Please Pull Over So I Can Explain

Okay, so I was driving home last night and I pulled onto the interstate a few exits north of my house.  I got on in a small section in which the speed limit is 55 mph, though almost all of the interstate highways in Vermont have 65 mph limits.  Wanting to go fast, but also not wanting to get a ticket, I assumed a speed of around 63 mph and went over to the left lane to pass all of those 55 mph slowpokes.

As I was doing this a big truck came roaring up behind me, apparently wanting to drive faster than 63 mph, but by this time there were several cars to my right and no good place for me to merge over, so I drove for about 4 miles with this guy up my tailpipe.  When I got the chance, I did move right, and he passed me.  However, about half a mile later the speed limit returned to its usual setting of 65 mph, so I increased my speed to about 72.  I got back into the left lane where I immediately encountered Mr. Truck, who I guess wanted to drive 68 at all times regardless of the speed limit.

I felt a little bad pulling up behind this guy who had been trying to pass me for miles and had only recently gotten ahead, but on the other hand I was a little annoyed that he wanted to exceed the speed limit by 15 a few minutes ago, but now that I wanted to go faster, he wanted to exceed the speed limit by 3.  I kept a safe distance, but he seemed to be annoyed by me, and when he finally did go over to the right lane, I passed him, and he came roaring up behind me again, now back up my tailpipe with his brights on.

Okay, I get it.  You think I am being a jerk, driving slow, then as soon as you pass me I speed up and pass you back.  But it’s not true!  I was just trying to adjust my speed based on the posted limit!  If only I could somehow communicate this fact to you!  Could you just pull over real quick and I will explain to you that I bear you no ill will and am only trying to drive somewhat normally?

The problem is, I have no way to get a message to Mr. Truck.  When we drive, we are in an isolated little bubble with no method of communication with the vehicles around us.  What a terrible state of affairs!  Yes, we all have cell phones, and judging from what I’ve seen, most of us spend all of our driving time talking on them, but not to the people around us.  How much nicer it would be if cars were like starships.

What we need is a way to hail passing cars and trucks, Star Trek style.  We could open a hailing frequency and discuss stuff with the other motorists.  Everyone’s car phone number could be their license plate number!  Sure, you might get a bunch of people calling you to say that you are a sucky driver, but just like in Star Trek, you could always ignore those calls.  If we’re all going to call people while we’re driving anyway, it might be more helpful to be calling the guy in front of you, asking if he plans to drive 20 mph under the speed limit the whole way, or to mention that his blinker has been on for the past 3 exits.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  You are thinking that every car would need a communications officer, but I’m sure with bluetooth and telepathy that something could be worked out.  And I know that you are also thinking that all of the calls will be filled with angry expletive-ridden shouting sessions by road raged psychopaths, and that all we will be doing is hitting the “ignore” button all day long.  But here’s what I think about that.  I think half of the reason we have so much road rage, and why people act like such jerks on the road, is that we are mostly anonymous out there.  We can zip down and cut off a whole line of cars to get to the off ramp precisely because they are not really people to us, but faceless cars who are blocking our way, and besides, what are they going to do about it?  But if every time we did something on the road, the other drivers could call us up and ask why, maybe we would think twice before making surprise illegal left turns from the right lane.  And maybe if the guy who cut us off called us up to apologize and explain that he is from New Jersey and so does not understand that left turns cannot be made by turning right first, we might not be quite so angry.

Auto manufacturers, the ball is in your court.  Hailing frequencies open!

Posted in Car, Driving, Star Trek.

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