Region’s traffic enough to drive you crazy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

All I could think about Wednesday morning was how much I need a helicopter. Why in the world, you ask? Three words: Hampton Roads traffic. And not just Hampton Roads traffic, but the people behind the wheels of the cars that make up our area parking lots known as Interstates 64, 264 and Highway 58.

I just need a little space here to get a few years of driving frustration off my chest. All of my irritations about driving came to a head yesterday morning as it took me more than two hours and a half just to drive from Suffolk to the Pembroke area of Virginia Beach due to an unbelievable number of accidents, the majority of which I believe were avoidable. At one point, the radio announcers just gave up and said there were too many traffic mishaps to report. I just sat in traffic envisioning what my helicopter ride would be like, and surmised that I could have been outside D.C. or in Raleigh, N.C. in this extended length of time.


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It just amazes me time and time again that all it takes is the least bit of rain – and God forbid if we get any slight dusting of snow, sleet, ice, etc. (as on Wednesday) – for drivers to shift gears into the idiot mode. They’re zippin’ and zappin’ in and out of traffic, while driving at excessively high speeds endangering the lives of everyone around them.

We keep asking why are so many accidents happening on the Route 58. What’s the big mystery? The only phrase that keeps coming in my mind is &uot;pure idiots.&uot; I must have said it a thousand times Wednesday as I was stuck on 64 trying to get beyond Bowers Hill. Then I thought I would detour onto Military Highway and it was just as bad.

To make matters worse, I just saw my whole 32 years of life go up in flames as this 18-wheeler carrying a flammable liquid got very acquainted with my car by using the right shoulder to create his very own third lane for quicker access to the 64 on-ramp. All I could see was the metal belly of the thing hovering and appearing to nearly touch my car. I just prayed for it to move on very quickly, and breathed a sigh of relief as this monster went on about its way.

Pure idiot.

While I’m on the subject, what’s the deal with riding the shoulders? How come the cops never catch these people? Don’t get me wrong, our area police do a fine job beyond the call of duty. But I just always ask the question whenever someone runs a red light or does something else really stupid: where are the police?

Maybe I was sleep when they passed a law authorizing motorists to turn the shoulder of the road into an escape route when traffic is stagnated. The first time I saw this done was a few years ago while driving to D.C. It just blew my mind to see the motorist drive a great distance using the shoulder, without any predictability as to what could have been waiting ahead. Traffic had to be moving at about 75 mph when I saw this – but not fast enough for this guy.

Now, don’t get the impression that I’m the perfect driver who’s never tried to find a creative way to get around traffic.

It was about three years ago, I was again traveling 64, or should I say stuck in the parking mode, when I decided that it made good sense to use the HOV lanes to help the environment.

As it is, these idling cars across the region have done much to cater to our often poor pollution level standings with the EPA. But back to my story, I was promptly pulled over and ticketed by a trooper who said I had no business using the HOV lane without someone else in the car with me. I countered that I thought it was okay considering that traffic was so sparse on the HOV lanes and all the other lanes were clogged. It didn’t sell and Virginia Beach got $80 of my hard-earned money.

(By the way, I do not support HOV lanes. I think they are a waste and a big part of the traffic problem we have in Hampton Roads – but that’s another column.)

But the shoulder riding has seemingly surfaced in Hampton Roads in full force. Just a few weeks ago, riding home on 58 west after a fatal accident while traffic crawled, I actually saw a car ride the shoulder from near the SPSA landfill entrance at least as far as the downtown Suffolk exit.

Pure idiot. At least I used a bona fide lane.

But my strongest gripe is all the ridiculous driving tactics during bad weather, or good weather for that matter. And please stop driving with no headlights on at night. I’ve just come to realize in recent months that people are actually doing this on purpose. That deserves a capital &uot;PURE IDIOT.&uot;

And just because you’re in an SUV, that does not mean you automatically have a better handle on the road at any time, particular when it’s blatantly covered with ice and you insist on driving very ferociously, again jeopardizing the lives of others. No, I’m not a member of the anti-SUV coalition. I happen to be a big SUV fan.

I recognize that part of the problem with Wednesday’s back-up was that some bridges/high rises were closed because of ice formation, but the real issue at hand is how you drive on the ice.

You just can’t trust drivers in this region to drive with more care during inclement weather. The excessive accidents are evidence enough.

Just please do my family and others alike a favor and stay off the road the next time there’s any hint of rain, snow or sleet – which is actually today. And if you can’t follow the rules of the road, perhaps you shouldn’t be driving at all.

Luefras Robinson is a staff writer for the News-Herald.