[OT] Hit and Run

Hans Fugal hans at fugal.net
Sat Aug 25 08:23:12 MDT 2007

People don't always blame their locality. I grew up in Santa Fe, and the
"bad drivers" were the Texans visiting the ski area (Texas for all its
bigness has no mountains, you may recall). 

In Connecticut/Rhode Island people recognized that drivers were
inconsiderate, selfish, aggressive, and downright crazy, but it was more
of a "look how crazy we are" joke than self-despisement. I think the
average person was more attentive and alert there.

In California, and probably places like Washington DC, the obstacles
(lots of traffic) breed certain driving tendencies. People adapt. To
people used to light traffic (yes, most of Utah still counts as light
traffic in the grand scheme) it might be bad driving (your cab
experience), but to them it's a way of life. In Providence there's an
on/off ramp combination similar to the one between 800 north and 1600
north in Orem on I-15 northbound, but with 10 times as many cars trying
to merge in and get off, and they do it at full speed. You literally
have to have the passenger roll down his window and get eye contact and
point to where you want to merge (although your blinker is already on). 

Utah driving is its own special flavor as is the local driving anywhere.
IMHO Utah driving is one of the less excuseable forms. In Utah you don't
have to be aggressive. You don't have to weave through six lanes of
traffic. You usually don't have to deal with crazy curving roads and
one-way mazes through the city. You don't have to drive for an hour to
go 10 blocks. All you have to do is pay attention to the road and be the
slightest bit patient. I never cease to be amazed at the apparent
inability of so many Utahns to pay attention and be slightly patient.

On Wed, 22 Aug 2007 at 10:52 -0600, Jeremy Hansen wrote:
> >  Of course,
> > driving and texting (DWT) at the same time, that would be dangerous
> I don't know if you were joking about this or not, but I have witnessed this
> exact transgression 3 times in the last 2 months. The first time I saw it I
> couldn't believe it was actually happening. The worst case was a
> teen-to-early-20s girl turning left onto the NB I-15 on-ramp at the 106th
> South intersection at about 4:30 PM. Not exactly an area of light traffic.
> Thankfully, for me anyway, I was headed south. But I just kept imagining her
> on the freeway, constantly glancing down at her phone which she held with
> both hands on the center of the steering wheel (apparently turning that with
> her elbows), and typing away furiously with her thumbs. It was like playing
> peek-a-boo with oncoming traffic. In fact, I was so mesmerized by her
> stupidity that I'm sure I was almost as distracted as she was.
> On another note, I have a bit of an axe to grind with the "Utah drivers"
> stigma that has already been mentioned. To be blunt, I think it's total
> bull.
> I have driven in many different parts of the country, as doubtless many of
> you have and, in my experience, there is no shortage of seemingly
> incompetent drivers anywhere. I say seemingly because I believe it's really
> just my (read our) overinflated perspective of a negative situational
> experience that labels other drivers in this way. Driving here is no worse,
> from a statistical standpoint, than anywhere else. Utah ranks close to the
> middle in most driving related statistics, and lowest by almost half of most
> states in % of alcohol related deaths in auto accidents. The bottom line is,
> we all have driving idiosyncrasies. Ask anyone from Florida where the worst
> drivers are and guess what they'll say? What about Washington or Rhode
> Island?
> I propose that the reason most people complain about Utah drivers (or the
> drivers from whatever state they happen to be in at the time) is that they
> encounter other drivers who don't drive the way they do. They have different
> tendencies. This is only magnified in an environment with drivers in
> unfamiliar or crowded conditions, both of which are increasing in Utah
> almost daily. Think about Washington D.C. where abrupt lane changes are seen
> as simply a necessity, as evidenced by the numerous times I was almost
> forced from the roadway by taxis. I hadn't realized that was part of the
> local custom. Silly me.
> How often have you heard about a driver who was too slow, or wouldn't get
> out of the fast lane, or wouldn't let them into the other lane, or in some
> other way impeded the first driver's progress and therefore forever damaged
> them by way of inconvenience? Of course these people are frustrating, but I
> guarantee you have had the same effect on some other person at some time in
> your driving life. I am as guilty as anyone else who has spent an angry hour
> in the car because someone 50 miles back had cut me off. I am also sure that
> I have made a mistake of my own while driving from time to time.
> Driving is a cooperative effort by everyone to make it to their destination
> without running into each other. Unfortunately, aggressiveness, impatience,
> and self-centered intentions are clogging up the gears. Whether it's you
> driving too fast, or the other guy driving too slow, it doesn't really
> matter. We all just need to chill out a bit. At least that's what my wife
> tells me when that vein starts bulging out of my forehead every time I get
> on the freeway.
> I'm sure many of you disagree with me, and that's fine. I expect it. I'm not
> defending bad driving. My point is that there are bad drivers everywhere,
> and you know what? The lights aren't always greener on the other side of the
> state line. I'm not trying to rip on all other drivers but myself either.
> Quite the opposite. I'm trying to bring to light a reality that might
> prevent you from giving someone the finger on the freeway only to find out
> as you pass that it was your neighbor. Besides, did you ever check the
> license plate of that idiot? He's probably from California. They can't drive
> their way out of a paper bag.
> Kenneth - I hope your situation is resolved to your satisfaction. There
> certainly is no excuse for that kind of irresponsibility.
> Jeremy
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Hans Fugal ; http://hans.fugal.net
There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the 
right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
    -- Johann Sebastian Bach

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