Angry Monkeys Driving Turbo-Charged Bullets 15

I live in the Capital Hill section of northeast Washington DC.  The area is a pretty diverse mix for the most part, and we have tons of people from Maryland who come through here on their way to other parts of the city.

All kinds of people.  White people.  Black people.  Latino people.  Asian people.  All kinds of people.  All of them angry.  All them armed.  All of them dangerous.  They drive through our 25 MPH streets doing 35 or 40 MPH, often much faster than that if there is a green light up ahead that might turn red and keep them stopped for 45 seconds.

We had a little girl get killed by one of these maniacs who didn’t stop and was never caught.

I have nearly been hit more than a dozen times.  I have gotten into shouting matches with assholes who clearly don’t understand the relationship between cars and pedestrians.  They have actually cussed me out for almost hitting me, my wife and my dogs.  The guy cussed me out in a company van.  On a Monday morning around seven.  After running a stop sign and barely noticing us crossing the street in time to stop in the middle of the intersection.

Am I the only one who thinks that this country is more than a little crazy these days?

I have noticed this same anger in large metro areas around the country, though not in the smaller towns.   One takes their life in their hands when crossing a street in a big city, at least the ones I have been too recently.  I wonder if the trend is similar all over the country?  Are we all just a bunch of angry moneys driving our pathetic vehicles powered by a steadily dwindling resource that most of us won’t be able to afford some day in the near future?  Is that why we are pissed or is it something deeper?  Is it a failure of leadership?

I am pretty sure that if running a stop sign was punishable by a $500 dollar ticket for a first offense that people would become more respectful of our traffic rules.  If speeding was punishable in a similar fashion and then people actually got pulled over, the result would be the same.  No one is going to continue breaking rules when the punishment fits the crime.  These violations are dangerous to us all and need to be addressed as such.  My last parking ticket was twice as much as a speeding ticket for going 11 miles over the posted speed limit.  This is asinine from public policy perspective.  Which is more dangerous – Speeding or Parking?

I have really taken an effort to slow down and be more considerate of the posted speed limit and traffic laws, but what I don’t understand is why law enforcement won’t do anything about this.  It is a classic “broken-window” problem. Not being able to trust that the posted rules will be followed leads to a feeling of lawlessness.  Add cops to the streets who look like a bunch of special forces troops and it contributes to a sense of fear.  Let stupid people get away with stupid shit and pretty soon the crimes they are committing are no longer so stupid.

Is it neglect or deliberate?

Either way, local law enforcement has a lot to answer for with regards to keeping our streets safe, let alone addressing other crimes.  Forget protecting us from non-existent terrorists.  My chances of getting killed crossing the street are much higher than my chances of dying in a terrorist attack.

Am I the only one that thinks the people who are running things don’t want society to function properly else they would make it function properly?

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15 thoughts on “Angry Monkeys Driving Turbo-Charged Bullets

  • Donal

    It’s much the same here in Federal Hill.

    But it isn’t just cars. As I walk around a large city, I’ve noticed that (some) pedestrians are just as crazy as (some) drivers. I guess there’s a big status game going on. Some people will try to walk right through you like you aren’t there. Especially if they’re talking on a cell phone. Groups will take up the whole sidewalk, then spread out as the sidewalk widens.

    And (some) bicyclists around here dart in and out of traffic not wearing helmets or gloves.

    I think as the suburban lifestyle withers, (some) Americans are going to have a tough time squeezing their egos back into close quarters.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Great points about Americans of all stripes in urban centers. I know I had to try very hard to squeeze my ego down to size when driving in DC, but it really only took one near miss to drive it home.

      I wasn’t paying attention and barely missed a guy carrying his little girl across through the crosswalk. They were in my peripheral and didn’t exist. But for my wife’s shout, I would have hit them.

      Scared the living shit out of me and I have been quicker to ease of the gas ever since.

      • burnedoutdem

        I think what you just said answers your question –

        I don’t think it’s anger (or at least anger alone) that is driving this problem, but inattention stemming from our increasing ability to insulate ourselves from everyone else.

        Think of all the buffers we create around ourselves when out in public – radio, iPod, cell phones, companions, our own preoccupations with time and what we need to “do”. We’ve become so focused on *ourselves* and our own little portable worlds that we don’t see the other people around us until we hit (or almost hit) them. We need to be aware of the world around us when we are out in it. Multi-tasking on a street (whether in a car or on foot) is fifty-shades of dangerous, as you’ve pointed out.

        And can I just back up Donal buy pointing a finger at pedestrians, too? Why can’t people pay attention to the street signals? I appreciate that pedestrians get right of way, but those same pedestrians need to appreciate the fact that if I hit them while they’re crossing against the light or outside of a crosswalk, or dash out from between parked cars, they’re responsible for the damage they do to my car – at least in my town, where some college student pedestrians learned that the hard way (not only did they have to pay their own medical bills, but they were responsible for the damage done to the vehicle – I think the driver sued and won).

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Totally agree that pedestrians have a responsibility as well, but mostly around here it is drivers who don’t want to obey stop signs and treat pedestrians in crosswalks as competition.

          I also say a pedestrian crossing against traffic is a pain in the butt and potentially damaging to one’s car while speeding through residential neighborhoods can be deadly.

  • LisB

    My last parking ticket was twice as much as a speeding ticket for going 11 miles over the posted speed limit. This is asinine from public policy perspective. Which is more dangerous – Speeding or Parking?

    This is my favorite line in what is, overall, an excellent post. Thanks for writing it and sharing it.

    I tend to drive a little more carefully now that I have an Obama bumpersticker on my car. Someone else here at TPM mentioned that they do the same. Trying to set a good example, you know?

    • JasonEverettMiller

      I totally agree about setting a good example and have tried to do so myself. In the meantime, though, we have laws that the police can enforce to make that example a little widespread.

  • bluesplashy

    Jason, When I read your post I first thought of all the peds that I have seen look at the walk light signaling for them to wait, looked at me approaching the intersection with a green light for me and walked out in the street. I live in a college/tourist town and this makes me crazy. I mostly walk or ride my bike and when I do I am well aware of the other people and cars I share the road with. Another thing about this town is that many of the streets are so narrow that someone has to pull over if two cars meet that are traveling in the opposite direction. One of the things I have noticed is the bigger and more expensive cars tend to not pull over making me in my 86 nissan pickup get out of the way. Thank you for letting me vent. I think it is just general self centeredness. PS – I do love where I live in spite of the crap I just wrote!

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Totally agree and can’t explain the unnatural tendency of some pedestrians to play chicken with cars of whatever size. We get the same thing here. We are also mostly on foot around the neighborhood or taking the Metro, so that’s why it is so much more noticeable and makes it easy to see that it isn’t just isolated incidents.

  • Desidero

    Carry a bike pump or a short link of thick chain. Either one can smash through a windshield if you wield it hard enough. Though usually I just smack on the side of the car with my hand and they get the point. Of course then it might be nice to still have the bike pump or chain in your hand.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      That would be a satisfying way to see an expression on someone’s face that signals comprehension of their violations. Still, I am not that big of a guy and have always been a talker (or yeller) more than a fighter. I just hope I don’t run into someone with a bike pump or chain.

  • SPQR

    just registering my complaints along with yours this time.

    i know most people take an unwritten pass to speed around +5mph faster than whatever the posted limit is.

    and that’s fairly reasonable, when conditions are perfect: light traffic, good road quality, clear weather, few pedestrians.

    what i hate is when people start pushing this up to a +10mph or faster.

    conditions might sometimes permit safe speeding.

    but pedestrians (bicyclists, and other non-vehicled citizens) read the same street signs, and know damn well what speed to expect the traffic in their familiar neighborhoods to travel. and they have a reasonable expectation for motorists to respect stop signs, crosswalks, and yes, even posted speed limits.

    so, basically, excessive speeders are dangerous, and they suck.

    i also hate it when people don’t respect the limit lines on stop signs and crosswalks. they paint that white stripe on the road for a reason; it’s for you to stop before your tires cross it. my guess is that about one in five motorists actually respect these – but for crosswalks, the rule is a matter of life & death. and it’s one of those infractions that you never see anyone getting ticketed for.

    any of you commenters in law enforcement? care to add your thoughts?