Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Observations from behind the wheel

I was driving to my sister’s house the other day and do you know what I noticed? Nobody drives the speed limit any more. On highways. Except me. And my husband. Listen, I’m not proud of the fact that I’m going the speed limit. And apparently everybody zooming past isn’t either. But because Big Blue is a one and a half ton gas sucker-upper (not diesel), Jim is a fanatic conscientious driver when it comes to conserving gas. On a good day, when he’s driving, and we’re not pulling the trailer, AND the wind is behind us, we MAY get 9 miles to the gallon. MAYBE. He keeps a chart with our gas mileage (yeah, I know, I married a geek.) Every time I drive the truck, I screw up the gas mileage (snicker) because I tend to have a lead foot. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t speed through towns, etc. Only on the highways – for fear I’ll get run over. Of course, a semi would have to run me over, and even then I don’t know how much damage it would cause with our big truck. I just hate going slow when everyone else is speeding by us. I feel like I’m in a Flintstone car and my little feet are running as fast as they can but to no avail.

Sometimes when Jim is driving I feel like I want to jump out of my seat.

“What’s the hurry?" He asks. "We have all the time in the world.”

That’s true. He’s retired – I don’t work. We don’t have to be anywhere specifically.

So now that we’re camping near my home, I tend to drive the truck a lot to visit my family and friends. I try to behave and drive the speed limit for Jim’s sake and for his precious little chart. But then it got me wondering. Are speed limits just suggestions? Because around here, nobody seems to be following them. If it’s 55 mph, people drive at least 70 mph. MINIMUM. Yeah. So then you come across us in the right lane at 55 mph. It’s not so bad if that’s the speed limit. Ok, we’re the only legal ones. It’s when the speed limit is 65 or 70 when it’s bad and we’re STILL doing 55 mph. C’mon, you say. Ten to fifteen BELOW the limit? I KNOW! Can’t you get a ticket for going TOO SLOW?

And now the latest things are the photo enforced stop lights. Can you say BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU?

It’s true that many people push the limit and go through the red light. And if you’ve ever gone through a yellow light and only to see it turn red in the intersection – have you ever contemplated whether you did the right thing? Then looked in the rear view mirror and seen three cars right on your tail? Yeah. You did the right thing. The past few weeks I’ve found myself in that very same predicament. I didn’t think I could stop the truck in time without having to slam on my brakes really hard. I wasn’t sure if it was a photo-enforced intersection, but if so I hope they can’t read lips because I was saying, “Shit! Shit! Shit!” as I flew through it.

Plus, have you noticed how quick lights change when you are trying to cross the street? It may flash 12 seconds and you have to scurry across several lanes. The other day I watched a poor old man with his walker try and cross 8 lanes of traffic. He walked so slowly, pushing along his walker with wheels. I prayed the light wouldn’t change while he was in the middle of the street. He made it to the median when the light changed. He conveniently had a seat in his walker, which he promptly sat down, and waited for the light to change again, before finishing the last four lanes. It was a little comical to see him sitting calmly amongst all the lanes of traffic. It reminded me of this.

I don’t know if construction is bad by you, but here the saying goes, “In Illinois there are two seasons – winter and construction.” Almost every road you travel has some kind of construction on it. As of July 1st, a new law was passed in Illinois. If you are caught speeding in a construction zone, (which is photo enforced) the first ticket will cost you $375.00. The second ticket will cost you $1,000 and comes with a 90-Day suspension. Drivers will also receive demerit points against their license, which allow insurance companies to raise Insurance rates. That's a pretty stiff fine. But it shouldn’t be a problem for us. We’ll be the ones you’ll be frustrated to be behind in that single lane. Honk your horn to say hello.

"Look , hon,", I'll say to Jim, "They’re waving hello. With their middle finger."


Rae said...

I think everybody realizes that the highway patrol will only stop you when you are 10 mph over the limit. Plus we seem to live in a society ready to get everywhere quickly.

I am so familiar with the Illinois construction. I always leave early when I travel because I know somewhere on the road I will be slowed down by a man in a green vest being very brave in the middle of the road holding a construction sign.

Sunny said...

I actually did know someone that got pulled over for driving too slow!'s a long story. I got a big smile from your posting.
Sunny :)

Allen said...

My grandfather actually got pulled over for going to slow. He even got a ticket out of it.

I am the one in Indiana that goes the speed limit too. I have a little car, its a 4 door, metro - geo. Good on gas, but on the highway, the semis scare me. I figure if I go slow enough they will go around me.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Being the enforcer of my own speed limit here has forced me to look at my speedometer a lot more. I think that most of us are just going along with the rate of speed around us. I drive A VW bug and the semis really scare me, especially since one rear eneded me ON THE INTERSTATE! In road construction, no less. I now drive the speed limit unless a semi is coming up behind me.......then I get the hell out of the way!

SquirrelQueen said...

Speed limit, well less just say that I drive an older model Camaro and sometimes I feel the need for speed. With the higher gas prices I do try to keep it around 55mph most of the time.

Traffic lights, usually not a problem except when a big diesel pickup is on my bumper then I just hope the photo radar catches him too!

WhisperingWriter said...

I always go the speed limit. My husband says I drive like his Grandma.

Stephen Baird said...

Don't know if you read on my blog back quite a number of posts. We will be at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque too. I think we will be there for the last three morning launches.
nikonsniper steve