Creeping down 490 in traffic I can only describe as lugubrious, I feel an unavoidable frustration building. I’m in the passing lane, and beyond the bloated, dragging SUV in front of me, I can see miles of clear pavement beckoning. Why won’t this jerk get out of the way?
Just as the human body lives and dies by the systems which pump fluids from one organ to another, a city thrives due to the continuous pumping of people along it’s roads. In the interest of making that network of winding asphalt entrails more efficient, I’d like to remind the Typical Rochester Driver (or TRD, try sounding it out phonetically) of some of the rules and “ethics” of the road. I realize that to many I am preaching to the choir, but perhaps there is a TRD out there who will read this, learn something, and make driving more pleasurable for us all:
1. The left lane is for PASSING. That is really all it’s supposed to be used for. It’s not a VIP lane for people with cool cars or personalities. It’s not there to give you extra breathing room. It’s for passing. It’s there in case someone wants to go faster than you. Also, please don’t hover there to block people who you think are driving too fast. That, contrary to popular opinion, does not score you any points anywhere.
2. Do not ever brake for a green light. If you just can’t stop yourself from doing this, you may not have the nerve necessary to drive a motor vehicle. Yes, every green light is potentially a red light, but the smart people who built them were nice enough to throw in the yellow light to give you ample time to think. Be positive. Allow yourself to think, “I’m going to make it!” at least as long as you see green. Also if you want my opinion, braking for every green light does not get you into heaven any faster.
3. If you stop to rubberneck at an accident, you are a rubbernecker. When you see flashing lights and smoke, do your eyes hungrily probe the wreckage for a pool of blood or twitching, dismembered limb? That doesn’t sound like something a mentally well person would do. The line of fifty-or-so TRDs slowly rolling by an accident are NOT looking to see if anyone needs help, so stop with that excuse -and if you think it’s only fair to look because you had to wait while everyone else did, go ahead and start reading this rule again from the top.
4. I’m sure you’re a very special person, but the green light doesn’t care. When you’re car #1 stopped under a red light (what I like to refer to as the “pole position”) and you see that baby turn green, it isn’t a sign from the powers that be that you are a super cool dude. It’s not some metaphor for doors of opportunity opening up in your life. It’s the signal that you need to apply pressure to the gas pedal right now and get up to speed. Next time you’re a block or so back from the light, observe this phenomenon: the space between cars going through the light gets shorter and shorter with each car, until by the time the light is yellow people are going through bumper to bumper. Think of how maybe you could have made it if the TRDs up front just punched it instead of yawning like baby ducks waking up from a nap first. Remember: It’s not your green light, it’s everybody’s.
5. Driving deserves your full attention. Live by this code and there is little else to say regarding safety -and I’m not just talking about distracting handheld devices. I’m not sure why, but some people seem to think it’s OK to fall into a trance when driving. Maybe they find driving boring, maybe they hate it, or maybe the thought of it scares them so much that they need to go to their happy place. None of these are good reasons to tune out. Why? Driving is fun! It is the ultimate expression of American freedom and opulence. Feel the road beneath your wheels!
The last and least popular of Rochester’s three annual seasons lurks somewhere in the next two months, and with it waits more challenging (or fun, depending on your outlook) driving conditions for all. More awareness on the roads makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone, especially for us PEARLS (PEople Always Running Late to Stuff). Thank you.
Article/photo by Ben Slomovic