The Tyranny of High Velocity

These are scary days, in general, and everyone seems to want their own Sherman tank in the form of various SUV models. The good news is we’re seeing more low-fuel-consumption SUV models on the market. The bad news is these slightly smaller SUVs have done nothing to quell owner’s belief that, in fact, they are riding in sports cars.

Case in point: Apparently in my region of New Jersey one is not allowed to do the speed limit on local roads without getting harassed off the road. The other day I was driving down one of the prettiest suburban streets in New Jersey. (If you look at the intro to NBC’s show “Ed” you will see the Rialto Theater, one of the oldest continuously operated movie theaters in the country. It’s right here on Broad Street, in my town of Westfield, where I was driving.)

Anyway, a couple days ago I’m doing 26 mph in a 25 mph zone, fairly safe from police radar, and a woman in a BMW SUV gets right on my tail. She’s right on my bumper, making gestures, pushing to pass me on the right on a two-lane road with no shoulder. I’m not playing her game. I refuse to speed up and get a ticket. She stays on my bumper, even after I touch the brakes to indicate I find disfavor with this tailgating. I hold my ground, yes, driving about as fast as my grandmother would recommend. Eventually, she flips out and crosses the double line to pass me on the left doing about 45 mph. Ironically, this was in front of two very old churches and the police station! She broke the law, but not before raising my blood pressure a few ticks.

She got away with it. It seems like they always do. New York license plates, too, but it’s not uncommon to see New Jersey drivers doing the same thing.

On major highways in New Jersey for the most part there isn’t much to see (parts of the Garden State Parkway are an exception, there are a few others). It doesn’t bother me much on a six-lane highway to see people cruise well past the speed limit in the passing lane. Like I said, there isn’t much to see. But the beauty of New Jersey (and yes, there still is much beauty) is off the major routes, in what’s left of the country and farmlands and, in my case, the lovely, old tree-lined streets of a certain suburb. Alas, anecdotally, from my perspective, it seems too few people are taking the time see the sights and smell the roses. What are they rushing toward?

Apparently, The Art of Speeding has become a popular phenomenon, with near 100 percent participation here in the Garden State. For those of less inclined to speed, check out State Traffic Safety Information. There’s some sobering statistics to share with our speeding friends.

Speed sometimes kills. At a minimum, it can negatively affect quality of life. I say, as a nation, we need to slow things down a bit and think about what we’re doing more. Maybe this should apply to computers, too?

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