One For The Road

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Like many of you, this past Labor Day weekend I was on the road traveling. Some was for work, some for pleasure but many other drivers made both reasons for traveling less pleasurable.

Now granted, interstates from here to Halifax are being repaired and all of that road construction causes delays and frayed nerves.

Turn signals are a little used operational indicator unlike brake lights.

The smaller the vehicle the less they are used. Semi-tractor trailers seemingly always indicate their intentions with a left and right signal light in changing lanes. But not some out-of-state tourists bent on a Labor Day vacation.

It was my weekend experience that motorists from Michigan, Ohio and Illinois traveling the same direction I was think both and sometimes all three lanes are for driving. Despite the signs admonishing ‘Keep Right Except To Pass’, travelers fearing they would lose their place in line or would remain a few more moments on the road would camp in the left lane.

For that reason, when the interstate was 3 lanes I would pass on the left and right (using my turn signals, of course). After passing on the right it would seem that the passee was reminded of their transgression and quickly move over to the right side driving lane (except for Ohio drivers).

On some of the roads I traveled there were some long pull incline grades. To get up the hill you had to build up a head of steam going down to let inertia and petroleum allow you to make up to the next crest while keeping up with the flow of traffic.

But some drivers while going up hill would realize they were going 5 miles over the speed limit and would brake…going up hill! When all they needed to do was lift their foot from the accelerator, friction and the laws of physics would have done the rest.

And if there was a line of traffic (and where on the interstate on the final 3-day weekend of the summer wasn’t there a line?) a nervous braker at the front of the pack could cause extreme slow down and eventual stoppage for no reason.

I remember reading that for a single tap of a brake light results in a decrease in 1 mph for those behind. A traffic line of 55 cars each tapping one time on their brakes because the driver in front did means some serious slow down congestion from 70 to 15 mph for still no reason.

Then when an interstate reduces from three lanes to two we are warned as far as 4 miles ahead of the lane reduction. And again at 3 miles, and at 2 miles and at 1 mile. But there is always the nimrod who at the 1/2 mile ahead lane reduction sign that will accelerate to try to pass as many as possible and forcibly squeeze over rather than being a courteous driver. He/She doesn’t realize that six other have preceded him/her and that when they run out of road the result is traffic snarls for everyone.

I long for the day when I had muscle cars with big V-8’s that could leave inept drivers as little specks in the rear view mirror. But my pocketbook now says a 4-cylinder mini-SUV is more to its liking.

But after this nerve frazzling weekend I am thinking of making a bumper sticker: I learned to drive from Tony Stewart…so maybe you better back off.