A lot of new traffic light cameras are going into service in Orlando soon. It’s not a good thing; not because they won’t provide millions in REVENUE,…they will, but the reason should be for safety….red light running is rife in the City Beautiful. Every morning one can hear of the accidents at all the usual places, primarily because those idiots are trying to stretch the spectrum from yellow to just-before–RED ! With opposing left-turn traffic, that’s not a great idea!
I grew up in Boston which is known for erratic and crazy driving. There is a major difference between those in the Northeast and those in Orlando. The Orlando drivers are also reckless, self-centered, speed-oriented and unwilling to give an inch, however they lack talent and driving skills. They are just BAD drivers.
In a world of high gas prices and lots of hyperbole about being green, one would think that jack-rabbit starts and stops,and speeding into red lights would become less frequent…given that much fuel is wasted with those practices. Doesn’t matter here! Since I got my license to drive in 1949 I have always tried to save gas by letting up on the gas pedal when sighting a distant red light, or yellow-turning-red. Cruising up to the car ahead with just a modicum of forward momentum can save a tablespoon of petrol, and even extend the life of the drive train of any vehicle. It simply won’t work in Orlando. The reason is ridiculously simple…the drivers here don’t look ahead to the condition of the lights ahead. And if they detect slowing or stopped cars upstream, they jockey to be in the shortest lane….no matter which one has the fewest cars…even to gain ONE DAMN SPACE! It is stupid and maddening! I am in the right-hand lane, generally, where I belong…watching all the action up ahead, and sensing the changing colors of the traffic lights and the relative speed and location of all the vehicles around me. As a light goes to yellow and red upstream, I slow to a cruise, so as to accelerate on the green. BUT WHOOPS…the guy speeding in sees the empty space ahead of me and takes immediate claim to gain a space. I end up braking for this freak of nature (not so freakish in this city, unfortunately), and my gas bill goes up commensurately.
One could play the game, as many here do, of speeding up slightly to prevent this hopscotching activity, and disallowing the creep his favored lane. But that is one more cause for the frayed nerves and some fender-benders.
And human nature (in-human?) dictates that if you need to change lanes or merge into traffic, the oncoming freak will speed-up to disabuse your notion. If you SUCCEED in getting into the traffic ahead of him or her, that jerk will STREAK AROUND YOU, and glowering as if you ruined the day, will pull into your lane just ahead of you to prove, once-and -for-all, that HE REIGNS SUPREME on these friggin’ roads!
So why aren’t these cameras a good thing… because they are NOT traffic officers, and cannot testify in court that you broke the law. You MAY have broken the law…but maybe you didn’t!
I was ticketed in Delaware last year when my RV ticked-off a camera at an intersection on US 13. The resulting color pictures clearly showed my wheels over the line on RED. What was not so clear was the truck approaching and entering the intersection from the right with a load of PortaPotties, and I had no idea if he was going to proceed straight into the intersection, or turn right…but he wasn’t stopping! Instead of proceeding easily and safely through the yellow light, I was forced to BRAKE through the space, and over the line after RED. The official who reviewed the tape agreed with me that a shade of grey existed, and that I could successfully challenge the ruling. BUT….. I’d have to go 1,000 miles to Delaware for the ensuing court date…or pay $125. to avoid doing so. This is wrong. No camera can determine shades of grey; safety officers can do that. I oppose those new cameras on the pretext that there is no actual witness to what happens, and Big Brother should find other sources of revenue. In Orlando, where the State Police hide and wait for the slightest infractions to fatten the coffers (this is a proven published fact), more so than in most other areas, they’ll work less hard, as the friendly lenses vicariously capture the action. Police would be the cause of slower driving and better driving in accordance with the existing traffic laws if the were MORE VISIBLE, moving WITH the flow, and not ALWAYS in the LEFT LANE, exceeding the limit as if they were above the law.
Cameras don’t show this behavior, but you and I know it happens. Who writes those tickets?
U S Airways took me to Charleston last week; I went to pick up my car that was in storage in Port Royal (Beaufort). First of all, Manchester airport is so laid back and easy to take, compared to Logan in Boston. I had to change planes in Philadelphia, and having left New Hampshire at 7:10 AM, I was in South Carolina before noon.
The problem is in getting to Beaufort from Charleston. The Greyhound travels to Savannah, GA, and gets within 16 miles of Beaufort…..Southbound. Northbound, it MAKES THE STOP IN BEAUFORT! But I was going South, so my bus ride by-passed my destinatiion, and stopped in Savannah, where after about two hours I boarded the Northbound ‘dog’ for the 40 mile back-track to S. Carolina…..over 5 hours in transit.
Five hours to go 1,000 miles, then five hours to go 110 plus 45 reverse miles.
I don’t understand the bus route at all, but it was comfortable enough with the new seats they have installed.
I decided to eshew my favorite route North, on the beautiful Coastal Highway (US 17).
I wanted to leave the heat and humidity of the low country and make some distance, so I went West ansd picked up I 95. I set the cruise-control on the Saturn for 62 MPH, and stopped at Gold Rock (Battleboro) North Carolina for the night. There are reasonable choices of accomodations with low rates there. After breakfast at Hardee’s, I crossed the Virginia line and headed for Washington. My reason for travelling this route, which I NEVER travel in the RV, was that I wanted to scope-out I 81. I used to by-pass the metropolitan New York, New Jersey,Pennsylvania and Delaware areas by crossing the Hudson on I 84, continuing to Scranton, picking up I 81 through Wilkes-Barre to Harrisburg, and then any number of routes, depending on my destination in the South.
Friday afternoon, approaching DC at about 2 PM…….not good! I holed-up at a MacDonald’s near Quantico, and read my book for four hours!! When I left the highway I could see nothing but red taillights for miles up the road. When I ventured back onto 95, the traffic was completely stopped in the other direction, but was not bad heading toward the Beltway. I didn’t encounter any problems all the way to Hagerstown, MD. I had forgotten about the humungous hill approaching the city. My RV will not do that!
In the morning I hit I 81, and headed North again. It is a good route, as I remembered it, but up and down the mountain roads… I think my mileage would really suffer badly. What nixed me on using this route to avoid Megalopolis was the tremendous hill approaching Port Jervis, NJ, at Matamoros. I went up up up up up up, and at the top was an elevation sign indicating 1,250 feet above the Hudson! My RV doesn’t want to move semi-VERTICALLY for a quarter-mile, just to avoid some city traffic and a higher bridge toll.
I’ll have to bite the bullet and use the urban roads. But I discovered how much easier that can be if you do it AFTER MIDNIGHT! Postscript for this post: I get 12 miles per gallon in the Dodge RV. My Saturn averages 43 MPG, and on the hilliest part of this journey, I got FIFTY-ONE POINT SIX…..a personal best. It is 15 years old. Hybrids, eat my dust!