Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Things I saw today while driving to work.

Traffic is bad anywhere you live but in Austin, it is notoriously bad. There could be many reasons why traffic is bad but I think it comes down to poor planning coupled with tremendous population growth. It used to be the rule that anytime someone gave directions that you always started with "get on MOPAC" (Loop 1), but even that has become the State's second biggest parking lot.

I usually pay attention to the road when I drive but I had extra time today to do some people watching while inhaling my daily limit of CO2. I noticed a few things that really bugged me about the commuters here in Austin:

* Women putting makeup on in the car.
- This is my single most biggest driving pet peeve. How selfish does someone have to be to endanger other people just so they can look better. I witnessed three women putting on makeup this A.M. and I only commute ten miles.

* Smoking and driving.
- As an ex-smoker I understand that driving and smoking go together but throwing your nasty cigarette butt on the highway is against the law. Why not put an empty can with liquid at the bottom in your car and then dispose of it later?

* People eating.
- This is preventable because you can eat at work or at home. If you cannot eat at work then eat in the parking lot when you get there. If you are going to be late by doing this then leave earlier.

* Aggressive Drivers .
- Men tend to be the most aggressive drivers because of testosterone but some women can be notorious culprits but in a passive way. I saw a man in a Mustang GT drifting in to my lane with about a third of a car length between my car and the car in front of me. He decided that he could just get in front of me with no blinker and I would know his intentions. Then when I didn't let him in he gets mad at me? WTF.

* Cell phone talkers.
- I am very guilty of this BUT I know when it is appropriate to talk and when it is not. Having a 30 minute conversation in traffic is not the appropriate time. A caveat to that is if a person is using a hands free device or sorts. This also causes a distraction but it is much less.

* Single occupant commuters.
- I am guilty of this everyday and we can make all of the excuses in the world but if 25% of the population in the Austin area carpooled then a traffic problem wouldn't exist but unlike other large metropolitan areas Austin does not offer HOV (high occupancy vehicles) lanes or a viable rapid transit option.

I think people are inherently good natured and that the people listed above were not behaving this way to intentionally anger anyone but if commuters could start paying a little more attention to their surroundings and a little less on themselves then we may all experience a safer and faster commute.

What is your biggest commute pet peeve?


CM said...

Great post don't forget all of the fat chicks out there. They are pretty aggressive drivers too!

Anonymous said...

People on cell phones and teenage drivers are a major issue on the roads. I agree with having a hands-free device and I even understand that the time in the car can be used to have a conversation, but doing it one handed or not concentrating on how you turn or where you drive is just plain stupid and selfish. Some of the teens (granted not everyone is guilty) have their legs on the dasboard or their seats put back so low they can barely see over the steering wheel. In Austin, traffic is bad - no doubt about that, showing a bit of consideration can help everyone get to where they need to be in the shortest amount of time possible with the least amount of frustration.

Anonymous said...

Hey Denney,
I liked the blog & it made me face up to my own bad driving habits... one you didn't mention that I do too often & really is dangerous: texting. It's probably about 10 times worse than talking on the phone. So all you texters out there... I feel ya, but let's knock it off while we're behind the wheel.

Joe said...

Texting behind the wheel? Seriously, did I read that correctly? Even talking on a phone is bad enough, but texting? I despair. Really, I do.

We all know how stupid, irresponsible, selfish and disgusting it is to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, right? Because it lowers reaction time, so that a perceived threat becomes a tragic (often fatal) accident before the driver can respond to it. What if you don't even perceive the threat to begin with, because of your own selfish and stupid actions? The fastest reaction time in the world won't help if you never see it coming.

Texting while driving. It never occurred to me this was a problem. It never occurred to me that the people I entrust my safety to by sharing a public road with would be so stupid. You make me sick.