Notes From My Knapsack 6-23-16
Waiting for a light to change, or go on...
What did you learn from your experience?
That question kept coming up in the wake of my column about spending a month following the speed limit. To briefly recap, I spent the month of May trying my level best to observe the posted speed limit wherever I went. 55 out on the highway to Newark, 70 on into Columbus, 35 on the main drags and 25 or even 20 where applicable.
And I got honked at. A lot.
Not complaining, just saying.
I will freely admit it was an experiment, and it's over, and I'm not doing quite the same thing anymore. We all learn, even from driver's ed teachers, that there's basically a "cushion" out there, and unless there's a "Strictly Enforced" sign attached below the speed limit placard, or allowing for weather or other special conditions, you're not going to get a ticket for going 59 miles an hour in a 55 zone, and so on. How much of a cushion you think the Flying Tire Salesmen or local constabulary allow is up to you to estimate.
But what did I learn? A good question. Did I learn I generally drive too fast? That's the kind of answer you're supposed to reply with. But I didn't, and still don't think so.
Less congenially, I will say that you all drive too darn fast. You just do. Maybe not you, but it sure seems like it's most of you. Not to go all Andy Rooney on y'all, but this experiment made it even more apparent that turn signal usage is at a minimum, getting passed on Newark-Granville Road is not as unusual as it should be (yes, on double-lines, too), and the general impatience, agitation, and near-insistence that getting somewhere faster is a constitutional right leaves me as depressed as a Republican after listening to a Trump speech.
For the most part, we all just need to ease up, share the road, and calm down. A lot.
What I worry will sound contradictory is that the other thing I learned is that following speed limits strictly is a real pain in the tookus. I was constantly trying to figure out exactly what it was in any given stretch, and I'm almost of a mind to say there needs to be some attention given to rationalization of speed limit postings.
It jumps up, then backs down again, and suddenly pops up. Having the experience I do in village governance, I have a sneaking suspicion that not a few of these changes in posted speed limits have to do with who in that area has been able to make a loud enough fuss for long enough to get a change made.
It could also be the case that, to simplify things, more speed limits should be made lower. And I might still need to slow down myself. My experiment showed me over and over again that people who jerked forward, honked, passed, swerved around to my right at intersections where I didn't turn on red fast enough, et cetera et cetera . . . they generally were just getting out of their car as I pulled in next to them at the same destination, smiled at them, and walked in seconds behind the one in a hurry. Some of you know who you are.
It's just a good time this summer for us all to try it. Slow down.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's usually in a hurry, but tries not to rush whenever he can. Tell him your high-speed troubles at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.