Driving Tips – Stop Stopping

Warning, this is a bit of a rant.

I live near Kansas City. The Metro area holds about 2 million people (about half a million in KCMO itself). Two major interstates run through the city, I-35 and I-70. After all, we are the center of America, the crossroads of the country. So why is it that drivers in the metro can’t figure out how to merge without stopping four lanes of traffic!

After driving on the east coast near NYC, Hartford, and other much larger metropolitan areas (such as Chicago on the way back), I am simply amazed that millions more people can drive without the same jams. The Chicago area holds three times as many people in a consolidated area as the entire state of Kansas.  They have traffic, but it still moves forward a lot faster than I-35 N at 5:30 on a Tuesday evening. And I-35 N is against the outgoing rush hour of people fleeing downtown KC to head home to their suburban McMasions in south Johnson County.

It’s called the zipper, people. You look ahead, you adjust your speed, and you make room for a car to weave in ahead of you without smashing down on your brakes. If you are merging, take advantage of that hole. Hit the gas. Share the road. We’ll all reach our destinations on time and in one piece if we cooperate on the roadway. We’re all in the same hurry.

I known this is part of the American psyche. Competition, speed, my-way on the highway. We are taught from childhood that we need to be faster and more aggressive than anyone else, even when it isn’t in our best interest to do so. Sometimes you have to assert yourself to get where you need to go, but bottling 6 lanes down to three in  a few miles isn’t the place for it.

I don’t mind letting people in, as long as they are respectful in the process. Use your blinker so I know you’re coming. Don’t try to take off my front bumper when you squeeze in. Don’t try to ram my behind. I’ve usually got kids in the car, and–while I don’t mind if you hurt me so much–if they get hurt because you’re being a jackhole, I will sue you to your last dollar.

Brakes should be used sparingly on the Interstate. It’s a highway meant to speed people through the area. It’s not for sight-seeing or lollygagging. If you follow the rules and give a couple of car lengths at high speeds, you’ll have plenty of time to slow down in the event of an emergency. If you are tailgating at 70 miles per hour, it’s your fault if the person in front of you needs to slow down and you don’t have time to react. Do you remember high school physics? What happens when an object moving at a high rate of speed hits on object standing still. A big bloody mess that didn’t need to happen.traffic

Now, I respect that Kansas Citians are not quite so crazy at high speeds as New Yorkers and Massholes (it’s 80 or get outta my way). We’re a little bit nicer to each other. Just a little. Because, you might actually know the person in front of you from somewhere, since there aren’t as many people around.

So, people, let’s figure out how to drive our cars and do it safely so we can get to our destinations without road rage or accidents. Please, and thank you.

++

Photo obviously not KC, since we don’t have any mountains nearby.

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