L. Neil Smith's
Number 286, August 29, 2004

"Our society undoubtedly over-reacts to naked breasts"

I'm The Asshole!
How I Learned to Embrace Road Rage
Or maybe even
The Adventures of a Libertarian Leadfoot

by Nate Frymire

Exclusive to TLE

First, I would like to point out that I'm not a street racer, I just like driving. The feel of hugging the inside of a corner, making smooth shifts, heading up into the mountains to drive the twisties; all are great ways to spend my free time. For that reason, I drive a slightly modified sport compact. Driving in Colorado Springs has become far less fun and more of a trial in recent years and, in the past few months especially, it's gotten far more dangerous (at least to me). There are several reasons that I can point to, and maybe it's my arrogance talking, but I fail to see how I'm the problem many people seem to think. I prefer going fast, but I adjust my speed to the traffic and road conditions just like any reasonable, responsible person would do and slow down whenever it's warranted. It's what other drivers are doing around me these days that has me worried.

First (to some of you SUV drivers out there): 300 Horsepower does not a sportscar make!!! I'm sure many of you can beat me in a drag race. I know this and accept it, and wish you would stop the dickwaving. HEMI is well and good, but it can't make your SUV turn or stop faster. Besides, I'm not out to race you, I just like to travel at a rate of speed that makes me comfortable. If I want to race, I'll go to a racetrack.

Second: green means go! Basic consideration for the other drivers on the road would dictate that even though you aren't in a hurry, the people behind you might be. Even more simply put, more people through each light means there will be less traffic congestion. Stop sitting there with your thumb in your ass and drive. I'm not asking you to squeal tires every time the light goes green, I'm just asking you to get out of the bloody way when the light changes. As a corollary, I really wish people would stop leaving thirty feet between themselves and the car in front of them. I can't see a single good reason for it, and it makes it hard for people to get into turn lanes if you're in the way.

Third: When you are on the highway, keep right! I've been stuck in far too much highway congestion because some nipplehead has decided he's going fast enough and everybody else can be damned. Make your pass, and get over! And don't let your cruise control dictate; you don't even need to disengage it on most models if you accelerate, just hit the gas. It'll reengage when you take your foot of the pedal. I heard recently that a law was passed to ticket left lane cruisers, but as usual the worst offenders will be the most seldom ticketed because cops won't want to fight through the long line of cars to get to the offender.

Fourth (and most important to me): Mind your business! If you think I'm going too fast, that's your hang-up, and it's not my concern. I am willing to take responsibility for my actions, and that includes accidents I may have while driving. I don't tailgate or try to make traffic move faster, so have the courtesy not to cut me off or try to block me in because you want me to go slower. I don't get in anyone's way when I'm driving; in fact it's just the opposite because I'm trying to get out of everyone else's way. Being cut off by someone trying to cause an accident is something none of us needs. Still, it happens to me at least three times a week. In those instances I'm glad I have good brakes. A couple weeks ago, a minivan driver not only cut me off when I moved around him to pass, but he then straddled both lanes of traffic to keep me from getting by.

And I'm the asshole.

I see at least a dozen close calls every week in this town. Some of it's caused by people like the one above with a minivan, a Jesus fish, and buckets of righteous indignation, some of it by simply not paying any attention. Yesterday I was driving my mother around town (in her Jeep; she hates my car because she has trouble getting in and out, and she feels like she's about to scrape her backside on the road because it sits low) and we were almost sideswiped by a woman who appeared to be looking right at us. A Liberty is a pretty large vehicle in my estimation, and hard to miss, but she somehow managed not to see it.

It all comes down to this: I don't impose my values and standards on other drivers. I don't want everyone roaring about town like the devil is chasing them, and I don't want people to drive their vehicles in a manner for which they are not designed. I just want to be left alone whenever possible to drive in a way that I feel comfortable. Drive as slowly as you like; if I can, I'll pass you. If I can't, I'll grin and bear it. This is still the land of the free, right?

In a future column, I'll shine a light on the racket the cops and courts have going to "crack down" on speeding...

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