My husband occasionally tells me I get too worked up with road rage as we’re navigating the roads, streets, and stravenues of Tucson, Arizona. For those not familiar with Tucson, as the city has grown the citizens have struck down any and every suggestion of building a crosstown freeway, eschewing the fast roadway experience for a consistent, “it’s a big city but still feels like a small town” experience. Instead of freeways we have arterials with plenty of traffic lights, lowered speed limits to make six- to eight-lane roadways “pedestrian friendly”, and folks driving quickly on surface streets because we don’t have freeways.
Now, I’m not an overly aggressive driver, but because I’ve done a considerable amount of college-grade studying in the whole civil engineering/traffic engineering arena, I know what the books say about highway design versus what the city of Tucson and Pima County have opted to do instead, and there’s a lot of weirdness out there. Add to this the fact that a sizable number of motorists don’t even know how to work their headlights, let alone pay attention to driving instead of using their cell phone like they’re talking into a pop tart, and the plummeting average IQ of the American citizen and I’m pretty sure we can figure out why I occasionally exhibit road rage behavior. It’s not that my husband finds I’m too aggressive, it’s that he has to hear my screaming when no one else on the road is aware of my screaming.
I’ve been doing my best to keep it inside lately. We are too far along our life paths to die in our sleep after listening to the rantings of a bald man.
The thing is, people are stupid, and driving forces everyone down to the least common denominator, especially without freeways. If someone is doing something stupid in front of you, you have to slow down and let them make their dull-normal decision to turn right from the very left hand lane. There’s never a turn signal involved with this, it’s just “oh the GPS just told me to turn right and even though I’ve been in the left lane for the past 65 miles, I’m going to dart across and turn right so I can get into the Walmart parking lot”.
I’ve recently discovered that if drivers can manage to turn their headlights on, they can’t figure out how to use their high beam switch, so in addition to these needlessly bright headlights on trucks that are too tall to begin with, drivers are navigating the stravenues of Tucson with their high beams on because no one knows what that stick on the left side of the steering wheel is suppose to do. Left, right, high, low: just ignore the switch and hope for the best.
Luckily, I’m one of the few remaining Americans that knows what this is.
For those unaware, the little switch hanging down from your rear view mirror switches the mirror from “day” to “night” mode or vice-versa. Night mode dims the entire scene displayed in the mirror so the $100K Ford F350 with a nuclear fusion powered headlight system of eight, ten, or twelve lights barreling down the ass end of your Jeep Cherokee isn’t burning your retinas completely out of your head.
Unfortunately, I live with a few people that don’t know what that switch does and they leave the switch in the night position in the day time and opt to just swing the mirror around instead.
And now you know why I might yell a lot in the car.