I think the Flouride in the water is doing its thing…
Almost every time I go out, I come up on a car – or an SmooVee – that’s doing either just barely or several (often many) MPH below the posted limit. The typical offender also likes to slow down and speed up for no apparent reason; the concept of maintaining a flow is beyond them. They’ll wander across the double yellow – and not just in the curves. Then jerk the wheel to recover their lane.
And of course the limit itself is already ridiculous. Well below what a competent, alert driver can safely handle. So these slo’ mo’s are actually running (if that’s the right word) 10-20 mph below a reasonable cruising along speed.
For example, the main road through my county is US 221. This is a broad, two-lane secondary highway with gentle curves and many long, straight sections that run for as much as a mile or more. It is posted 55 mph. Most of the traffic is doing 60-65. That feels like you’re standing still. Cruising at 70-plus (assuming no cops) is about the same as doing the same speed on an Interstate.
Then you come up on some cowhead in an SmooVee (as often as not, some chrome-covered gigantosaurus with a 300-400 hp V-8) gimping along at 56 mph – slowing for the curves.
I wouldn’t mind these people so much if they’d just pull off and let the faster-moving traffic get by. But using the rearview mirror (and exercising common courtesy) are two things unknown to the pilots of SmooVees and Breedermobiles and high-powered luxury cars bought solely for the status, that never experience the north side of half throttle.
They just keep on going (slowly), indifferent to the line of cars stacking up behind them.
I have to do across-the-double-yellow passes every day. Sometimes two or three times in a row. It’s either that or let an SmooVee under the sway of some Flouride-addled cowhead determine my pace. And that isn’t in my operations manual.
Anyway, it seems to me the problem is getting worse and maybe it’s because there are more geezers on the road (America is graying; the proportion of oldsters is rapidly increasing) and because the up and coming generations have been reared in an environment of subservience, if not outright worship of “the law.”
With my generation (Generation X) it was very different. We grew up contemptuous of “the law” and did our best to circumvent it when it seemed stupid. The 55 mph limit, for example. That was my reality in high school and college. And it was so obviously idiotic that not only did people in my g-g-g-generation ignore it whenever they could, it imparted a reflexive cynicism and suspicion of “the law” in general. From 55 to the Dope Laws and on and on.
So, we developed our own compasses. We evaluated a situation on its merits and decided accordingly. Who the hell cares what the number on a sign by the side of the road says?
But today’s crowd was reared in an environment of less-than-individualism. They are much less likely to know there’s a two-part question: Ok, it’s illegal. But does that mean it’s wrong?
Plus, they grew up in a video game word, with cars that are deceptively easy to “drive.” Many have never experienced a car with drum brakes and no ABS. If you had 100 of them do a road test in a 1970 F-100 pick-up with a three-on-the-tree manual and no power steering (or brakes) 90 of them would be in the ditch, wheels-up, within five minutes.
But mainly, it’s the suffocating steam of “safety” – the endless background drone that says to ever drive even a single MPH faster than that number on that sign … Well, you might as well get an AK and go shoot up a kindergarten.
People have absorbed this. They live it. How else to explain the situation? Almost everyone is driving around in a car that is fully capable of safely (assuming a competent driver) running much, much faster than the speed limits on American roads. And not just running faster. They stop well, too. Most modern cars take half the distance to come to a complete stop relative to a car from the 1960s – when speed limits were higher than they are today, by the way.
And they have ABS and traction control and a whole array of technologies that keep them on the road even when the driver can’t. All for what, exactly? So the “driver” can plod along at speeds that would have seemed hypercautious back in 1966?
At least back in ’66, the bluehair (or whomever) up ahead would have pulled off onto the shoulder to let you by.