Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seasonal Road Rage

Several days a week I drive 40 miles each way to an office on the other side of the Phoenix metropolitan area.  I’d rather work from home, but the boss wants to stare over our shoulders while we’re designing (can you say “control freak?”) and I generally only telecommute when I’m sick.

I don’t actually mind the commute during the summer.  It gives me an hour to wake up in the morning and an hour to put work behind me at night.  I sing along with the radio or talk to myself or mentally compose entries for this blog.  Unfortunately, today is the first official day of fall, and I know that starting October 1 the snowbirds will be flooding back.

Don’t get me wrong; winter visitors bring considerable economic benefits to our area, and many of them are perfectly nice people.  I don’t object to seasonal residents per se; I object to them as drivers.  I don’t think they should be allowed to bring their vehicles with them, or to rent cars once they’re here.  These are people with a lot of leisure time, after all; let them walk wherever they want to go.

Why do I want to deprive them of their automobiles?  Because their numbers are legion and their driving habits are unpredictable.  In New York, you know the drivers are aggressive; in parts of the Midwest, you can expect men in seed caps to drive as if they just got off their tractors; but drivers here are from all over the country and half of Canada, and at any moment they may unexpectedly slam on the brakes, change lanes without looking, or attempt to break the sound barrier while slaloming around the other cars on the road.  The Phoenix area has heavy traffic even in the summer, and in the winter some sections of our highways are gridlocked for hours at a time.  One accident on the northern loop of the 101 can change my drive home from one hour to three, and the incidence of those accidents soars as soon as our temperatures drop.  I may need to stock my car with emergency rations and a few good books.

I know the state will never take their cars away from our migratory neighbors – but I can dream, can’t I?

“I represent what is left of a vanishing race, and that is the pedestrian.... That I am still able to be here, I owe to a keen eye and a nimble pair of legs.  But I know they'll get me someday.” ~Will Rogers

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