Some nimrod paying attention to everything but the traffic flow stopped dead at the top of the onramp, and if ever I wanted to see that giant foot from Monty Python’s Flying Circus come down, it was right then, right on that Elantra with the Extra Window Tint. But, you know, it could have been a hell of a lot worse:
The plural of anecdote is not data, of course, but as it turns out there is plenty of data to show that “distracted drivers” drive more slowly, are less aggressive in traffic, and are far less interested in passing the cars around them. All that “road rage” that had the media up in arms a few years ago? Turns out you can solve it pretty easily by giving drivers something to watch when they are stopped, or crawling along, in traffic. It has the same pacifying effect that the widespread availability of WiFi on planes has had on annoying conversational sallies from the insurance salesman in the window seat next to you.
Speaking strictly as a motorcyclist who has to deal everyday with a plague of two-ton, seventy-inch-tall vehicles moving at 70 miles per hour around him, I’d much rather deal with distracted drivers than angry ones. I have plenty of strategies to keep from being killed by people who aren’t paying attention, from watching my mirrors and splitting the lane at stoplights to watching the shoulders of the driver in the lane next to me for the twitch that always precedes an un-signaled lane change. But I have much less ability to avoid people who are driving much faster than the flow of traffic and swerving around out of temper or impatience.
And so it came to pass that I came to pass the Elantra, which would be no trick at 45 mph but not particularly easy when you have to do it while surrounded by Friday-afternoon commuters trying their best to do sixty in a 60 zone. I glanced over at the driver’s window, and I saw nothing but the silhouette of a bowed head. At this point, I prefer to think there was prayer going on.