WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?
A front-page story in our local paper quoted a very recent story in the
Washington Post newspaper regarding a just-completed survey pertaining
to the Washington D.C. area interstate highway system (includes
surrounding parts of Virginia/Maryland).
It indicates Washington D.C presently has the worst traffic-jams of any
major city in this country. That right, D.C. has traffic nightmares that at
present exceed the legendary traffic woes of New York City, Atlanta,
Los Angeles, and Denver.
While giving due mention to traffic problems on I-495 (the beltway around Washington), and a couple of interstate feeder-highways in Virginia
and Maryland, the article zeroed in on I-95, from its intersection with
I-495, to a point south near Fredericksburg, Va.
The story quoted median wait/lost time for the average driver using that
road each day-coming and going to work.
They quoted the cost of wasted gasoline for those stalled vehicles
and when totaled ran into millions of dollars. While it’s hard to put dollar figures on it, add up the time the drivers are stuck in
traffic jams, for say, 10-15-20 years. You could be talking about two years
of a person's life LOST-sitting stuck in that jam-looking at the dirty
bumper of the car in front of it-breathing air heavy with residue from
auto exhausts, denied time with their family, etc.
Let's look into the cost from another angle; the psychological cost to
In the 1980s into the 90s, I was the Claims Division Manager of a major
insurance company for any/all claims in Maryland, Delaware,
District of Columbia, and some of Northern Virginia. I am not exaggerating when I say that seldom a week passed that we didn't get med pay
claims from policyholders who were punched/assaulted by irate motorists
who felt our policyholder(s) 'cut them off' or 'cut in front of them' in a
line of traffic.
These physical attacks usually resulted in injuries that required medical
attention-and we, their auto insurance carrier, would be responsible for
paying their medical bills.
Oh yes, bills like that ARE covered by auto med pay insurance.
Drivers stuck in the daily traffic jams-both in the mornings and evenings-five days a week-relegated to literally inching along the road to/from work-causes resentment, anger, and hostility to build in them.
When someone cuts them off or ducks in front of them delaying their arrival even more-it pushes their anger to the breaking point.
Many times, the 'offended' driver gets out of their car-runs to the near-by
car of the 'offender', jerks open their door and punches them in the face-maybe even drags them out of the car and beat them.
If the 'offending driver' has their doors locked-denies the furious driver
from physically beating them, then 'angry driver' will often take a
tire iron, baseball bat, or any other handy object and beat the doors, fenders,hood and roof of the 'offending driver’s car to the tune of $5000
in repair costs.
Conversely, they may just break out the car window-reach inside the car-and give the 'offending driver' a punch in the face-while calling them every
foul name in the book (and some not in the book).
I once saw a claim involving a city bus driver in Washington D.C. and one ofour insured drivers. The bus driver-cut off, he claimed- got out of his bus,
marched up to our insured's car, climbed on the hood and jumped up
and down until it was totally destroyed-and after that marched
back to his bus.
The insured then got out of his car, walked back to give the bus driver a
beating. The bus driver shut the bus door, denying our insured the
satisfaction of giving him a 'horse whipping'. Our insured then used his
brute strength to pull apart the bus doors (3-4 inches), and that caused
the bus' brakes to come on-and stay on. Now the bus couldn't move-the
passengers couldn't get off-and our insured drove off-leaving the bus driver
to call the bus garage for emergency road service-and another bus to take
the passengers to their destinations.
Washington D.C has traffic situations like this day after day, after day.
It takes a mental toll on otherwise sane, civil, people.
Now turn the page of the newspaper and read the story of Amazon.com's
intention to build a brand-new east coast distribution center.
One of their qualifications for any prospective city wishing to have Amazon build their store is they must be a city of at least ONE MILLION people.
What is wrong with this picture?
Cities with populations of one million people like Washington D.C., Atlanta and New York already have:
(1) traffic problems
(2) overcrowded schools
(3) real estate prices so high you are left to wonder if people there measured
the cost of homes not in cost-per-square-foot, but in per-square-inch (for even modest homes on postage stamp lots).
What is Amazon going to say to the employees they want to move to their
new east coast operation? Huh? How about, "Hey-we'll raise your salary-you can put your kid in a private school; you can live in a condo-who wants
to mow grass anyway; don't get shaky about the traffic problems-use the subway, cars are a pain."
At the risk of sounding facetious, I think it is time for legislation that forbids crowded cities to add even one additional soul until all under-populated towns have reached their optimum level.