Friday, August 29, 2008
Reasonable Road Rules
All week while traversing the roads of Ocala during the morning and afternoon school rush hours, I've noticed an annoying trend among drivers: speeding and tailgating. Speeding is an easy offense to commit, but lately with gas prices I find myself really watching the speedometer and the average miles per gallon computation. As for tailgating, I have personally never felt any vast measure of satisfaction in driving so closely to the bumper in front of my own that a wreck is inevitable simply to convey the message of "Your too slow!". No, where another might tailgate, I just wait - wait for an opportunity to pass, and when that opportunity does arise the pass is completed without any rude gestures or profanities. Seemingly, I'm in the minority here.
A couple days ago while driving the speed limit, it seemed that I royally offended another driver. I came to this conclusion as I heard an engine rev and vehicle fly past with driver hanging out the window screaming some sort of profanity and sticking their tongue out followed by the primary hand gesture of choice on the road. Obviously, the speed limit signs were wrong and we should all be going ten or more miles over the speed limit.
Yesterday, after dropping my son off at school, I took the opportunity to explore this new area in search of a playground. Though I was going at least five to ten over the speed limit, I was fraught with tailgaters. Finally, I turned off onto a promising road in my quest for a park; there I slowed down to a more sensible speed, and observing a school, proceeded to slow down even more. Unfortunately, the pressure to not offend the drivers behind me persisted and I found myself pulled over for going six miles over the speed limit in a school zone. Fortunately, the officer only gave a warning, but little did he know how far that warning would go. If other drivers didn't like my *slow* driving before, now I was really going to be cautious of speed limit signs - particularly in school zones.
Which brings me to today. Today I had the privilege of putting into practice my newfound respect for speed limits. While traveling a rather lengthy two lane road, I followed the law - not wanting to get a ticket and uncertain of where the favorite police sitting spots are. Unfortunately, the driver behind me (who happened to be male) was sorely disapproving of my decision to obey the rules of the road. He commenced tailgating for an extensive period, and eventually passed me. No big deal, but I did wonder why he bothered - there was a large group of cars not far in front of me, so clearly he wasn't going anywhere even though he passed me. I continued going the assigned speed and observed this neurotic driver tailgating the cloister of cars now in front of him. Eventually the road widened to four lanes. Slowing down while going through a school zone, and not long thereafter I found myself at a stoplight. Much to my delight, guess who was right beside me? Yes, the same vehicle: an old white Chevy with a 30ish year old good ol' boy type. I turned politely towards him and made sure I had full eye contact before smiling smugly. . No, no commentary or gestures were needed. He surely felt like an ass and looked like one too. This fellow's driving is far too common - particularly among males. Really, it demonstrates their innate handicap in being testosterone driven (literally). It just goes to show that using a little brain power coupled with some impulse control will take you a lot farther than all the show of power and ego in the world. I plan to continue teaching the greater Ocala region the satisfaction that comes with following the rules of the road - one driver at a time.