Thursday, February 8, 2007

Driving Me Crazy

What the hell is wrong with people when they drive? As my son put it last summer, Las Vegas is like one big traffic accident surrounded by casinos - or was it one big casino surrounded by traffic accidents? It's actually impossible here to get in your car and go anywhere without seeing at least one fender bender. Weather is almost never a factor, but people seem to have failed to absorb the simple geometry of driving a car. They are literally all over the road. It's not unusual to watch someone make a right on red...all the way across 4 lanes of traffic into the left lane. There seems to be a general unawareness of the meaning of certain standard driving cues, such as lane markings and red lights, and an equal ignorance of the existence of certain standard automotive features, such as turn signals. (Some people evidently consider headlights optional, too, but that's less of a problem in a place with so much neon.) On my way home from the Strip today, I encountered: two accidents; a Hummer (don't get me started) driving 50 mph in the left lane on a highway where the speed limit is 65 and the average speed is 75; two trucks in some sort of "mine is bigger" drag race; the usual complement of people leaving 2-3 car lengths between them and the car in front of them when they stop at red lights; and an infuriated woman in a red Mustang who honked at me (and, when I checked my rearview mirror, was banging her hands on her steering wheel in a frenzy of frustration) when I stopped at a red light. No, I didn't fail to go through the yellow (I know the drill with yellows); the light was already red when I got to the intersection. Short of ignoring it and taking my chances (not only illegal, but a very stupid move when the cross street has 4-6 lanes of traffic streaming by at 35-45 mph), stopping was truly my only option. I kind of wanted to get out and explain things to her, but decided it was ok if she thought I was an idiot. Even assuming I could have explained anything to someone in a frenzy of frustration over having to stop at a definitively red light, really, it's hard to get too worked up over the opinion such a person might have of my driving abilities.

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