Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Uncivil Twilight

Around here, drivers seem to get more aggressive in September. This year it was a month late, possibly as a result of climate change. The increase in pushiness reinforced the second level of driver misbehavior that comes out after sunset.

When I got really good lights I tried pushing the commuting season into the months of darkness. Immediately I noticed that on certain parts of my route I could not control traffic as well as I do in the summer, even with summer's traditionally recognized heavier traffic and influx of "idiots from away." October brings the ghouls and goblins, the creatures of darkness, I guess. And a lot of them drive pickup trucks.

Fortunately, I can switch to the park and ride option, which uses mostly dirt roads and the rail trail. I've run into one or two off-season trail abusers over the years, but it's nothing like the rudeness on the road.

At different hours the mix of drivers might turn more compliant. I doubt it on the near end of my route, because night time brings out the hot rodders and tire shredders. They seem really attracted to the intersection near my house. It may be the only place for three miles in any direction where there's room to do a doughnut. Then there's a great straightaway in front of my house for the approach and the getaway.

To avoid the attention of violent redneck humorists I have gone night riding a few times around my neighborhood with only a headlight, no tail lights or reflectivity of any kind. At the first hint of an approaching vehicle I would dive for the ditch, snap off the light and freeze. If you can't be seen, acknowledged and respected, don't be seen at all. But when you do that you find out how many vehicles go by you on what seemed like a nearly deserted road. Don't be in a hurry to get anywhere.

An awful lot of human survival in general seems to depend on not meeting a psychopath at the wrong time. No strategy of defense or avoidance is perfect. And there are always the idiots.

Conditions are only slightly better driving a car in all this. You don't get more respect from other road users who are aggressive or inattentive. You just have a bit more armor plating. But the park and ride is better than no ride at all. I know its limitations.


John said...

Do schools start in September there? If so that might be a big contributing factor to SADS. I find as a schoolbus driver the moods/behavior of people are cyclical, the bad behavior ebbs and flows with the seasons, moon-phases,and the disruption of peoples regularly scheduled activities. November is particularly bad in NJ, school is in session about 15 days and the leftover Halloween candy doesnt help much either. Stay safe out there.

cafiend said...

I've noticed the increase in irritability for years and attributed it to the tightening of schedules after summer's ease and the shortening of daylight tapping into whatever is left of people's natural responses to seasonal change.