Ryan’s Road Rules RulePosted: June 23, 2012
[If THAT guy is on my side, maybe I would want to meet him in a dark alley. I might need to be saved from a different, meaner guy who also happens to be in that dark alley.]
It’s gradually been brought to my attention that some of the rules and conventions of our driving system kinda blow. Let me secondly say that, overall, I’m very pleased how things work on the road. Ever since I was younger than I am now, I’ve wondered how such an intricate network of roads, signs, and unpredictable people continues to operate with a relatively small number of goof-ups. Sure, people break the laws all the time and get into accidents, but the fact that it’s limited to that is impressive. In other words, you don’t see many “purposes,” like the ones you see in action movie car chases. The point is, the majority of us are trying to stay safe and keep a clean record, so we learn the rules and then creatively break them…like artists and stuff.
With that being said, a few things do very much bug me
about the way we drive and the rules we have to follow. All three of them would require a major shift in the system, so I will try to remain patient. But since none of this even seems to be in the talks, I’m going to start making some noise.
1. Stop giving pedestrians so much right-of-way.
Driving can be hard and requires a large amount of focus. Walking is not hard and requires little to no amount of focus (for most of us). Think about what it takes to stop a car going 30 mph. Now think about what it takes to stop walking. I feel like there shouldn’t be much debate there. Where there will be controversy is why I think we should put the responsibility on the pedestrians. If driving requires us to monitor so many things at once (car function, road signs, other drivers), wouldn’t it make sense to lift at least one burden (pedestrians) off of them if we can? When you’re walking around, you’re already supposed to look both ways before crossing, so why isn’t the law that you should simply have to wait if a car is coming?
You might be thinking to yourself, “Ryan, that’s just really lazy on your part because you don’t like stopping for pedestrians.” Well I’m a pedestrian almost as much as I’m a driver, so stop thinking that. While walking, I gladly stop for cars when they’re driving by because I don’t want to go to the hospital and because it’s really bad on gas for your car to come to a complete stop and start right back up (hopefully you weren’t reading this run-on aloud). And if you can give me a good old-fashioned money-saving reason, I’m pretty much on your side. Now I’ll admit, college has definitely jaded me with this stuff. I’ve had it with people crossing (not even in a crosswalk) right in front of me without even looking if there are cars coming. Still, I think this idea makes sense. We should definitely keep it the same at traffic lights because being a pedestrian is good for the earth and we need to reward them. But don’t give them too much power anywhere else because they’ll take advantage of it and be careless.
2. The “Pass this on” honk
Can you think of a time when you’ve been in the passing lane of a highway and someone five cars in front of you is going JUST the speed limit? You want that person to move into the slow lane, but there’s no way of communicating that. You shouldn’t honk because it’s not the fault of the driver directly in front of you. Or maybe you could if there was a second tone on your horn that said, “Driver, I’m not angry at you. Please don’t take offense to this honk. Instead, take it and pass it on to the yahoo up there who’s costing me my record time.” And if every car were equipped with this feature, the next guy could receive your message and relay it ahead. Then the person directly behind the slow driver could bust out the prolonged, angry honk.
Unfortunately, I see two potential issues with this system. First, people might confuse it with an angry honk and a) take offense or b) get startled and do something dangerous (like swerving or whatever, I don’t know). But, if the horn is a less aggressive and very distinct tone, hopefully people would get used to it and its implication in short time. Second, if the problem driver is very far up, there would be lots of horn honking and noise pollution, perhaps even drowning out the sound of an alerting horn during an actual emergency. Since me wanting you to get out of the passing lane isn’t as urgent as I want it to be, this alternate noise could always be quieter than the original horn and other sirens, so the more important one would take precedence. And this may not even end up being an issue. Let’s just worry about that after it starts causing problems.
3. More jughandles!
“Jughandles are the single greatest piece of civil engineering in the history of roads.”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with jughandles, here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jughandle
Basically, it’s a different way to do a left* turn at a busy intersection. Instead of having an extra lane and a protected green light for left turns, you turn off the highway and so that you can go straight across. At very busy intersections, the left-turn-only lane can be too short and crowded. The jughandle is a much more relaxed and spacious way to do lefts. Additionally, there aren’t as many overlapping traffic light rotations, and the road is actually narrower, making it easier for pedestrians to cross! I’m trying to make it up to them, as you can see. But aside from that, there are other important reasons for this stance. In fact, most of the disadvantages of jughandles stem from people not being familiar with them, so in time, those would disappear. Finally, the most concrete reasoning is…they have them all throughout the state of New Jersey! I grew up with them. I’m used to them. Therefore, everyone should change their ways so life is easier for me. That will be all.
*In Britain, this would be known as a “right” turn.