I am a bad person.
Yesterday I made the one and only phone call I’ve ever made to an elected official, and it was to beg my local councilman to block measures to slow down traffic on the main roads near my house.
I know that this goes against everything I’m supposed to stand for as a mother. I know I’m supposed to be outraged by speeding. I know I’m supposed to take up the mantel of my New Jersey ancestors and shout “slow down!” while sitting in my lawn chair and shaking my cane at lousy speeders who treat neighborhood streets, parking lots, and school pick-up zones as proverbial racetracks (minus the logo shirts and drunken fans).
To be honest, though, the roots of my anti-traffic slowing activism go back to one day, about 10 years ago, when I was pushing a stroller down State Street—just one block from my home—and witnessed Car A smashing into the rear end of Car B because Car B had slowed suddenly and dramatically to avoid being snared in the radar speed trap Police Officer X, who happened to be lurking on the next corner. Conveniently, Officer X was also an eyewitness and appeared immediately on the accident scene, but, still, it gives one pause—if radar is intended to slow traffic because slowing traffic is intended to prevent accidents…then who is really responsible for the damage?
Add to that my observation that my local roadways aren’t speeding up—more like they’re slowing down. Just last week, I was driving away from my son’s first marching band parade and wound up behind a guy going 15 miles an hour! If he’d have been dressed as a scarecrow, blasting the theme music from Hee Haw, and driving 4 donkeys dressed like his most favorite (least favorite?) members of the Democratic party in the flatbed of his pick-up truck, then I’d have realized that he was caught up in the slow-moving parade spirit. But no, he was just a guy, driving a sedan, texting while he should have been driving, if driving is defined as propelling one’s car down the roadway at a speed faster than that of slugs, sloths, and disabled tortoises.
Unfortunately, even without distracted driving, we’ve still got problems. What MapQuest doesn’t tell you about driving in Dover, Delaware is that you should add 15 minutes to your estimated travel time to account for slow-moving Amish buggies, cars parked at 50 miles an hour in the left lane on the highway, and late model Buicks that take 30 seconds to 5 and a half minutes to complete a right-hand turn.
It’s not like being trapped in a mine for 69 days, but let me tell you, sometimes it’s torture.
So here’s my position on roadway safety: let’s be responsible, people. Speed is associated with a higher severity of injury in auto/pedestrian accidents, so please, obey the speed limit. Speed humps, slow-you-down poles, and tricky changes to road size and shape are the alternative, and not only are they unsightly and annoying, they’re ready to take a big bite out of your car at just that moment when you forget they’re there because you got carried away belting out the chorus to “We Are the Champions” with Freddy Mercury on the radio.
But while you’re at it, please, do at least the speed limit. Do it so that you don’t have to listen to me behind you, crying, “The parade is over–just drive!!!” like a whining little girl. Not only is my whining unsightly and annoying, it’s bound to distract me, you, and everyone else from keeping our eyes on the road. And nobody will benefit from that.