Friday, February 7, 2014

Crapital City Traffic

It's not just bad decisions that come out of DC, it's also bad drivers.  Anybody that's driven in the Beltway knows what I'm talking about.  The Washington, DC metropolitan area has some of the worst drivers and worst traffic in the nation.  According to recent studies it actually tops the list for both.

In 2013, DC ranked at the bottom of All State's best drivers report for the sixth year in a row.  The likelihood of a DC driver getting into an accident is more than twice that of the national average.  Nearby Baltimore had the second worst drivers in the nation.  Since both DC and Baltimore drivers share some of the same roads, it makes for a dangerous concoction.  It's like trying to swim in a small pool with two of the worst swimmers in the world. They're going to thrash around and put everyone else at risk or at a minimum be a complete goddamn nuisance.  It should also be noted that though the DC area prides itself on its education systems and intellectual denizens, these same denizens scored the lowest in the country on the 2011 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test with one in three drivers failing the test.  That's right, one in three DC drivers don't know what the hell they're doing behind the wheel.

Now that we've covered just how bad the drivers in DC are, let's get into how bad the traffic is.  It can best be described with one word, abysmal.  According to a study done by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Washington, DC has the worst commute in the country.  Now of course many LA drivers won't believe this because they believe all trends, including traffic, originated in California and New Yorkers won't believe it because they're stuck on believing that everything is bigger in NYC and that it's #1 in everything.  However the numbers are against our larger city friends, with DC drivers having an average of 67 hours annually in delay as opposed to 61 hours in LA and 59 hours in New York.  These numbers are probably due to the ill planned roads, speed limits so low they're designed for the cast of the Golden Girls (is Betty White the only one still living?) and the terrible drivers that lack the ability to drive under any adverse weather conditions.

Now I've compiled a list of terrible driving practices that are common in the DC area and what can be done about them.

1. Driving slow in the left lane.  If you want to drive at geriatric speeds, get your slow ass over to the right lane.  There is no reason the left lane should be moving at the same speed as the person to their right.  It's not meant for five under. As a matter of fact neither is the right lane since the posted speed limit is safe and LEGAL for you to travel at, so there is no reason to be below it if your car is functioning properly or there isn't a real weather hazard. GET YOUR ASSES MOVING.

2. Slowing down to merge.  It is absolutely possible to merge lanes without dropping 15mph.  It may seem like a daunting task but your car easily moves to the side while going at the same speed. Try it sometime.

3. Pulling out in front of traffic and going at a much slower speed.  It doesn't take a physicist to understand that if you pull out in front of someone going 55mph and you go 35mph they're either going to put their engine in your backseat or have to slam on their brakes.  Since you don't seem to be in much of a hurry anyway, how about just wait for them to pass then pull out.

4. Stopping on an on-ramp instead of just yielding.  Ok, so you've got a degree from Georgetown. That's great, now learn the definition of yield, dipshit.  If you need to get up to speed with the traffic on the highway, coming to a complete damn stop isn't your best option.

5. Cutting across three lanes to get to your next turn.  This one comes in two forms.  While traveling and while at a stop.  The "while traveling" can happen when some idiot realizes his exit to the right is about four car lengths away and he is been driving along in the left lane, probably 5mph below the limit, and he decides he needs to make that turn now and zips in front of three other cars.  Since he didn't check his blind-spots during this sweet maneuver, he either gets smashed by someone two lanes over or he causes them to break hard.  Sometimes these people try this while pulling out of a parking lot.  The other way this happens is from a stop.  An idiot in the left lane realizes "Oh I actually wanted to turn right at this stop" so he just cuts in front of everybody to make the right turn.  Often times he gets in the way of the intersection and traffic or just causes a complete nuisance for the guy who's turning right from the actual right-turn lane. Way to go, asshole! Next time pay attention to where you need to turn or take the next exit.

6. Hazards on during snow. This strange phenomenon where most of the people in the area can't drive with a drip of precipitation on the roads only gets worse when half of them put their hazards on.  It makes for a sea of flashing lights.  An epileptic's nightmare.  Oh you're experiencing snow? No shit, we all are! Now turn your stupid hazards off and just drive with caution.

7. Hazards on while on the cellphone.  I've seen this one a number of times and at first I thought maybe the people were calling AAA, which would make sense and be a totally acceptable behavior.  Then I'll notice them put the phone down, turn hazards off and drive at a normal speed.  Hazard lights aren't there for you to say "Time out from normal driving. I'm on the phone".  Put the phone down if you can't multitask and call after you reach your destination.  On the phone with a loved one?  Drive at a normal speed and you'll get to see them that much sooner.

8. Hazards on and parked in a fire lane.  Another hazards abuse? Seriously?  I've been all over the country and the DC area is the only one where people have an issue with parking in the actual parking spots of a lot.  Instead these lazy assholes pull up to the store in the fire lane, throw the hazards on and run inside.  The sign clearly says "No Parking Fire Lane" not "No Parking, Unless You're in a Hurry."  These idiots end up congesting the traffic going past the store.  You can easily pull your car the two feet away to the designated parking spots.  It's not far and that's what it's there for.  Those big yellow or white grids painted on the ground with conveniently sized sections are for your car, it's not from some graffiti artist with an obsession for grids tagging every parking lot in America.  Park your damn car in the right spot, asshole.

9. Slowing to below the speed limit when you see a cop.  Ever get pulled over and have the cop ask you "Why were you going the speed limit?" Me neither.  So why the F are you slowing down to below the limit when you see a cop?  You won't get pulled over for going 45mph in a 45mph zone.  That's like being afraid a cop is going to get you for shoplifting after he watches you purchase an item. Wouldn't make sense now would it?  The same goes for the speed limit but for some reason every waste of oxygen that sees a police car slams on his brakes and goes below the limit.  This especially goes for people slowing down when they see a cop on the other side of the highway.  You have multiple lanes of traffic and a concrete barrier between you and the cop so you're going to slam on your brakes?  Is he a goddamn Decepticon? Is his car going to sprout legs and leap over the concrete barrier to get to you?  No?  Then stop slamming on your brakes, genius.

10. Cyclists.  While I commend people for wanting to be healthy or green, I don't commend the way many of them take the amount of space that they do.  You're literally on the thinnest vehicle around yet you are all over the road half the time.  Most of the cyclists I've seen are rather skinny people so why do they insist on taking up room like they have the lats of a damn gorilla?  Stay on the edge of the road or in those designated bike lanes that the yuppy areas have built into their roads.  You're on a bike, don't act like you're in a monster truck.


  1. Frikking awesome!!! As a fellow DC resident I can attest these all happen on a daily basis. I love when I hear ppl from other cities say, oh my city has traffic too. Ummm, no. It doesn't.

  2. Remember the snowstorm of January 2011? It took me ten fucking hours to get home from work, 9.5 of which was just getting to the toll road -- which SHOULD have taken no more than 9.5 minutes. The problem wasn't the snow; it was the fucking drivers. People abandoning their cars in the middle of the road, piling up into the fucking intersections because they didn't want to wait their turn... if ever there were a time for a comet to have hit and put an end to NOVA while turning the rest of the world into zombies, THAT night was it.

  3. I agree with everything except for the comment about cyclists. They are generally required in DC to take up a full lane of traffic, and it is (usually) illegal for them to slip between lanes. Additionally, bikers will almost always stay in the bike lane unless they have good reason to leave, such as taking a left turn. While there is definitely a problem with cyclists ignoring traffic controls (especially 4-way stops), they are legally required to *not* "stay on the edge of a road."