Q It's time someone spoke up for the aggressive drivers of the world.
A The who?
Q You know, the pushy ones who change lanes and wait until the last second to merge back when the lane ends. The drivers who seek out the fastest moving track on the road in an effort to get where they're going more quickly. The ones who get ahead.
A letter in my local newspaper called us "miscreants" and demanded an end to our "pushy" practices because we clog up traffic for everyone else, creating jams and cutting people off, as though we are a bunch of scofflaws. In response to this point of view, which is widespread, I feel the need to defend myself and others like me who are the miscreants.
A Today's your day, then.
Q The bottom line is this: Aggressive drivers are the primary movers in traffic and their behavior increases the overall average rate of flow -- for everyone. Anyone who has ever watched a river flow knows that slip-streams form and eddies occur in an overall pattern which results in the water moving at its greatest possible speed. This happens because voids are immediately filled from behind by the fastest-moving particles.
Cars on the road should (and most often do) move in the same way, as long as traffic laws are observed and safe driving practices are adhered to. The surest way to slow down the overall flow is to impose restrictions which force everyone to remain in a straight line, one behind the other, with no chance for movement.
It may appear to be more fair, but forcing every car to wait its turn would make commuting worse for all of us. As unfair as it may seem that some people get ahead on the road, give thanks that they do knowing you'll arrive sooner because they did.
A Hmmm. Studies show that traffic flows the best at around 55 mph with few lane changes, etc. But speeders and road boulders alike can bring the commute to a crawl.
Q I'm moved to write after reading the question about the flow of traffic on the Dumbarton Bridge resulting from placement and removal of a police cruiser. The series of effects, I think, illustrates the evils of following too closely. Let me explain:
One would imagine (as did the cops) such a placement would result in traffic slowing from the 70-80 mph range to 65 or less. But, as the word "congestion" suggests, the roadside attraction did far more than slow traffic. It's typical of traffic patterns when cars follow too closely.
The lead driver, going 75, sees the cop car and slows to 65. Car No. 2 can't react in time, brakes and slows to 60. Car No. 3 has to brake hard and reaches 55. By the tenth car in line, traffic comes to a halt.
The phenomenon of accordion traffic occurs whenever the lead of a line of cars following tail to nose slows for any reason, be it a rubberneck event, an incline, a curve or a dropped cellphone. For my money, not leaving enough space in front of your car is one of the most dangerous faults one can commit in driving. Rather than placing empty cop cars on the shoulders, the cops and CHP should be warning drivers and writing tickets for failing to maintain sufficient distance. Ask your readers whether they've ever been warned or cited for driving too close. And tell them, if they're using their brakes on a free-flowing freeway, they're too close to the car ahead.
A Mr. Jacobowitz, please chat with Mr. Russell.
Q Do you have an update on opening the Butterfield Boulevard extension to Monterey Road in Morgan Hill?