Before I start talking about how terrible drivers are right now, I want to share with you what has given me the perspective to be knowledgable on these things. I used to live to drive fast. It didn’t take much for me to race someone. Someone vibed me or revved at me? I’m smoking him. There’s a girl walking a dog on the street, I’m chirping second. It didn’t matter. I was down for all of it. 

    I especially loved the drives home from gigs in the summer. I would often get a couple of highway pulls against people on the way home, then drop off my saxophone, and head out to try to find more people to hang with and race. In the late 90’s/early 2000’s you would find people. 

    Nowadays, I don’t see it as much. In terms of the racing aspect of it, the Fast and Furious movies ruined it for all of us. The culture blew up in popularity, and too many idiots got involved. All of a sudden there were more cops and the fines got a lot stiffer. 

      Back then, I spent more time (and money as well) in my rx7 than I did at home. I loved everything about the culture, until it just got too expensive and risky. I used to drive no less than 75 on the highway at all times. Then I lost my license for the 4th time. I took that damn re education class yet again, took my rx7 off the road, and started my path to being a more normal everyday driver. 


     Years later, I don’t feel the need to excessively speed. To the contrary, i’m much more content to chill in there right (or middle) lane and watch the world fly by.  For this reason, I don’t fear troopers like I used to. I more so fear animals crossing rods and highways, overcrowding of once rural areas…which are often not able to handle the extra people and resulting traffic, maybe the worst of all…distracted drivers.

The suburbs of Boston have been straight up ravaged by developers. This has resulted in much of the green spaces being leveled. This reduction in our wildlife’s natural habitat has caused them to start living much closer to humanity. For example, I was in a Burger King drive through on the way to a gig, and there was maybe a 15 foot sliver of dense woodland in between the next business. As I’m I’m sitting in line,  a fox pokes his head out, bolts out of the brush, only to re entreat 10 feet down. You would almost never see a Fox years ago. Now, they’re searching for any little bit of foliage they can get, living under people’s houses etc.  Sad really. So when I’m on the highway, I’m hyper aware of my peripherals. Animals cross highways incredibly frequently now.

Then, with the development, comes more people. As a result, the roads are now very crowded. There’s just not open road like there used to be. Even at 2am there are people out, and if you get open road, it’s only for a short time before you come up on another traveler.

With more drivers, comes more road wear. You have to keep your eyes open all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve slacked for a second only to hit a pot hole that I would’ve avoided had I not taken my eyes off the road for a split second.  Many roads have bad spots now. Bridges are bumpy, uneven, and in need of repair. Now, if I’m going to open it up, I know exactly where I am, what the road is like, and it’s usually not at night. I personally find the risk too high.

Lastly, the invention of the smart phone has created stupid drivers. Maybe stupid is strong, but definitely clueless and unaware of the possible ramifications of taking their eyes off the road for seconds at a time. I work in conjunction with body shops during the day. I cannot tell you just how many of the repairs that come in are people that were rear ended by someone on their phone. The percentage is astronomical. There other high percentage of repairs coming in are from deer, which sometimes into people’s car’s from the side. You would think people hit them more often as they cross the road but it’s quite often from the side. I figure they must get set off by a predator and just blindly run away on adrenaline.

All of these things have led me to the simple question: How fast is fast enough? 


    It depends on where you are. If you’re on a track, the over simplified answer is there’s no limit. I say over simplified because a driver being too fast in a certain sector of a track can actually throw them off rhythm in later stages of the track, thus giving them a slower overall time. Instructors will tell you that you can be “fast in the wrong spots”. Trust me, I’ve had it said to me. 


     If you’re on a road, the answer is much simpler. There’s a definite cap of what level of speed is actually productive. I’m not telling you to do this, but if you were to set your gps for a destination, and then speed to try to beat the time, you’d be very surprised at how difficult it is to shave time off. You’d also see any gains you achieved go right away the minute you hit a slowdown or stop. It really is not worth it to drive 70-85 on the highway to make up time, even though it feels good.

      See, the higher the speed limit is, the more difficult it is to shave time. So if you’re traveling on the highway, the ability to shave time off is greatly reduced. Why is this? It’s because to gain any real time you have to basically come close to doubling the speed limit. Why do you think highway patrol (or Staties as masshoiles affectionately call them) seemingly come out of nowhere? It’s because the only way they actually catch up to highway speeders is to go ridiculously fast. 

       If you’ve ever been booting in the left lane at 75/80 mph, passing the plebs on the way to your destination, only to look in your rearview mirror and see a cop RIGHT on your ass that wasn’t there a minute ago, you know what I mean. It’s because that trooper hit 100-120mph to gain ground…especially if they saw your ass blissfully fly by them while they were hidden or in the middle of something.

   Life is fast these days. Too fast really. It’s intensified with the always connected/accessible vibe that technology infected us with. I’ve been unplugging more and more. I’ve even started thinking that we should go back to not having most things open on Sundays..a mandatory slow down of sorts. 

      The overcrowding and over development of once quaint suburbs has also greatly played into the process of speeding up and heightening of aggression of people. Many animals don’t do well when their natural boundaries are infringed on. Some, like wolves and big cats even go so far as to fight each other when there are territory infringements. People are no different. There’s a reason that when you cross the border into less crowded states that the driving gets better, and people are nicer. There is an underlying weight of stress that comes with overcrowding that many people just don’t even know they carry. 

      The vibe between city and suburban people has always been different. You can even see it in the people that leave the city and move into the suburbs. They bring that crap with them. They’re the people that avert their eyes and don’t say hello when you pass them on the sidewalk or walking path. Honestly. I usually bust their balls and say hell o to them even though they’re hell bent on ignoring me. 

    So what the heck do all the previously mentioned things have to do with driving? A lot. So much of bad driving is centered around mental issues. If you’ve ever taken the driver re-education class, you know what I mean. The day long course focuses on WHY you make the diversions you make behind the wheel…ego, impatience, distraction etc. I know this, because I’ve had the pleasure of taking that class 4 times. 

     All this mental baggage that we all (sometimes unknowingly) carry today adds up to terrible decision making the roads. It manifests itself in the default reaction for people on the road to be aggression. Some examples of aggressive terrible behavior:

      1. The “Dominic Toretto” –  In the final scene of the first Fast and Furious Dom (Vin Diesel) finds himself at a stop light with Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker). He looks over at Brian and says “That railroad crossing up there is exactly a quarter mile from here. On green, I’m going for it”.  This scene is reenacted time and time again by people. Kids and parents all display this incessant need to be first,…for no good reason. You’re not making any money (or snagging someone’s pink slip) by hammering your Nissan Rogue off the line to get in front of someone, Sorry.


     2. The “I matter more than all of you merge” – This is the wonderful act of when two lanes merge, someone coming from well behind you, not yielding when it’s SUPER obvious that the path of least resistance is to just tuck in behind, only to bully their way in front of you (and sometimes others), where as you often have to brake and drive defensively. I hope you like your new position in traffic, because you just pissed off 4 different drivers. 

      This is the stuff that driver re-education focuses on. The mental side. Seriously, people that do this are with not paying attention, too dumb to read the situation, or just raging ego maniacs. This happens so often though. I used to work in Boston,  and someone did this and literally the only thing I could do not to have them hit me was to put two of my wheels on the sidewalk and stop. I got the plate, called the police, told them the story, told them that they probably drive this way every day as it was a poplar commuter road.

      Next day, sure enough, I see that car surrounded by 4 cruisers, and the dude face first in cuffs against the window. Guess the dude had a warrant. Speaks to this person fitting the mentally deficient profile as if you have a warrant, you should want to be blending in to the 5,000 other cars you’re on the road with, and not doing dumb things like this to get one car length ahead. It’s not often you see Karma work, but this was a shining example. 

     On ramps in rush hour traffic are another place that people display idiotic decision, pissing off multiple drivers in the effort of getting one or two cars ahead. Merging is not that difficult people. 

  3. The “20 mph over the limit isn’t fast enough for me – There are times when the roadway is crowded, there isn’t much space in between cars, but everyone os moving, with the left lane moving 10-20mph over the posted limit. You would think this is fast enough for people. Nope. There seems to always be people that (even though drivers ahead of them are going 75-80) need to feel like they’re moving faster than everyone. This is quite often the sign of a bad driver. 

    While good drivers speed in certain circumstances, they don’t do it on crowds roads because they know the ultimate truth that it’s a hell of s lot easier to get a car up to that speed than it is to slow it down in a hurry, and or turn it in a hurry at speed. On crowded highways when people are moving, there are still often sudden slow downs or stops. You also can’t predict the person that doesn’t see you coming up on them at 20/30 mph over and is just switching lanes for whatever reason. All of these situations happen often. 

   In fact, just today I was going to Best Buy to get a TV for my mother…ironically they changed their hours to open later, which has me questioning my noble let’s have most of America not not work on Sundays philosophy….but I digress.  Rte. 3 North was exactly as I described above.e It’s a two lane road, crowded with traffic, but we’re all moving along. I saw one women in an old Grand Marquis driving very erratically. She at one point got behind me and got so close she was drafting me Nascar style. 

       That is SO STUPID in general at highway speeds, but in these traffic conditions, it’s next level moronic. You just don’t know what’s going to happen, and you’ve given you and the driver(s) in front of you no time/ability to get out of a wreck. She eventually got so frustrated that she drove illegally in the breakdown lane at about 90mph. 

      I figured with her that she had an emergency or something going on, but still, man not smart. I know that car too, those brakes suck. There were other people on the road doing the similar things as well, to the extent that I found myself thinking “there’s going to be an accident today”. Sure enough, on my way back down Rte 3, 20 minutes later, the North bound side was plugged. There was a major accident. 

  People don’t realize how hard it is to control a car when something unexpected happens. Cars feel a hell of a lot bigger when they’re out of sorts. We all learned this lesson as young enthusiasts. You just hoped that you were not in too terrible of a situation and that you were intuitive enough to get yourselves out of it. 

   We were all driving sports cars. Cars meant to handle some speed. People today don’t even realize how fast they’re going. Cars make it super easy for them. They handle better in normal driving conditions, and they carry speed easier. They have higher top speeds. Add to the fact that cars now have all these driver aids which in reality make people worse drivers by enabling terrible behavior..and you can have problems. 

    In the 80’s, cars were much slower and didn’t handle well enough to inspire over confidence at higher speeds. Tp put it in perspective, I’ll use a car that’s stood the test of time. Toyota. Both the Corolla and Camry were around in there 80’s and are still made today. 

1980 Corolla:- 0-60 in 14.5 seconds. 1/4 mile in 20 seconds. 

2020 Corolla – 0-60 in 8.1 seconds.   1/4 mile in 16.3 seconds

1987 Camry – 0-60 in 9.2 seconds. 1/4 mile in 17 seconds

2020 Camry – 0-60 in 7.3 seconds. 1/4 mile in 15.7 seconds 

     Some are going to say that’s not much of a difference, but as a average driver, a couple of seconds is a huge difference in feel. What’s also hard to notate is the greater ease with which cars these days carry speeds 70-100 mph. It’s so much easier in new cars.. Even my 1999 Mustang didn’t really like speeds higher than 70. It was grumpy, loud, heavy, had terrible brakes, and the motor just didn’t like it. A Mustang now? Even the V6 gets up there in a less eventful way. It’s just technology. 

    I’m usually chilling in the right/middle lane, but on days when traffic is going 75+, I still see people with this irrational need to go faster than that. Just because your car can do it, doesn’t mean you have to, but all the stress of today’s fast life, the lack of open space (on the road and otherwise) for people in general from overcrowding, and just life stress in general have people always wanting to go faster. 

 We need to be better. If you’re driving like this, you have a chance of one day being the reason why traffic is backed up. Smarten up. Control your ego. Think of everyone else for a change. Pick your spots to speed if you must. 






Published On: June 13th, 2023 / Categories: Uncategorized /