Traffic Light Outtage and You

March 8th, 2008

When a traffic light goes on the blink it’s a great illustration of how the average driver on the road today has no idea about the rules of the road. It just goes to show how poor our licensing programs truly are.

When you approach a traffic light that is blinking red at you, you treat it like a stop sign. When you approach a blinking yellow light you proceed with caution. You do NOT treat a flashing yellow light as a stop sign! If you approach a traffic light that is completely out with no lights at all, you treat it as a stop sign (likely a 4-way stop).

Generally, when a traffic light goes on the blink at an intersection, the primary route (most traffic flow) will flash yellow and the secondary route will flash red. When people treat the yellow flashing as a stop they mess up the natural flow and create gridlock. But it also creates a dangerous situation, too. When a person stops at a yellow and lets a car at the red go, the cars behind that car assume everybody has a red flashing light. So when the next car approaching the yellow proceeds through, the red side now thinks they’ll stop and creates a potential for collision.

Living in the worst traffic city in the US, I can tell you that when people don’t obey the laws during these times, it just creates total gridlock and chaos.

One thing that I’ve often wondered in these situations is why, if there’s enough power to flash the lights, can’t they just reset and function normally? Heck, even all of my home computers have power backup and continue to function normally, and there aren’t any lives at stake there.


Is It So Hard to Signal?

December 16th, 2007

Why is it that so many people have such a hard time signaling other drivers their intentions? Is it because their left hand is too busy supporting the cell phone to mess with those silly levers, or just total lack of respect?

Every day when I leave my office I have to start out at a traffic light that has another office complex on the other side. It takes 2.5 minutes for the light to finally turn green (time it sometime – extremely long for a light) and there are no left arrows. Both sides have traffic that only goes left or straight (the right turns have their own lane that merges). Since the light has two office complexes facing each other, very few people actually go straight, but every once in a while somebody will, so you have to assume they are if there’s no signal. Once the light turns green, it doesn’t stay green for very long, so if people don’t step up you end up facing yet another 2.5 minutes of wasted life.

Since I spend so much time sitting at this particular light waiting for it to finally turn green, I have a little extra time for observation. It’s my estimation that a full 20% of the drivers opposing each other refuse to use their signals to indicate they’re turning left even though they do turn left. The real rub is that since you can’t assume the person is going left, people have to cautiously pull forward until they know the oncoming traffic isn’t going straight. So as a result of all the inconsiderate drivers who don’t signal, I occasionally get to lose another 2.5 minutes of my life because they couldn’t bother to signal and allow traffic to flow on through quickly enough. Thanks, a lot. Really, it’s so nice to have the extra time to reflect on the kindness of the world.


The Mystery Lane Changer

December 15th, 2007

How many times has this happened to you? You’re driving on a highway (with at least 3 or 4 lanes) late at night when traffic is extremely light. There you are, cruising down the middle lane with nobody in sight except one car up ahead in the lane to your right. Once you get close to the other car and about to overtake them, they change lanes so they’re directly in front of you. No car in the emergency lane or anything. In fact, NOTHING on the road at all except them and you.

It just chaps my ass! Seriously, what is that person thinking? Sometimes I think it’s some grand conspiracy against me when that sort of thing happens. Are they just oblivious, or truly trying to be evil? If you’re one of those people, please let me know so at least I could have some insight as to what makes you tick.

I don’t know why it burns me up so badly. After all, it’s easy enough to just go around them since the road is otherwise empty. I guess it’s just the thought that people in the world are truly evil and do stuff like that purposefully just to get their jollies. Back in my youth, these people would have gotten a good old fashioned smoke screen from the emergency break as I passed by them. Now I realize they’re not worth the investment – tires are expensive! Instead I make sure they know I’m on the road, too. A little close passing sends a good message in my book, and windshield washer fluid is relatively cheap! :-)


Just Park Already!

December 14th, 2007

Where did we go wrong as a society that everybody just has to be right up front? Are people afraid that if they park in the first available spot they may burn up priceless calories from their supersize value meal from the extended walk to the door?

It nearly drives me insane when the land yacht in front of me puts their signal on in anticipation of getting the spot where the current occupants are loading up bags and what not. Meanwhile, there’s an empty space 5 spaces down! They could have parked, made it into the store and already selected several items for purchase by the time they made it into the “prized” spot. But more importantly, I could have made the same progress if they weren’t blocking the lane!

Nobody’s handing out prizes for the best parking spot! Just park your car in the first available spot and move on with your life so everybody else can, too. If that spot happens to be too far by your standards, then you most definitely need the exercise and should relish in that opportunity!

Don’t circle back around for a better spot, don’t stop in the middle of the lane and block everybody else. Just park your car, get your lazy ass out and walk. And while you’re at it, quit your yappin on the cell the whole while!


Teenage Driving Meets Technological Restriction

December 13th, 2007

Part of growing up is testing limits along the way. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon your perspective, testing limits in the car as a teenager may become a thing of the past.

With services like and other Event Data Recording devices (a review of a couple), teenagers aren’t going to be able to get away with much of anything much longer. The prices seem reasonably cheap enough that you’d think more people would be using them. It’s likely that the majority of the parents just don’t know the technology exists.

I think that if parents are going to use this technology, they should absolutely have full disclosure with their kids. After all, kids are going to speed and do crazy things, so installing a tracking system without telling them is just setting both the kid and parents up for failure.

I guess I’m okay with the idea that kids would have to think twice before doing something stupid, and it’d go a long way toward ensuring they mostly bide by the traffic laws. I think it’d be a good way to gain the needed experience before venturing down the real-world (no monitoring) testing of limits. But I also feel like it’s the parents responsibility to train their young drivers appropriately. Parents should take their kids out to big open dirt or ice lots and let them go wild trying out various maneuvers to get a feel for how the vehicle handles in different situations. Waiting to find that sort of thing out in a crisis is hardly the most efficient route.

I guess from a parent’s perspective, teenage driving has a lot more penalties these days than they used to. And parents are held much more accountable than the old days, too. So I could see where parents would be inclined to exercise caution.

The worst thing about this technology to me is the lack of privacy that comes with it. It’s one thing to ensure your child is being as safe as possible, but spying on their whereabouts 24/7 could be a little overbearing. Kids need room to grow and experience life on their own – making their own decisions and mistakes. Parents need to believe they’ve done their job well and extend the appropriate amount of trust. Otherwise, what’s the youth of today going to turn out like?

As the price of this technology continues to fall, it’ll only become more prevalent. I guess time will tell if the streets become a safer place as a result.

All I can say is (since I survived it) I’m glad this stuff wasn’t around when I was 16! Although I would have saved a lot of money on tires and clutches ;-).


Why Helmet and Seatbelt Laws Suck

December 9th, 2007

The biggest reason I don’t like laws like this is because they impede the natural selection process. It’s much like how welfare enables a society to live unnaturally above their means, until they can’t (Think Irish potato famine and the Malthusian Theory – <a href=””>Wiki it</a>). Creating laws to protect the stupid is, uh… wait for it… stupid. Keeping around stupid people just pollutes the blood lines. Maybe that’s why there are so many people who hang out in the left lane.

Seriously, if somebody wants to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, or drive a car without a seatbelt, that’s their own stupid choice. If they make it for a long time like that then maybe they really are very talented drivers, or perhaps just lucky. Laws are good for keeping people from doing malicious harm to others, but keeping people from being stupid and hurting themselves – NO. And don’t start in on how we the taxpayers have to cover their medical costs – that’s the failure of an entirely different system.

Regulation in general annoys me. I’m tired of the political correctness that continues to grow, and the ridiculous lawsuits that have crippled our once great nation. “Oh, I had no idea that spilling scolding coffee on my lap would scold me! It’s YOUR fault for selling it to me!” “I didn’t know combustible gas that runs my car could combust when I ran over that other car while dialing my cell phone. You sold me an unsafe car, so pay me millions!” Wake up, there are many things in life that are dangerous, and it’s not up to the government to be your Mom and tell you which ones they are. Take some responsibility. Yes, driving is dangerous and it shouldn’t become such a complacent activity for everybody.

Instead of laws, products and services should be created and evolved through competition and economics. People should demand quality and accept nothing less. And it’s YOUR responsibility to determine if something is safe for you. If somebody wants to make a piece of junk car and sell it, then they should be allowed to as long as there are stupid people who are willing to buy them.

Every new law created to police the stupid is another chip away at the freedoms of everybody. Man, now I’m in a foul mood. sigh.

At any rate, please wear your seatbelt because it’s the smart thing to do, not because it’s required.


The Dark Ages of Speeding Tickets

December 2nd, 2007

I’ve been pretty lucky for well more than a decade or so as far as speeding tickets go, but my luck finally ran out and I got nabbed. Of course, getting a ticket was a real bummer and all, but something very odd stood out to me in the process.

I’m not sure there’s been another decade of time that’s seen more technological advancement as we’ve seen in the past one. The way we operate on a daily basis has been changed forever. In our world of crazy gadgets and computers, we’re never far away from any answer – it’s just a matter of a few keystrokes (or touches with things like the iPhone!). Even the police have seemingly advanced. I haven’t seen a single police car for years that doesn’t have the laptop running in the center console. They have access to all kinds of relevant (and irrelevant!) information on you and everybody else.

So this is why getting my ticket stuck out so oddly to me. Why in the world does a police officer have to take my license and transfer my information in their craptastic handwriting, along with the barely legible law infractions and other details and then give me a carbon copy of it? The ticket I just recently got looks absolutely no different than the ones I got back in the 80s.

Since I got the ticket on my way to work, I called the number when I arrived at the office to find out how much I owed so I could put this experience behind me. Wait for it… Yep, you guessed it, the police office didn’t know anything about the ticket I received. They said to wait a few days for it to enter the system and call back. Are you kidding me? Is this some kind of jobs-creation program. Is there really some data entry clerk slowly working through stacks of paper, transferring the information into digital format so it can finally be accessed?

What’s the point of having a fancy license that has all of my personal information encoded in the magnetic stripe on the back, including my finger print, if they aren’t even going to use it. Am I to believe that this day and age, it’s too costly to put a reader and a printer in all of the cars? I mean, they figured out the laptop! Sure, perhaps all of the state licensing agencies don’t have some common format for license information – who’s fault is that? Fix it if that’s the case.

I’d hate to think that some pissed off data entry clerk transferring barely legible handwriting is in the position to incorrectly input the details of my offense. If they type a 98 instead of a 68 in the speed, that’d take somebody like me forever to get that corrected, and the insurance company probably wouldn’t believe me, either.

Oh, I guess there’s one more piece of the puzzle that, well, puzzles me. Once I finally got the amount I owed and the address to send it to, guess my surprise at “money order only.” So on top of all the other hassles, I now have to take the time to get, and pay for, a stupid money order. Oh, and then track down a stamp and an envelope to mail the thing. When was the last time you bought a stamp! I do everything online. If I could have just sent it from my online bank or paypal account, everybody would have been much happier.

So anyway, I just don’t understand such an archaic system. If there’s any deterrent from speeding, it’d be dealing with the complete and utter frustration of a system that hasn’t kept up with the times.


Clear Left Lane

November 25th, 2007

The single biggest motivation for putting this site together is my incredible frustration from people hanging out in the left lane on the highway. Each year it has gotten worse. The past few road trips I’ve taken I passed far more cars on the right than on the left.

It seems to have become almost an epidemic. I don’t know if it’s from increased traffic volume, ignorance, or just complete lack of respect for fellow drivers. My guess is that it’s a little bit of everything.

Well, traffic volume is certainly higher than it was 20 years ago, but the roads have gotten wider, too. I’m not convinced this is a huge factor because it’s not like volume is so great that all lanes need to be packed at all times. My sense is that the opportunity for people to move right hasn’t gotten worse, just more people choosing not to.

It would appear that just about anybody can get a license these days. Heck, I’ve only had one driving test in my entire life, and the picture on my current license is a joke I was so young (and that doesn’t expire for many more years). Maybe it’s similar to what’s happened in the school system where we can’t hurt anybody’s feelings so we’ll just coddle everybody. Some of the things I see on the road are so incredibly poor that they should be grounds for immediate license revocation on the spot. So there’s one vote for ignorance.

I definitely think that in general people have become more concerned about themselves rather than the greater good. And I think that’s compounded by the anonymity of being in a car. I get the vibe from a lot of left-laners that they couldn’t care less about the right thing to do, or that they should show any consideration for their fellow human at all. So I guess there’s one vote for lack of respect.

Another group of left-laners might be those who believe they’re making the world a better and safer place by slowing down those foolish speeders. While it’s nice and all to take an interest and helping out the greater good, they’d be better served sticking with neighborhood watch instead. I would argue that these people actually make the road MORE dangerous than less.

Regardless of why people do it, I don’t think they’ve really thought it out all that well. Make sure to view the Top 10 Reasons You Should NOT Hang Out in the Left Lane. There may be a couple of reasons you hadn’t considered before.

I’d really be curious to hear what your thoughts are about why people hang out in the left lane. If you’re one of them, please enlighten me.


Top 10 Reasons You Should NOT Hang Out in the Left Lane

November 25th, 2007
  1. You want people to pass you on the left because it’s safer. You have a much better view of what’s going on. If the overtaking vehicle swerves unexpectedly (think blown tire or squirrel), you’ll see it much faster and have a better chance of saving your hide. The right side of the car is the most difficult to monitor and you don’t want to be put in a blind position as an enraged driver passes you on that side.
  2. Sitting in the left lane opens you up to a much higher chance of a head-on collision. If a car in the opposite lane loses control and heads across the median (if there is one), you’ll have much less reaction time and space to avoid tragic results.
  3. If you’re the one losing control, you’re that much closer to on-coming traffic and have less options to deal with the emergency.
  4. You may think it’s saving the planet lots of fuel by making people drive slower, but the reality is, as people jocky for position trying to get around the clutter you caused, they’re accelerating and decelerating very inefficiently.
  5. If you get a flat tire or your car dies suddenly, there’s often nowhere to go in the left lane. If you were in the right lane where you belonged, it’d be much easier to make your way safely over to the emergency lane.
  6. There may be a legitimate reason for somebody speeding past you. What if a loved one was sitting next to you dying, while a left lane swatter prevents you from getting to the hospital more quickly – when seconds matter. What if the only person in the world capable of stopping an immanent nuclear explosion got caught up in your wake and missed defusing it by only seconds – way to go, jackass.
  7. The world is filled with people crazier than you! Road rage escalates to lethal levels far more often than it should. Do you want to be on the receiving end of that just to make a point? Putting yourself and your family at risk makes you no better than the people you’re trying to “contain.” Rage is a very dangerous emotion that breeds irrational thought. Don’t be foolish and think somebody wouldn’t be stupid enough to do something crazy. Enraged people are not necessarily stupid, just enraged. Some people control that better than others.
  8. People are going to speed regardless of your best efforts to thwart them. Becoming a barrier only puts lives at stake when you force them to take unnecessary actions to maneuver around you. Is your personal pride really worth somebody dying, or worse, an innocent bystander who is driving responsibly, dying from the now enraged driver’s actions? Sure, you can take the hard-line and say you didn’t “force” anybody to do something stupid, but if you weren’t there as a barrier it wouldn’t be an issue. Take some responsibility.)
  9. Clogging up the highway adds to the difficulty of emergency response vehicles from getting to their destination in a timely manner. What if that ambulance was coming to save you? Again, seconds often matter.
  10. Cars in the left lane get more scrutiny from law enforcement, as that’s where the speeders should be, theoretically at least. And if you’re doing the speed limit or less and you’re in the left lane, then you’re pretty much the definition of jackass.

For a fair and balanced argument, please view the Top 10 Reasons You Should Hang Out in the Left Lane.


Top 10 Reasons You Should Hang Out in the Left Lane

November 25th, 2007
  1. You never actually learned how to drive.
  2. You just don’t get it.
  3. You were dropped on your head as a child.
  4. You have a death wish.
  5. Angering people is a favorite pastime.
  6. You have no regard for your fellow human.
  7. You’re depressed and want to share the love.
  8. You forgot to take your meds for that mental disorder.
  9. You’re just plain ignorant or stubborn and most likely both.
  10. You took stupid is as stupid does to heart.

For a fair and balanced argument, please view the Top 10 Reasons You Should NOT Hang Out in the Left Lane.