Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I’m the Slow-Ass Driver in Front of You

There is one law in this great land that just about no one cares if you break. I’m talking about the posted speed limits. Though drivers in Oregon are generally slower than most, you will often find the “normal flow of traffic” is above the speed limit. And, the cops don’t seem to care unless you are egregious, or they need to meet their quota soon. Despite this, I am the crazy radical who constantly keeps it two or three MPH below the limit, even when it is just a yellow advisory speed sign.

I Want to Live

I have a tank of a car. My Volvo, named “Lady Bits,” has been rear-ended pretty harshly (I was stopped at a red light) and didn’t even sustain a scratch. Nonetheless, it is not impenetrable.

For most of us, the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis is take to our nation’s freeways. We have been conditioned to think about driving as a necessary risk. Judging by how many of us text, talk on the phone, eat, and generally don’t pay attention to what we are doing, we don’t believe there is any risk to driving. And, sure, cars have gotten a lot safer since the pre-Unsafe at Any Speed days (Thank you, Ralph Nader), but there are still more than 30,000 of us dying on the roads every year.

That is equal to ten 9/11s. To put that in perspective, we have spent trillions of dollars and destroyed millions of lives trying to “right that wrong.” It is more than the combined deaths from domestic terrorism, lightning strikes, shark attacks, swine flu, Zika virus, and whatever the latest media scare is. 
If this driver had been going slower, he would have seen the tree jump in front of him.
Let’s Look at the Math

As a math geek, I like to look at the numbers. I do most of my driving in town: short half-hour trips at most. If I increased my speed five MPH, I would presumably only shave a couple minutes off of my trip. Of course, most of the lights in my town are timed to reward traveling at the speed limit, so I would really just put a lot more wear and tear on my tires and brakes, use up more gas, and really not get anywhere any faster.

It is different if you are traveling long distances on a freeway. Every increase of five MPH will save you about five minutes every hour (give or take a minute or so) since there are no lights. But, is the risk worth it?

For every MPH you decrease your speed, you increase your reaction times to any hazards in the roadway and increase the chances you will walk away from an accident. Is saving a few minutes here and there worth your life?
The smallest fender bender can cause your car to explode.
I Don’t Want to Give the Government Free Money

I am more than happy to pay my fair share of taxes. I think it is important for us to have a strong infrastructure, to educate our kids, to provide services for the downtrodden, and so on. However, our traffic fines do not go to these things. According to some guy’s blog that I came across in a quick-and-dirty Google search and trust because it’s a .org and has some official sounding name, your speeding ticket money goes to a whole lotta BS. I’m not poor, but I don’t have money laying around for such foolishness.

In summary, I drive slowly because I value my health and money. I’ve always been turned off by the macho alpha male, “gitter done” culture that is supposed to pressure me into driving like a moron. I prefer reason when making my decisions.

What are your thoughts?

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