Monday January 22, 2007

Do I believe the Florida Legislature needs to pass a law that increases moving-violation fines and points for slowpokes who lollygag in the far left passing lanes? You bet your ass I do. But more importantly, I think police forces across the state need to re-prioritize which offenses actually get enforced: start pulling over people who don’t use their turn-signals for a change. And by the way, no, you’re not allowed to change lanes without signaling.

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  1. Tere    Mon Jan 22, 09:23 AM #  

    Agreed. It’s not changing lanes if you don’t signal – it’s cutting people off. So hate that.

  2. alesh    Mon Jan 22, 03:35 PM #  

    This morning NBC news reported on a new study that shows that women have fewer car accidents then men. Fine. What gets me is that they kept saying that this proves that women are “better drivers” then men.

    Excuse me?! I, too, can crawl down I-95 in the right lane at 50 mph. I might be safer, but that’s not the same thing as being a good driver!!

  3. Tere    Mon Jan 22, 04:50 PM #  

    In So Fla at least, both men and women are equally awful drivers.

    Actually, as far as courtesy goes, women tend to be a lot ruder and nastier. 8 times out of 10, when someone does some shitty maneuver that affects me, and I react with my typical “WTF?” hands up in the air gesture, if it’s a woman, she’ll undoubtedly give me the bird and start yelling at me.

    I hate admitting that. But it’s true.

  4. Alex    Mon Jan 22, 05:26 PM #  

    I think women are more distracted drivers. I’m not talking about the old putting-on-makeup stereotype, but most women I know can’t focus on more than one driving-related thing at once, and for some reason they don’t have confidence in their peripheral vision. Which is why I know very few who can drive a stick.

    On the other hand, most men think they are waaaaaaay, but waaaaaay better drivers than they really are. Consequently, they drive like complete asses and make dangerous mistakes. Multiply this attitude by 10 if they drive a BMW 3 series or a Mustang GT.

  5. NicFitKid    Mon Jan 22, 08:36 PM #  

    The trouble with the proposed law is that it ignores the current reality on Florida’s, and particularly South Florida’s, roads. On the highways, where the concept of a passing lane has the most relevance, FHP doesn’t have the officers to enforce the existing laws, let alone new ones. Lane discipline is a beautiful thing, as anyone who has driven on the German Autobahn can tell you. The big rigs always stay to the right, nobody weaves in and out, and the left is free for high-horsepower set to barrel along at 200kmh in safety. But lane discipline starts with a disciplined driving culture, and we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.

    Think about how easy it is to get a license. A written test, a simple driving exam, and you’re done. No months long required courses, no mandatory schools, no annual vehicle inspection to keep junkers with bad brakes and non-functioning lights and signals off the road. A driver here never really has to learn how to drive. It’s more like on the job training, with accidents as the failing grade.

    So why not tighten up licensing requirements?

    Well, that would probably cripple the local workforce and the economy. There’s no other way to get around efficiently. If every license required a six-month driving course, paid by the citizen, capped by a real exam, I’d guess forty to sixty percent of the current drivers wouldn’t qualify. With our significant level of sprawl and anemic level of public transit, there’s not a lot of alternatives for local commuters. How close to work do most residents live? Are local employers and government making any effort to locate workforce housing near office complexes and other job sites?

    We are creatures of our environment, and if the environment we live in is poorly planned, chaotic, and selfishly opportunistic (think of all the developers plopping new housing tracts further south and west than current infrastructure can handle), is it any wonder that local drivers reflect those same characteristics?

  6. alesh    Tue Jan 23, 08:35 AM #  

    Alex~ I’m the guy in the 3-series flashing his high-beams at the individual in the SUV in the left lane, going 60mph, talking on a cell phone. Guilty as charged. It’s a good thing mine is a 4-cylinder, because I tend to push my cars, and at least this one has an upper limit.

    NFK~ Oh. We shouldn’t bother passing any laws because we don’t have the resources to enforce them? I just don’t go for that. FHP maybe needs more resources, but maybe they just need to re-evaluate what they choose to enforce. The only thing I’ve ever actually seen them pull people over for is hopping into the left lane to pass someone between 4 and 6 pm. I’d support more unmarked cars, plus an emphasis on pulling people over for violations that compromise the flow of traffic and safety. We almost repealed the HOV lane and THAT’s the thing they choose to enforce!?

  7. Alex    Tue Jan 23, 09:40 AM #  

    Long as you are not weaving in and out clipping bumpers, oversteering into corners and braking too often, you are OK with me. I can see you in the rearview.

  8. NicFitKid    Tue Jan 23, 10:27 AM #  

    Alesh, don’t get me wrong, I agree with a passing lane law, I just don’t think it will make a dime’s worth of difference on the roads. FHP is chronically understrength and only capable of enforcing two things: jack and shit. Troop E/District 1 covers the AM shift for Miami-Dade county with “63 Troopers, 7 Sergeants, 3 Lieutenants, 1 Captain, and a Senior Clerk.” Do you really think a force that small can make a dent in the local driving culture? Seventy troopers and sergeants on the road versus the hundreds of thousands of county expressway motorists hellbent on driving like crazy people? And you know the regular police agencies won’t enforce this law, they’ll just use it as an excuse to pull over someone they’re tailing for other reasons.

    Like I said before, stricter licensing requirements and mandatory driving schools would change the culture, but that’s unlikely in the extreme. First off, the state would have to implement those changes. Second, they’d run counter to the American view of driving as a birthright. Third, without effective public transit, there’s not much of an alternative for all the bad drivers knocked off the roads.

    We’re pretty much fucked for the time being. Hell, the average driver seems to enjoy SUV’s, some of the worst handling abominations ever invented by Detroit, why would they give a rat’s ass about something like lane discipline?

  9. alesh    Tue Jan 23, 09:36 PM #  

    It may not make a big difference on the road, but it’ll make me feel even more self-righteous swerving around assholes going slower then me in the left lane knowing they’re breaking the law, and not just the rules of the road. I might start flipping them off.

    Do I think a force that small can make a dent in the driving culture? Yes. They choose to enforce the carpool lane rules, and lo and behold those rules get respected. Meanwhile I have Toyota Sequia drivers cutting me off as though they didn’t even bother glancing in their rearview mirrors, and of course they can’t SIGNAL the turn because one hand’s on the wheel and one hand’s on the celly. If the state troopers chose to enforce that law, you bet things would be different.