The Speed Limit Experiment

21 May

If you ask my lady lover what type of driver I am she will respond in a perturbed tone that I am the “aggressive” and “impatient” type. I respond to this bold accusation with the fact that since we have owned our car, I have driven over 99% of the miles. When the madam is at the helm it usually lasts about 15 minutes and ends with tears and sworn promises to never drive again.

The problem is that I don’t have the patience to sit idly while she participates in what she calls “cautious driving.” This swathe of defensive maneuvers includes yielding, maintaining the speed limit, and participating in a game of passive un-agressiveness. We’ve both known for a long time that it is best for me drive and for her to ride shotgun. However, her frequently offered deft comments about my excess speed and dangerous technique gnaw at my soul in a fashion unlike any other. For this reason, I decided to take a day off from Alpha status and enter the slow lane as a law abiding, flag flying American.

Rules are meant to be broken, and over the years I have probably broken most jurisdictions definition of a perfect citizen. Not surprisingly, the amount of thought I had to put into obeying traffic laws was mind blowing. The morning commute started off slow as I promptly checked my RPM’s and began the crawl (usually a sprint) to work. I encountered my first hurdle as I approached the freeway on-ramp and there, just like most mornings, was a yellow light staring me down as if it knew it had already won. Defeated by default, I stopped and paid my dues with 10 others as I contemplated just how angry I was going to get in the next 15 minutes.

As predicted, the real struggle began as I entered the highway and instinctively accelerated to 70 only to be blasted with the icy chill of reality that the speed limit is 55 and I was breaking the law. Fear of the Fuzz took over as I safely decelerated and entered the slow lane behind a white panel van sporting the license plate “I<3KIDIS.”

Within twenty seconds it was obvious that I was the only one on the highway interested in maintaining the speed limit. The right lane sputtered between 40-50 while the left lane floated along at 65. I continued in this fashion of slowing down to let cars merge and then slightly accelerating for no reason whatsoever just to be forced to slow down again to let cars merge. The obvious answer to this problem was to exit the slow lane and proceed to get shit done.

The difficult decision to call off the speed limit experiment was not based on any one incident, but rather a combination of face palms including:

1) 3 people texting while driving, out of a small sample size of 20 cars
2) Multiple cars traveling at less than 15 below the speed limit
3) Complete lack of awareness by nearly 50% of all drivers (defined only by my impatience)

The fact of the matter is, and always will be, that driving is not a right. Just because you have a piece of paper certifying you can read and write English doesn’t mean that you should automatically be allowed to navigate a 1-ton ship on a concrete sea. For better or worse, within the next 10 years, consumers are going to get a look at automated driving which should help bring some uniformity to our nations highways. My hopes are low for an idiot free commute, but with a little luck and only $5200 (donations happily accepted), I might escape the daily grind in one of these miracle makers I’ve been building in my back yard.
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