Just say ‘yes’ to speed

Adam Milasincic

Volkswagen’s slogan misses a central fact of life in our post-industrial Midwest wasteland.

On the road of life, there are passengers, and there are drivers. There also are people from Ohio – people for whom the laws of time, space and common courtesy do not apply.

The litany of sins is long, and Ohio motorists are sinners in the hands of an angry traffic god. I’ve been told that I’m among the best drivers on the road today. Never mind that the person telling me is myself.

Offense No. 1 centers on the evidently hard-to-comprehend notion of “passing lanes.” The lanes are intended for passing other drivers, not time. On I-76, it seems all drivers are drawn by an invisible magnet into the far left lane, where they interpret speed limit signs to read, “Go 10 mph slower than the number posted.”

Worse still, drivers feel justified by this behavior. A common defense is Ohio’s inordinate number of traffic-snaring left-side exit ramps. “I have a good reason to be in the passing lane,” indignant motorists signal with sideward glares at the fortunate few who slip past them on the right.

The defense wears thin when drivers awaiting the I-77 south ramp to Canton hop into the left lane outside Youngstown.

Even truck drivers – who hail from normal states and make a living behind the wheel – adopt the Ohio custom. What do they care if 20 cars line up behind them while they putter along in the passing lane only to get a 1 mph jump on the double-length FedEx truck beside them?

A special brand of demon in Ohio takes the opposite approach. These folks occupy the right lane, and they are willing to reach triple-digit speeds – for the five seconds it takes them to block you from leaving the entrance ramp. After assuring their positions in front of you, these drivers resume their grandmotherly paces.

This idiocy is not hard to explain. The Ohio driver’s test is so obsessed with drinking and school buses that it leaves little room for much else. The state’s drivers might not understand how to operate an accelerator, but they know all about when to pass a stopped school bus on a four-lane highway. Hint: “After providing an audible signal” is incorrect, although that would be amusing. Beep, beep; watch out kids.

One test question asks, “If someone has consumed alcoholic drinks, what will help the person overcome the influence of those drinks?”

The options? A) Tomato juice and lime, B) Hot coffee, C) Fresh air, D) Time.

Since Ohio already is well-versed in the finer points of alcohol abuse, perhaps it’s time to create a more challenging question:

“If you are in the passing lane of a highway with a 65 mph speed limit and there are more than 80 cars visible in your rearview mirror, should you, A) Slow down, B) Flip off the driver behind you, C) Tomato juice and lime, or D) Hustle your time-wasting duff into the right lane?”

It’s called a gas pedal, Ohio. Learn how to use it.

Adam Milasincic is a senior journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].