On the road

I-5 traffic snarl

A needed traffic reform

When did they stop teaching slower traffic keep right in driver education?

I spent yesterday on the road from Palm Springs to Twain Harte, just over 500 miles. It was an uneventful drive, for the most part.

slower traffic keep right

All this time on the road gave me a lot of time to think, especially after the CD player stopped working and there was nothing on the radio but right-wing talk shows. Inexorably, my attention focused on a particularly irksome type of driver: those that camp out in the fast-lane alongside a car in the next lane oblivious to the fact that a convoy of twenty cars is following them, all cars that would be going faster if the blankety-blank car at the head of the parade would get out of the way.

I have concluded that a new traffic violation needs to be created; for clarity it can be called obstruction. A driver shall be deemed guilty of obstruction whenever he or she causes three or more cars to become bunched up in the fast lane, forward progress impeded by the car at the front of the cluster and by sufficient traffic in the number two lane to prevent getting around the obstructing car.

If the highway patrol would occupy themselves giving citations to people who obstruct traffic rather than for those who are going fast, the roads would be far safer, and the incidence of road rage would surely diminish. Obstruction could be easily recognized from the air, or even by spy satellite. The cars on the highway form an unmistakable spatial pattern.

I propose that there be real teeth to the obstruction law. On the first offense, the obstructing driver shall be fined an amount no less than the equivalent of one day's pay. On the second offense, the fine escalates to the equivalent of two-weeks pay. On the third offense, the driver's car is simply impounded for a period no less than 30 days.

But what if the offending driver is unemployed? That's easy: put them in an orange jumpsuit and have them join one of those crews picking up trash along the highway for a week. Other suitable public service tasks could be substituted, such as filling potholes, cleaning parks, and so on.

In the meantime, until the necessary law can be enacted, I think I'll start a business to produce windshield stickers as a short-term aid to solving the problem. These would consist of a narrow strip of transparent/translucent plastic to adhere to the top inside edge of the windshield, imprinted with the words IF YOU CAN READ THIS PLEASE GO FASTER! Of course, the printing would be reversed so that it would be readable in the rear-view mirror of an obstructing car.


In the interest of customer satisfaction, I envision producing these messages in a variety of phrasing. Those who prefer a less subtle message might chose from alternatives such as these:


I think there would be a market for these. I could sell them on E-bay and make a bundle.

clear obstruction button

Automobile manufacturers could offer an accessory LED display across the windshield to display these messages. I envision a control button on the steering wheel to activate the display. Pressing the button displays the mildest, most-polite form of the message. Pressing and holding the button escalates the message to its most direct and emphatic form.

An even better technological solution would be to have the button activate a display in the obstructing car.

It is worth considering, perhaps, that instead of activating a display, the button simply acts as a remote control for the accelerator in the obstructing car. Rather like the volume control on your TV remote control.