Scary article from the NY Times - Driven to Distraction - At 60 M.P.H.. Honestly, I can barely flip radio stations and drive at the same time, let alone check email/voice mails etc. I suppose most people who are like me put the cell phones away while driving, while everyone else is talking on the phone or texting and thinking they're doing just fine.
It scares me I'm on the road with people who are this reckless and careless. As my earlier saga with the car illustrated this past summer, people are trying to save themselves 10 to 20 minutes but in the meantime are costing the rest of us time and as this article points out, sometimes something much worse.
The article also comes with a game to test how distracted you are while driving and texting. I failed miserably. I can't text when I'm parked and concentrating 100% on the text, let alone while driving.
However, as I said, I think people who realize the dangers have already put away their cell phones. Everyone else thinks they're invincible or better than everyone else and nothing you say will ever convince them otherwise.
Is it just me or does the Dodge Charger remind anyone else of a shark? Seriously, every time I see one -- and I've been seeing a lot of them lately on Sweat Sock City highways -- I hear the "JAWS" theme. Please tell me it's not just me.
All you people on your cell phones who think you are driving really, really well? No, no, you're not. And yes, we can tell that you're talking on your phone while you're driving -- it's that obvious. So cut it out already. You're not cool, you're dangerous.
So I have to eat my words from yesterday as I decided to try traffic wave experiment aka "traffic jam reduction". I was convinced it wouldn't work in Sweat Sock City because honestly, whether it's a car or real estate, every free space in this city must be occupied; no two molecules of oxygen may flit and float without hindrance. I intentionally left about 15 seconds between my car and the car in front of me; my driver's ed teachers would be so proud. So I drove the speed limit, all the while maintaining the space. The space never really disappeared. It got smaller sometimes as I got closer to the traffic, but it never was less than 6 to 7 seconds in size. For the first time in months, I didn't need to apply my brakes at all on my commute home.
What fascinated me most was the fact this space was rarely taken advantage of by other drivers on the road. Even an 18-wheeler in the lane next to me didn't seem interested even though he could have easily fit. On the 25 miles to downtown, I saw maybe 5-6 cars take advantage of the open space and for the most part, they came from the lane on the right. It's as if the wide open space scared the other drivers; we're so used to being a culture where we try to jam as much as possible into a tight space that this concept of a 15-second space was foreign.
Of course this is all unscientific, based on one trial, and traffic for these past two weeks in Sweat Sock City has been light. I will continue to experiment and monitor. If this is indeed a true phenomena, then... WOW. Never (well, almost never) get stuck in traffic again.
I'm intrigued by this concept of hypermiling -- getting the most possible out of a gallon of gasoline. I read a story over the weekend where one guy got something like 150 miles per gallon, which completely blows my 32 miles per gallon right out of the water. Of course, he probably takes 80 million hours to get to work, and some of the techniques are not safe on a 70 mph (ha!) interstate, but I've been attempting some when it seems feasible, such as cruising to a red light or letting my foot off the gas on a "potential" slope. Since I drive about 50 miles RT a day, even a 10 percent reduction would be of benefit to me. I haven't tried reducing traffic jams yet, but boy if that works...*
* It's a fact that here in Sweat Sock City any open space, regardless of its size, will be immediately filled with a vehicle. If the vehicle is larger than the space, then tough cookies to the vehicle just to its rear. Passing on the right is also acceptable when a space immediately opens up, especially if it means crossing across four lanes of traffic at 80 mph.
I used the Cell Phone Lot of Sweat Sock City's international airport this evening while I was waiting to pick up a friend. I'd seen signs on previous trips and I was always like, "What's up with the Cell Phone Lot?" I finally learned on my last trip that it's a gigantic parking lot where you can go and park for free and wait for the person you're picking up to call you, thus eliminating the endless circling (a nightmare at big international airports) or actually parking your car and making the long haul to the terminal.
So this evening, I pulled in to the cell phone lot for the first time ever and took my place with about 30 to 40 other vehicles. At the far end of the lot was a little vending machine hut so you could get food if you needed to. Some people were walking around, including a father with his little boy who was wearing little sneakers with red lights on it. That was really fun to watch. Every now and then, a car would start up, its headlights streaking across the lot, and then it would pull out. I thought it was incredibly cute, because each departure from the lot signified an arrival.
My resolution for this year is to be a nicer driver. I mean, I don't think I'm a mean driver and road rage isn't something I experience (though I have been a victim once) but I do occasionally get impatient and once in a while, cut people off because I'm in a rush. So for the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to be nicer. I've been slowing down and letting people merge into traffic. What I'm learning though is that my actions are so foreign to people that they often don't get the hint, even when I blink my lights at them. They'll just sit there and eventually it gets to the point where I just give up. But still, I'm making the effort. My hope is that someone will remember that I let them in and they'll pass the favor on to someone else. Anything to make driving in Sweat Sock City a less miserable experience!