DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Mar 15 2013

Red Means Go

by Veronica W

Imagine this. You are driving down a two lane road, traffic in one lane going east, the other travelling west. The eastbound lane, (yours, of course) is bumper-to-bumper, for some reason in the far distance. Suddenly you see in your side mirror that the driver of a car several lengths behind you, has decided not to wait and has shot out into the westbound lane.  He travels about twenty five feet, then makes a left turn onto a side street,  narrowly escaping a collision with 06-Prepare-to-be-Annoyeda car heading west. I don’t have to imagine this scenario because I have seen it, not once, not twice but three times in as many months.

I learned to drive in New York City, famous for its Andretti style driving.  In fact, I was told that Atlanta’s helter skelter traffic is due to all the transplanted, bad driving northerners who have invaded the Georgia roadways.  While I don’t know about that, I do know that once you’ve driven in gypsy cab land,—aka Manhattan—you can drive pretty much anywhere (…in the U.S. anyway. I hear driving in China is almost surreal). However what happens on the roads today can stress even the most skilled driver, because sometimes it’s impossible to defend yourself against the jaw-dropping, aberrant behavior of other drivers (road construction requires another post).

Tom Vanderbilt has written an informative but highly entertaining book entitled Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us).  For those people who want to listen to something while they drive, it comes in audio book form as well as print. In this book, these questions are answered:

  • Why I Became a Late Merger (and Why You Should Too)
  • Why Does the Other Lane Always Seem Faster
  • Why You’re Not as Good a Driver as You Think You Are
  • Why Ants Don’t Get into Traffic Jams (and Humans Do)
  • Why Women cause More Congestion Than Men (and Other Secrets of Traffic)
  • Why More Roads Lead to More Traffic (and What to Do About It)
  • How Traffic Explains the World

Ronin. Bullitt. What’s Up Doc?. Gone in 60 SecondsThe Bourne Identity.  What do all of these movies have in common? They are all on the Best Car Chase Movies of All Time list. I love car chase movies and  reality is suspended as I watch the mayhem caused by a car hurtling through a crowded street.  I’m not so thrilled when I witness the same recklessness on I-285. Although in my younger years I loved speed, today I often stay in the right lane; not because there is less lead in my foot but because sometimes I think the other two lanes are reserved for the racers. By the way, a car salesman recently told me the 4 cylinder is the new 6 cylinder, the 6 is the new 8, etc.  Hmmm. I wondered why all those little cars seemed so peppy.

Now that you are playing with the idea of leaving your car at home, how will you get to where you need to go?  The “MARTA is smarter” people advocate public transportation.  Fitness folk suggest you walk… or at the very least, ride a bicycle. Since none of these options are viable choices for me, I’ve decided it’s less aggravating to care for and feed a horse. Buggies are optional.

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