Thursday, June 19, 2014

Highway Bumper Cars

I remember that a a kid, I used to enjoy the bumper cars amusement park ride. It was one of my favorites because I could drive a vehicle and hit people. Even then, I remember the ride operator admonishing people not to intentionally crash into each other, although that was one of the intended outcomes of the ride. I remember the electric smell of the ride with the metal floors and the grid above our heard and the long pole connected to the cars which provided the electrical current to people the car in the director desired. It was fun, then.

But that is an amusement park ride.

I have become more and more concerned every day as I ply the highway about competitive drivers engaged in their own version of bumper cars where they almost, but not quite hit the car in front as they force their vehicles into too small spaces and depend upon the drivers around them to make room. I saw a car change lanes yesterday and was convinced it was going to take the fender from the car it was passing with it as it went. 

Too many video games and too little respect for the power of an ensuing collision are, I believe, creating the illusion of invincibility in the minds of overly aggressive drivers. 

A slow moving amusement park bumper car ride is far different that an collision at 70 mph. Impatience is no excuse. I have driven by some horrific accidents lately and it is only because modern vehicles have so many built in safety features that people are walking away with only scratches and bruises. 

I do not believe that more laws or law enforcement is the answer. We have enough. I wonder why, though, I see multiple speed traps on a Sunday morning when traffic is light and not during the times of the day when the overly aggressive drivers are weaving their way through traffic to gain a few yards advantage. It makes no sense to me. Why ticket someone for going too fast on an empty Sunday morning road instead of doing the hard work of making the highways safer?

No, I haven't been stopped, lately--but when the road is devoid of the usual clogging traffic it is easy to coast up to a comfortable road speed which is 15 mph over the unreasonably low speed limit on some of our highways. 

But I never play the real life version of bumper cars. I've been through too many accidents in my life and those are experiences that I do not care to repeat.

Drive smart!

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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