Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On the Road ... Honestly

     I was driving into Brooklyn over the weekend to help my daughter move out of her apartment. She's leaving New York City and going to Buffalo. (Don't ask; that's another post.)

    On the way in, driving down the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway, I was in a line of traffic in the middle lane, doing 60 mph. A car zipped by me on the left. It was white; an older model. I think it was a Lexus, but I'm not sure. Proudly displayed on the back windshield was one of those college signs. It said:  Virginia Law.

     I don't actually know what the speed limit is on the BQE. Probably 55 mph; it could be less. So this white car with Virginia Law on the back was definitely speeding. The driver was male; kind of young, but I didn't get a good look.

     After he went by me, he pulled up behind a car ahead of us in the left-hand lane. He had to brake to slow down. Then he proceeded to tailgate that car for the next mile or two. You could see his brake lights winking on and off -- he was so close to the car ahead of him, he had to tap the brakes again and again so as not to hit the rear end.

     Finally, the guy in the white Lexus veered into the middle lane, without using his blinker, and passed the person he was tailgating. He sped up, closed the gap with the next car, then moved into the right lane to pass, until he was blocked by another car. The last I saw of the guy he was tailgating the car in the right lane, brake lights pulsating on and off.

     Now I could be wrong, but I figure the driver is probably a law student, driving his parents' old car. Or maybe he's a recent law school grad, a newly minted lawyer. And I could only wonder:  Is this what they teach you at Virginia Law, or at any law school? To flout the law, intimidate fellow drivers, endanger others as well as yourself?

     Later, on the way home, my car stuffed full of my daughter's boxes and suitcases, I was traveling northbound on the Taconic Parkway, where I know the speed limit is 55 mph, but where everyone does 60 - 65. I again was in the middle lane, doing 60 or a little more. Yes, I know I'm admitting here that I was speeding. But at 5 - 8 mph over the speed limit, I am almost always the slowest person on the highway.

     For some reason, we all tolerate speeding. Aside from a few Speed Kills signs, and a speed trap here and there, the authorities seem to pretty much ignore traffic infractions on our highways. And people in general must perceive that the risk of speeding is extremely minor, or nonexistent, because they ignore posted speed limits.

     Anyway, going home, I'm in the middle lane of the Taconic. An older model SUV speeds by me in the left-hand lane, doing at least 70 and probably 75 mph. It was a woman driver, alone in the car. I noticed several bumper stickers on her back fender. One of them said something about saving animals, and the most prominent proclaimed:  War Is Not the Answer.

     It's nice sentiment, I thought, one we could all agree on. But again, I couldn't help but note the irony ... or perhaps the hypocrisy? I wondered how the woman squares her philosophy with her behavior. There she is, doing 70+ in her SUV, getting about 15 mpg, with American troops stationed all over the Muslim world. Those troops are there for a number of reasons, to be sure, but one of the main reasons is to protect and secure our oil supplies -- which she was blithely using up at a pretty good rate.

     Now I know one gas guzzler doesn't make much difference. But I thought her bumper sticker should more honestly read:  War Is Not the Answer: The Arabs Should Give Up Their Oil Without a Fight.

7 comments: said...

Thank goodness we have fracking. Natural gas will save us if the anti-fracking nuts don't destroy us first. Until Americans reduce their waste of gas, we will need supplies from somewhere. Might as well be home.

As for war, who doesn't detest it, however, sometimes you gotta do it. I don't think most of us believe (I hope not) that oil is teh cause of war. That's TOO simplistic.


Janette said...

Oil IS the reason we are in this war.

After living in Saudi Arabia, I have no doubt in my mind.

Barb said...

Ah well.....ah.... I would probably be the woman in the Suv, but mine gets about twenty three miles on the highway. I generally go up to ten miles over the speed limit.

Just curious, was the car that was in the way of this lexus also passing, or should he or she have done the right thing and moved over out of the "passing lane?" There truly is nothing more irritating than someone who decides that because he or she is going the speed limit they get to stayin the left lane...even when the guidance is to stay on the middle or right unless passing.

DJan said...

Sigh. Driving is enough to drive anyone crazy, isn't it? I stay no more than 5mph over the limit, and I am always the slowest car. Why is this happening, Tom?

Tom Sightings said...

Well, Dianne and Janette, I still say that oil isn't the only reason we've got soldiers fighting in Muslim countries (remember 9/11, as well as other issues), but it is one of the main reasons.

And Barb, I agree that no one should hog the left-hand lane if they're doing the speed limit. In this case, the left-hand lane was going marginally faster than the middle lane, because of fairly heavy traffic. What this Virginia Law guy was doing was out-and-out aggressive and dangerous -- and the point is, obviously illegal.

The SUV wasn't doing 10 mph over the speed limit, she was doing 15 - 20 mph over the speed limit. No one should do that; it's dangerous to them and fellow drivers, whether they'll admit it or not. But also the point here is that someone espousing so-called liberal beliefs like save the animals, save the environment and war is not the answer, shouldn't be aggressively wasting a resource that requires us to keep military forces in hostile countries, and shouldn't be needlessly burning up a fossil fuel that hurts the environment.

It's easy to say you're in favor of environmentalism; but much harder to live it.

Phew, boy do I feel like I'm on a high horse!

Douglas said...

I got a speeding ticket in Virginia while I was living there (it was a speed trap and I actually wasn't speeding... story for another time). I was repeatedly told by the cop who gave me the ticket and a friendly clerk at the court that I could have my speedometer checked and, if it was off, that could be used in my defense. I told the clerk that my speedometer was accurate but that, if anything, I was going slower than it reported since I would be on the highway doing the speed limit (according to that speedometer) and constantly being passed by others.

Good post, Tom.

Anonymous said...

All the drivers are jerks except thee and me!
Cop Car
P.S. I generally drive no more than 55 mph (I say that having just returned from a family emergency trip to Colorado during which I stayed at the speed limit - usually 75). However, I try to be respectful of other drivers and will (in the slow lane) speed up if it seems that I'm causing a bottleneck. In LA freeway driving, I don't even look at the speedometer but go with the flow.
Cop Car