Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Traffic Suck? It's Your Fault!

Live Science's Mystery Monday column gives a cursory explanation of why your greedy attitude and sloth-like reflexes are the root cause of traffic jams. The same site also has an article that cites research which demonstrates that high speed limits don't hike the death toll.

If cruising highways is too "blasé" for you, then turn to PopSci. They can show you how to play pedestrian pinball with your Jaguar (arguably, this technology would take the fun out of Carmageddon), or can get you in a Star Trek mood with their Warp Drive overview.

Hmmm, I seem to have combined a Star Trek reference, a reference to a virtual automotive anger outlet, and talk about traffic into the same post. Somewhere deep in the subconscious, this must mean that I'm still baffled by my two pet-peeves of long-distance driving, which I have named Klingons and
  • In this context, a Klingon is defined as a driver who has absolutely no idea how fast they want to go. As they approach from behind at great speed, Klingons will latch onto the rear bumper of any vehicle and remain there until either A.) another vehicle passes at a higher velocity (and is latched onto) or B.) the driver of the latched-onto vehicle confuses the Klingon into acquiring a new target. Anecdotally, it would appear that Klingons are genetically predisposed to automotive myopia; they are uncapable of focusing on any object more distant than the nearest bumper. Further research may be required, but I would advocate mandatory installation of "corrective" windshields which (when activated at highway speeds) make objects appear much closer than they are.
  • An L.L.P. is a left-lane parker. These pathetic creatures feel entitled to cruise at whatever darn speed they desire -- in the left lane. If they were consistently among the fastest travellers on the road, that would be one thing. L.L.P.'s have been routinely observed to ignore signs that clearly state "left lane for passing only," and generally move slower than the previaling flow of traffic, while simultaneously tending to position their vehicle in the most disruptive of possible physical locations with respect to the flow of surrounding traffic. Often, the L.L.P. is suffering from an acute and chronic case of rectal-cranial proximity dysfunction (RCPD). One notable sign of RCPD is constantly variable velocity that can appear chaotic and non-linear from a reference frame outside of their vehicle. (This, and other symptoms -- you'll know them when you see them -- are greatly exacerbated by the presence of a cell phone). The cure for L.L.P.'s is more complicated. First, they should have a protective Faraday cage installed in their vehicle (eliminating the utility of the cell phone). If this is not an adequate cure, then some more radical intervention may be required...