Bottlenecks

The American Highway Users Alliance released a study today naming some of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the US. Not surprisingly, three of them (including two of the top ten) are right here in Atlanta. I had a lot of time to think about that this morning, as my normal 40-minute drive to work turned into a two-hour marathon played out in slow motion. This, combined with the horrible day I had yesterday, has put me in a particularly foul humour. Pardon my ranting.

If we can all go 40 miles per hour, then come to a complete stop, then go 40 miles per hour again, then stop again … why can’t we just go at a steady 20 miles per hour and save the wear and tear on the brakes and engine? I don’t understand this at all, there needn’t be this “caterpillar effect” where the traffic bunches up and then unbunches again at seemingly random intervals.

Also, if a long line of cars can all go at a steady 30 miles per hour, why can’t that same line of cars go just as easily at 60 mph? Is there one slow jerk at the front of the line who’s holding everyone up?

It’s also really annoying to me that automobiles don’t obey Bernoulli’s Principle, because if they did, things would go a lot more smoothly. Imagine a tunnel, or a bridge, or an accident scene … any spot where the road narrows. Bernoulli says that as we approach a constriction, velocity should increase, but instead, in traffic, it decreases as bozos do the worst possible thing and load up on the brakes. It bothers me greatly that in this case, simple molecules behave much more intelligently than do most drivers.

Why must an accident on one side of a divided interstate always slow traffic in the other direction too? Gawkers, that’s why. Everyone must slow down and have a look, in case there’s some blood or gore or detached body parts to entertain them. If you want a good, close look at an accident, please, DRIVE INTO A TREE! Otherwise, have a little decency, face forward, say a quiet prayer and drive on.

My favorite idiot is the one who’s talking on his cell phone, as oblivious to the long line of cars backed up behind him as he is to the miles of open road ahead, so absorbed in his conversation that he’s forgotten he’s driving a car. My second favorite idiot is the woman who is putting on her bloody makeup in rush-hour traffic, with the vanity mirror pulled down so that nuisances like the road ahead won’t distract her from the all-important lipstick blotting and eyeliner application. These ladies get special mention because it’s so much fun to distract them. A well-timed horn blast can cause them to create some spectacular makeup blunders, with bonus points if I can get them to ruin their clothing as well. 🙂

Traffic reporter Chris Monroe, who works for Clear Channel’s “Total Traffic” and appears on several local Clear Channel stations, apparently isn’t happy being identified by name alone. He’s taken to calling himself “Commander Chris Monroe”.

Chris has some big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Keith Kalland, was well known and well liked in the community, and had a real connection with his audience. He died of a heart attack last year, and Chris inherited the top spot. I guess this “Commander” stuff is an effort to make his name memorable, but I sent him an e-mail this morning to remind him that Keith didn’t need a military rank to get the job done. Besides, what’s he in “command” of?

*sigh* OK, I’m all ranted out. I need sleep. 🙂

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