My Observations of the Traffic Problem in Washington D.C.
Click the above picture, or this text to go to my second installment on the Traffic Rant series
It seems to me that D.C. has the worst of both worlds. And then there's an extra rudeness that puts some icing on this cake nobody wants. Everybody passes on the right and everybody drives slow. So if you need to get over, there's always somebody there. I swear, if people would just keep a little distance between their bumpers everybody would get home at least 5 minutes sooner. Just today, I watched the ENTIRE left lane move along like an inch worm. (Everybody going, then slamming on brakes, then going, then slamming on brakes. For two plus miles. Because they are all in a hurry and want to go home, to they try to get as close to home as possible, then they are too close to the car in front of them then they have to slow down then the people behind them do the same).
But this style of driving can't have taken over EVERYBODY. There HAS to be some good drivers out there. Well, guess what. You are looking at the only one. [modesty] (And I'm sure everyone else in this city would tell you the same)[/modesty].
Which doesn't quite bring me to my point. That point is D.C. has the WORST INSTERSTATE DESIGN I've ever seen. Wait till you see my pictures, then you'll know why everybody drives slow.
First off...I'd like to mention that the following is something I see in Louisiana a lot. It doesn't apply to the interstate system like it does here, but it is essentially the same thing. A sign telling you to yield when you have your own lane. A sign that has no purpose but to wave at you when it's windy. And also to make people slam on their brakes for no reason. And I tell you what...it only takes one person to do that and it backs up traffic until 8 o'clock at night.
Now this second one is pretty bad. I've never seen anything like this. It features two lanes merging into one, WITH NO WARNING, and then merging into 55 MPH traffic via a yield sign. Freaking ridiculous. No wonder my insurance went up 70 dollars a month when I moved here.
Okay, now here's my favorite. I almost died at this one. Thank the good cheese up in the sky there's only four like these (that I've seen). Those two lanes to the left, yeah, those are the merging lanes. Not normal? Absolutely not! But that's not what I'm worried about. I have no problem with new ideas to improve a traffic system or anything else, as long as it's not screwed up somewhere along the way. Now look at this picture. This CAN'T be the way it was meant to be. Just can't be. I wont accept it. Well, anyway look below.
What you are seeing here folks is tried and true. I was in the right lane of those two merging lanes moving along in light traffic. Before I know it, I'm on the interstate and I hear screeching tires and then a car flys by me on the right. "What the hell did I do?" I asked myself. Then a day later I came back to the same place via the interstate. And I saw it. How long has it been like this? There's a big guard rail on the right, so merging traffic can't even match the speed of the interstate, unless blindly. The least they could do is close off that right lane completely. If I didn't know better, I'd say the whole thing was designed for cold-molasses type traffic. But I do know better, right?
Despite how dangerous the above interchanges are, I have never come as close to wrecking, or even dying as I have at this one. The problem is, is that I usually have a distance of exactly one car length between me and the car in front of me. This is I-395 East/North, just before it crosses the Potomac river. The interstate is four lanes wide, with the far right lane suddenly ending, just before a yield sign where a lot of people are trying to merge. So it should go without saying that those two right lanes get pretty darn backed up in the mornings.
I shouldn't have a problem, as I am a consciously aware driver, and I pay extra attention to stay out of those two lanes. But yet, I still have a problem. My problem is the people who are too stupid to stay out of those lanes (because about a quarter of a mile before this, they are somewhat clear of traffic...) and feel that they deserve better than being there. Since the two left lanes are on a constant move, that should detract the people in that third lane from cutting people off from a dead stop.
NOPE!! Not while I'm in that lane at least. Just yesterday, in the pouring rain, I had a BMW 740i do it. I saw him trying, I leaned on my horn, which caused him to hesitate, and then at last minute (about 30 feet before I'm next to him) he pulls out in front of me. My brakes anti-lock up and I actually had to move halfway into the lane to the left to avoid hitting the (intercourser). I don't know if that caused a car to hit the guardrail in an effort to avoid me, and I didn't look. I have never wanted to hurt somebody so bad as I did right then.
That was the closest I have been to wrecking since I've moved here. I think I'm on a good streak, hearing some of the stories I've heard so far. Anyway, here's the picture.
So I firmly believe that at least 90% of the jammed traffic can be blamed on Washington D.C.'s hellacious merging system. And it is the cause for bad merging in all the adjacent suburbs, as the people who are used to slamming on their brakes and looking for an opening go into places where they have their own lane, and yet there's a yield sign (there's also yield signs where the merging lane is done right. One day I will cut those down.)