers 79 million more hours and wasted 69 million more gallons of fuel in 2003 than in 2002, the Texas Transportation Institute's 2005 Urban Mobility Report found.

Overall in 2003, there were 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and 2.3 billion gallons of wasted fuel for a total cost of more than $63 billion...

They site the causes to cities who refuse to build more roads, wider roads, more lanes or improving operations as some cities have the belief that if they don't do that, people won't drive.

Give me a break. There are several other factors that cause these problems and it would behoove these cities to start paying attention to the average Joe who complains about the traffic. The average Joes are the ones who can tell you what is causing the problems and have suggestions in ways to combat these problems.

Yes, yes, so they don't have enough roads or lanes. A lot of cities also don't do a very good job of timing their lights. Time your lights right according to average traffic flow and you can cut down some time right there. Several cities have poorly designed exit/entrance ramps as well. There can be on ramps that are extremely short; offering very little time to get up to the speed of the traffic on the freeway and this causes problems. Some cities have their exit ramps on the left hand side of the road. Totally stupid. Now you have two "slow" lanes because of this. You also cause a lot of unnecessary lane changing when you have exit ramps on both sides of the road, especially for people from out of town.

Some cities have construction that causes problems and while construction is necessary, does it really need to take years to complete a stretch of road? I happen to know, from personal experience, a section of freeway in a city in the north that has been under construction for over a decade. That is ridiculous and unacceptable.

Then there are the roads that never get fixed. The roads have potholes, crumbling shoulders, excessive stoplights, etc. Some downtown areas are infested with one way streets which causes major problems because it makes it extraordinarily difficult to get where you need to go. You will have to drive two to three blocks out of your way before you turn to get on the one way street going back towards your destination and find parking. If you don't find parking? You get to do it again. That is causing a lot of absolutely unnecessary driving.

While these plans may have worked well 20 or 30 years ago, they do not work well with today's traffic. Plain and simple.

However, road issues aside, one of the biggest problems with congestion is that too many people do not know how to drive.

They don't know how to merge. Countless times I have seen people come to a complete stop on an entrance ramp to the freeway. Guess what? You aren't getting in. There is no way anyone is going to come to a screeching halt from 65 + mph just to let your timid ass in. You merge onto the freeway at the speed the traffic on the freeway is going. If you do that, the drivers have a better chance at slowing down a bit so that you can get in. Yes, you are the one who has to merge but we are also relying on the kindness of others to let us in.

Which poses another problem. There are far too many dickheads out there behind the wheel. The people who refuse to let anyone get in, get in front of them, pass them, whatever. The people who sit in the left lane and fail to pass any traffic, rather, stay even with the traffic in the other lanes. Everyone: The left lane is for passing. If you are not passing, get the FUCK out of the left lane. You do not need to play policeman and cop the attitude that "Well, the speed limit is 65 and that's what I'm doing so they can just get over it." You are causing problems. Before you get all uppity about speeders, remember, you are also breaking the law by sitting in the left lane and not passing anyone.

People change lanes for no reason. Seriously. I've driven many miles and I've observed people, on the freeways at night time when there were no cars around them, change lanes. They didn't change lanes to get out of someone's way or because they were going to get off the freeway any time soon or even to pass someone. They changed lanes just to change lanes. People are changing lanes way too much. Get on the road, stay in your damn lane, if you need to pass, pass and then get back over and stay in that damn lane. If your exit is coming up, change into that lane. But this constant back and forth, repeated lane changing also causes traffic problems.

People do not pay attention to what is going on around them. Far, far too many people concentrate only on the car right in front of them. It makes me want to smack them. You need to concentrate on the car in front of you, to the sides of you, behind you and you need to check what's going on far up ahead of you. Watch the driver's hands and head motions. They will tell you exactly what that person is going to do. If you pay attention to all of these things instead of yakking on your cell phone or shaving or applying make up or eating or reading a book, you will know what's going on and be able to antcipate actions that will be taken. If everyone did this, we would have much smoother traffic flows.

Driver's tests are becoming the biggest joke. Anymore you don't even have to speak English to get a driver's license. Now what kind of shit is that? If you can't read the fucking signs, you should not be driving. Period. It is not enough to read a translated driver's manual and pass the test in your language of choice. You need to know the language of the country you are driving in because those signs on the road, the ones you read, are written in the language of that country. Further, back in the day when we took our driving test, we were taken out on the public streets, sometimes on the highways or freeways and we had to pass by driving in real life situations. Now? Now they put you on a closed course with cones. Cones for God's sake! A fucking cone is not realistic. Deducting points for hitting a cone is not realistic. I don't want to be on the freeway going 65+ with someone who only really knows how to maneuver around a fucking set of cones! Cones do not leap out in front of you. Cones do not slam on their brakes. Cones do not ride your ass. Cones do not run red lights. Cones do not travel in single line packs going 65 mph asking you to merge in between them. Cones just sit there. We used to make jokes that driver's licenses were found in Cracker Jack's boxes but it seems that joke isn't too far from the truth. Anyone who can memorize a few questions (and not even in English if they don't want to), and can drive around some fricken inanimate CONES, can get a damn license!

THAT is what causes a lot of our traffic congestion these days. You've got people out there driving around who really only know how to drive around a damn parking lot of cones. Perhaps if we all painted our cars orange they might drive better as they feel more at home but we are not cones.

If people would be tested thoroughly, in English and in real world situations, if people would pay attention and stop showing off on their cell phones, if people would show a little more courtesy out on the roads instead of vying for "America's Next Top Prick", if people would remember that they are driving a 2000 pound vehicle; a deadly weapon in the hands of the wrong person, we would have less congestion.

So, the next time you see me flipping you off? It's because I've known for a long time that your stupidity is costing me money in gas and maintenance on my vehicle. Frankly, I'm tired of paying for stupid people.

As for the widening of roads or making new roads? That's not really going to help much. Oh sure it'll help a little but what happens is that the stupid people now just spread themselves out and no matter what, you are still going to have congestion.

Oh, and by the way, you do not need to rubberneck at every single car that is on the side of the road. A fender bender is not exciting and you do not need to stop your damn car and soak in a good look, holding up everyone behind you, before you decide you've had your fill and can then get the hell out of the way.

Now then...where's my check from the government for my "scientific" research?

Posted by S. Faolan Wolf at May 9, 2005 03:35 PM

I think I'm going to conduct a study that concludes that the longer the line the more likely that one is to become irritated.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at May 9, 2005 03:55 PM

Same here - immigrants who can't speak English getting licenses. The rule seems to be the slower the driver the quicker they move into the 'fast' lane.

Posted by: Ruth at May 10, 2005 12:08 AM

It's called "smart growth," and the traffic problems are honestly intentional. At least in North Carolina, they honestly WANT traffic to be bad to the government can control where you live and get you out of your nasty cars. Sad, but true.

Posted by: Ogre at May 10, 2005 08:34 AM
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