Sorry, I feel like ranting today... It's very well known that people in Seattle don't really know how to drive. But sometimes it really feels like something needs to be done to keep roads safer to drive. I'll start with some examples from my 15-minute drive back home from choir rehearsal tonight:
- I'm driving down Sand Point Way at a part where there are two lanes and the speed limit is 40 mph. I was driving on the right lane at speed limit and I see a car also driving on the right lane at about 30-35 mph. That's fine. People should be allowed to drive below speed limit if they want, so I move to the left lane to pass him. I was going to turn left in a few blocks anyway, so it was all fine. However, the person decides to also move to the left lane and continue driving at below speed limit! Note, there was nobody else on the road. At first I thought that maybe this person was also planning on turning left in a few blocks, so it was alright. However, he didn't. He just stayed on the left lane driving at his slow speed until I had to turn left. (sorry, I don't want to say it was a man driving by using "he" - it was too dark to see the gender of the driver). There is one rule that Seattle drivers need to understand: only use the left lane for passing or when you need to turn left!
- A little earlier than that, I was driving on 125th on the right lane and the car in front of me decided to turn right. He (again, I don't know the gender of the driver) signaled (GOOD!) and then slowed down... And then continued slowing down... And slowing down... When he turned, he was almost stopped before turning! Second rule of the day: you (almost never) need to slow down much to turn! There are some exceptions, though: sharp curves, bad weather, bad car or if the driver has a medical condition in which he should avoid sudden movements. I can't really tell if it was the latter, but from the way the person was driving before (stopping at lights), it didn't seem so. And certainly it wasn't any of the other 3 cases.
So what can be done about it? I'm sure those drivers don't read my blog. I also don't think that the ripple effect of the few people reading this blog and talking with their friends about it if they think it's insightful (which really isn't) will change anything. Talking about driving doesn't really have much of a viral effect because you can't act on it reactively (like retwitting or forwarding an email). So here is my suggestion:
What if each person had the ability to vote somebody out of the streets? Voting costs some small amount. Once that person is voted more than X number of times, they get a warning. Two warnings they are required to take a defensive driving course that is paid (partly or fully) by the votes of the people that cared enough to ask you to learn how to drive better.
I probably would go broke if I actually did this, but I think it would be an interesting experiment.