Driving, for instance.
Passivity and ineptitude behind the wheel have been almost deified as the apotheosis of “defensive” and “safe” driving. Not surprisingly, passive and inept driving is now the rule rather than the exception. One can never – apparently – be too “safe.”
Hence, football field following distances.
If three car lengths is is good, six car lengths must be even better. “Safer.”
There’s the Clover ahead of you doing 39 in a 45 . . . and the Clover 50 yards ahead of him, doing about the same. Pass the first, get stuck behind the second. If you’re that lucky. Often, the first Clover will close the gap if he sees you’re about to attempt a pass. Clovers stick together like cow pies to your boots.
Unlike prior generations of Americans raised prior to the rise of the Safety Cult, they reverence slow-motion driving as the sine qua non of “safe” driving.
Observe the languid habits of Cloverensus Americanus. If two of them are driving abreast, one in the left lane, the other in the right – and you’re coming up on them from behind – the car in the left lane will do one of two things:
Or: He’ll first turn on his signal. Leave it on for awhile. Ever so gradually, he’ll increase his speed. Eventually – painfully – he’ll ease his car over into the right lane, allowing you to pass. Almost never in this land of the addled will you ever find a driver as in the example above who anticipates you overtaking him, increases his speed to get by the driver to his right and then quickly moves his car into the right lane before you overtake him.
That’s considered “unsafe” – while you are considered “aggressive” for not operating at a Cloveritic pace.
As an aside: It’s interesting that Clovers – who always seem to be very concerned about gas mileage, dependence upon “foreign oil,” etc. – never take into consideration how much gas is wasted as a result of their blocking maneuvers. If traffic flowed freely – which is another way of saying expeditiously – less gas would be wasted. Decelerating – having to brake for Clover – wastes probably more gas than “speeding” does. If Clovers were truly interested in fuel efficiency, they’d appreciate driving efficiently. Continuous, fluid motion. Minimizing needless slowing/stopping cycles.
But of course, they do not value efficient driving. They venerate slow driving. And the slower, the better.
The rolling stop is to Clover what garlic is to Dracula. Even if there is no reason to come to a complete stop – other than it being “the law” – Clover will always come to a complete stop.
And then, sit.
Eventually, having satisfied himself that the way is clear - which, for Clover, means no oncoming traffic within at least a quarter-mile or so – he will proceed.
Brisk acceleration – rapid movement of any kind – is anathema to Clover. He’s been taught – conditioned – to equate decisive movement with “dangerous” driving. Notwithstanding that his slow-motion merging technique often results in near-impacts – of which he’s blithely unaware, since he never consults his rearview. Besides, the traffic forced to brake/swerve in order to avoid accordionizing Clover was “speeding.”
Speaking of rules – Clover loves ‘em. Obeys them with a devotion that’s nearly sexual. And acts like a spurned lover when someone else does not obey them.
You are driving along and come across a sign that reads, “road work ahead.” Except you see no work ahead. Just the sign. It’s clear nothing’s happening that would justify slowing to a crawl – so you don’t. But Clover does. Because there’s a sign. Even if the sign was just left there by the road crew – or they obviously are taking today off. It does not matter that there are no workers working. The sign – and its mighty injunction – must be obyed.
Cyclists also flummox Clover. He requires at least 10 yards of sideways separation before he will attempt to pass. He considers this “safe” – notwithstanding he’s placed most of his car across the double yellow and into the path of oncoming traffic. Either that – or he’ll maintain the football field following distance. Matching the cyclist’s 15 MPH pace. If you become exasperated and pass the Clover, the result will be an angry outpouring of horn honking and high beams flashing.
The bottom line is – bad driving’s getting worse. And it’s becoming more ubiquitous. The rising generation of Americans has been marinated in Cloverism from birth through safety-seated/helmet-wearing/buckled-up-for-safety adulthood. The older generation of Americans that grew up learning how to exercise initiative (and which was was rewarded for exercising it), that was active rather than passive and took pride in knowing how to handle a car as opposed to following the rules . . . is passing from the scene, overwhelmed like the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae.
The Google Car is the future.
Cue Rush – and Red Barchetta.
Throw it in the Woods?