Babies Behind the Wheel? Driving In a Police State

I make no quip about my driving skills.  On a scale from 1 to 10 I’m probably closer to 20.  The funny thing is, even after all these years I still find a way to impress myself occasionally with my driving skills. It puts a smile on my face.  But there is one thing about driving that is NOT funny.  Yes, there are a lot of terrible drivers out there.  Way too many if you ask me.  Yet, the more I drive, and the more places I drive, why am I starting to get the feeling that I am constantly being filmed, monitored and babied behind the wheel of my own car?

A police state is one where the government exercises strict and repressive controls of its people.  I can find no better example of this in America today, than what is going on with the Department of Transportation.  I honestly believe that they want to make the driving experience as horrible as possible so that people will leave their cars at home and take public transportation, thereby having fewer cars on the road as an attempt to solve car emission/ environmental issues.

At first, I thought it was just a Washington D.C. issue.  Before I moved to DC, I was looking for an apartment close to the Howard campus.  Coming from the Pacific Northwest, an apartment three or four miles isn’t that big of a deal.  I could narrow that down to a 5-6 minute drive.  But for some unexplainable reason, when I Google mapped the driving distance from the apartments to campus, it would always tell me it was a 20-plus minute drive.  I kept thinking to myself, “why does this drive take so long?”  It wasn’t long after that I was picking up my rental car from the Dulles Airport.  My first experience driving to the hotel included running through a toll road.  I had no idea about having to pay a fee to get off the freeway!  Talk about ridiculous!  So if I don’t have any cash I have to pay a fine or just keep driving?  Shame on whoever’s idea that was.  The rest of my time spent driving around DC that first week was spent randomly pulling over on the side of the road for no reason because the cops ALWAYS had their lights on, even when they weren’t pulling anyone over.  Again, I was not used to this method.  I was under the impression that cops only turned their lights on when they were actively pursuing someone; otherwise they were a regular driver like the rest of us.  But not in DC.  Every cop on the road had his or her lights on.  I was so confused I couldn’t wait to turn my rental in.  Of course, to do so would mean driving back across town.  So, why does it take 23 minutes to drive 4 miles?  Because there are so many lights!  Even when there is no block.  Just a random light for no reason.  It was then I understood why before I left for the east coast everyone was talking about how great the train was in the DMV and how nobody in the area has a car.  Yea, because driving around town is absolutely miserable!  With all the monuments and history around town, it’s like a maze.  On top of that are all the speed zones with photos and cameras.  Sending people tickets in the mail? Is that really how low we as a society are going?  I know we are better than that.

Just when I thought that I had left all that foolishness behind, I returned home to find that the Oregon Department of Transportation has also decided to put pacifiers in the mouths of Oregon drivers.  I was recently profiled for my excellent driving skills and had to take a seatbelt safety course, and I must say, the entire process was pretty offensive.  And for once it just wasn’t the other people in the room.  Usually it’s the barrage of stupid questions coming from the audience because they fail to realize we can all get out a lot faster if nobody asked questions and just let the presenter speak.  But in this case, what was offensive was the presenter on behalf of the Department of Transportation.  I understand that seat belts save lives, speed limits are “suggestions” that they pass off as maximum speed allowed, and that backing up and parallel parking is a skill lost on many drivers, but cars with back-up cameras, Wi-Fi, and the ability to  “communicate” with other cars and hit the brakes before the driver?  Doesn’t that sound a little creepy and invasive?  I mean, what’s next?  People won’t even steer their own car?  The wonderful employee from the Department of Transportation informed us that these new “improvements” will soon be coming to all newly produced vehicles, in addition to a few of my already driving favorites I’ve seen lately such as:

  • Roundabouts: the state of Oregon, among some others, wants to eliminate the left turn. Apparently the majority of t-bone car accidents take place when vehicles are attempting to make a left-turn.  Thus, roundabouts will be replacing 4-way stops.  Shame on you Oregon!  Talk about one of the worst ideas ever. Have you ever tried to switch lanes in a roundabout? Seriously, if you can’t make a left turn, how in the world did you get a license in the first place?
  • Random marked/ unmarked crosswalks: you wonder why there are so many fat people walking around?  One reason is because people won’t walk one block to the light and push the button and wait.  Boy, that sounds like too much work.  I swear, some of the crosswalks are about 100 feet away from a stop light.  It just makes no sense!  Even in a 45 mph zone, you expect a driver to stop immediately whenever a person decides to take off across the crosswalk?  For shame.  I am all for pedestrians’ having certain privileges, but this is in no way safer for anybody.  Walk to the light, hit the button and wait.

We are going the wrong way in the country on a lot of things; too many to mention here.  And here is another example of treating people like babies and dropping our standards for the lowest members of our society.  I’m not even a big climate change guy in the first place, but clearly it is the mission of some to make the driving experience completely miserable and horrendous to the point that people don’t want to drive and are resigned to taking public transportation in its various forms.  Surely people will always drive.  But with gas prices and the horrible driving conditions, including drivers, we are pushing people to their respective, if albeit mediocre, limits.

I propose instead that states make getting drivers licenses more difficult.  Don’t take away left turns from all of us great drivers out there because some moron doesn’t know how to look both ways before crossing the street.  Why do people only take a driving test once?  You should have to brush up on and prove you driving skills on a biannual basis.  Some people are just terrible and unfit to be behind the wheel.  Unfortunately, they are taking away the rights from all the great drivers like me.  Why do we have to always treat everyone like babies just because a few people don’t get it?  Give the drivers license to the big boys and girls and let the babies take the bus and train.  Some of us enjoy the privilege of driving and treat it with the respect it deserves.  And yet, all too much in 2014 the government treats everyone like the lowest members of society.  Raise the standards to get better drivers on the road, not ruin the driving experience by “dumbing-down” the road for every moron checking their Facebook on the freeway.  Shame on you for consistently basing the status quo on the intelligence and reason of the lowest, most deplorable members of society.

And if you disagree with me you’re a racist, homophobic, androphobe…

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