Friday, February 16, 2007

D.C. Drivers, get a grip

I have several gripes against the ethos of Washington D.C. and the rest of the "inside the beltway" territory, and underlying a lot of them is the prevailing Type A attitude of the people who live here. The Type A attitude is on display all the time: when commuters sprint to catch their Metro train during rush hour even though another one is two minutes behind it (running into fellow commuters in the process), when subway riders won't move to the center of the train car to make room for those behind them because they want to be close to the door, when people regard social functions as nothing more than an opportunity to "network," and worst and most fatally of all, when drivers disregard pedestrians merely because they are in a hurry.

I don't know if the bus driver who struck and killed two women who had the right of way at the intersection of 7th and Pennsylvania on Wednesday night was in a hurry, but the driving in this city is so abominable, so aggressive, so careless of pedestrians, so selfish, that this tragedy is not as surprising as it should be. Even today, two days later, as I crossed that same intersection, cars were still racing down Pennsylvania to make the light, broaching the tenuous transition between the yellow and red bulb with reckless nonchalance. Why drivers here are so wound-up is beyond me, because I think they would be happier people if they weren't, but D.C. police need to crack down on the insanity of offensive driving.


Chris said...

I ride the Orange line to Ballston every morning. And it amazes me how everyone gets up and rushes the door before the train's even reached the stop before Ballston.

Drivers around here are crazy. Just the other day I was crossing R St. on Wisconsin and car sped to make a left turn and missed me by about a foot. It's good that I don't carry heavy things in my messenger bag, because I'm tempted at least thrice a day to bang something on a hood or grill of a crazy driver's car.

Another phenomenon I've recently discovered around here is how when someone randomly on the street asks you to do something (like use your cell phone) and you decline for whatever reason, the immediate response from that random person tends to be "F-cker!!" With a response like that, though, I'm always happy didn't do what they asked anyway.

Elaine said...

Agh, I hear you! The two worst things I've experienced are:
-crossing at 7th and Pennsylvania when I had the right of way, almost getting run over, only to have the offending driver motion angrily at ME
-witnessing a woman miss the train at the Archives station, as people sometimes do, and reacting to this by yelling "asshole" at the conductor as the train pulled away

Anonymous said...

My father, who had an accumulation of traffic tickets, used to say that if the police spent more time chasing criminals and less time harassing drivers, crime would be solved. I tend to think the opposite, especially after hearing recently that the #1 cause of death in the U.S. is car accidents. Of course, it need not be a trade-off, but higher priority for enforcement of traffic infractions would have great benefits. Very sad about the D. C. pedestrians. Be careful, everyone! (And a comment to Chris: I think you're absolutely right to refuse random requests from strangers to use your phone or whatever.)

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