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Monday, September 16, 2013

NARCISSISM ON THE HIGHWAY

BRYCE ON DRIVING

- The problem is not with our highways, it is the people driving on them.

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I recently experienced a near accident on US19, a major artery traversing Pinellas County vertically. As I was approaching a left turn lane, a young man in an SUV suddenly darted out of the travel lane and was about to broadside me. I immediately laid on my horn and took evasive measures which caused me to momentarily cross the dividing curb and then back into the left lane and ahead of the other automobile. Fortunately, I possess good reaction time and I survived unscathed. I was mad at the offender but kept my cool and stayed in my car as no damage had been done.

Following this, I started to think about all of the laws, rules, and regulations associated with driving. First, to obtain a license, we have to be properly trained which typically begins in High School and concludes with a driver's test, usually written and behind the wheel. Then there is the billions of dollars we spend every year by the federal and state departments of transportation. Construction of our highways, both large or small, have to be designed in accordance with precise specifications. Following this, lines have to be painted on the roadway, and a variety of street signs, sensors, traffic lights and cameras added. We also have law enforcement personnel trained in driving ordinances. Automobiles are also manufactured in accordance with precise safety specifications. When you consider all of this, you have to wonder why we have any traffic accidents whatsoever.

Maybe it's the unwritten rules of the road causing the problems. For example, if there is inclement weather which we may have trouble traveling in, the obvious solution is to turn on your headlights so other motorists can see you. If really bad, pull off the road and wait for the weather to subside, but many people do not. We should also pull over if we become tired and begin to fall asleep, but some people will not. If we are experiencing car trouble, such as a flat tire or radiator troubles, we should also pull over, but some people keep truckin' for some unfathomable reason. Then there is the problem with telephone calls and texting which, of course, distracts drivers regardless of how good they believe themselves to be.

In other words, most traffic accidents are caused by human error. Think about it. If everyone simply paid attention and followed the rules of the road as clearly marked on the highway, there should be no accidents, except those involving acts of God. As humans though we tend to only be concerned with our own personal needs as opposed to others, such as drinking coffee while we drive, shaving or applying makeup, reading a newspaper while in traffic, texting and talking. I tend to believe most Americans use their automobiles more as a lavatory or kitchen as opposed to what it was designed for. As an aside, German automotive engineers were baffled by our obsession for cup holders. They rightly believed drivers should be focused on driving, not drinking coffee.

The real problem is the narcissistic behavior exhibited by a lot of drivers. This is where people drive as if there is nobody else on the road, just themselves. They exhibit no courtesy, turn in and out of traffic at their own whim, and refuse to conform to the rules of the road, just whatever pleases them. In my near accident, the other driver didn't consider anyone around him, least of all me. He just wanted to cross lanes and get into my left turning lane. Despite my honking on the horn, the other driver was un-phased.

There is talk the roadways of the future will be electronic thereby requiring less human involvement in the actual driving of the vehicle. Instead, passengers will program their destination into their "smart car" which will then transport them to their destination in the most expeditious route possible, or perhaps the most scenic. As for me, I will miss driving as I rather enjoy it, as I suspect many others do as well, but such is the price for narcissistic drivers.

Mark Twain is alleged to have said, "Man is really the most interesting jackass there is," and I see no evidence to refute him.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE PROBLEM WITH SHEEPLE - The amalgamation of "sheep" and "people" (and our society).

- How children are being weaned on technology, and how this will affect society.

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