Anti-intellectualism on the A14

You’re going to drive all the way to your destination one day; it might be tomorrow and this is what you’re going to see. Speed limits ignored, “gaps” in the traffic filled, tailgating, forgetting those things called “indicators” work (or exist!) and roadworks.

You’ll definitely see roadworks because that’s how we do it here. If you haven’t seen roadworks on a drive that’s an hour long you’re a liar or an idiot for not buying a lottery ticket right now to capitalise on what must be a human sacrifice driven streak of luck. So get on it — the police will be around any time now and tickets to countries without extradition treaties don’t buy themselves!

How many cars can you see on our UK roads compared to when you drive in Spain, Greece or France? A lot. Probably too many. No, almost definitely. You’re cruising along at 70mph, in the middle lane, with the slower lane creeping at 40 (Sunday Driver, lorry, lorry, Sunday Driver, clapped out heap) and the inner lane burning along like Clarkson’s wish fulfillment fever dream of a British Autobahn. The “fast” lane is invariably filled with Audis and BMWs that wish they were Porches or a twin turbo matte black Brabus version of their pathetic selves.

21 Seconds To Go

You’re wondering what I am talking about aren’t you? Where are these people going and why do they need to get their so fast?

Let’s get into this.

Where do they need to get to that’s important enough to put lives, theirs and yours, in danger? And is going 95mph really going to get them there in a sufficiently shortened amount of time to actually get stuff done? It might do.

The A14, last week

What it won’t do is get them over or through that traffic jam up ahead, a traffic jam that has been caused by drivers just like them ignoring the variable speed limit that’s designed, by science, to help the traffic flow. Because that’s what they don’t get; give someone more than 200bhp and you’re giving them a virtual lobotomy, a pseudo-excision of that bit of brain that controls being sensible or indeed considerate on the road. I like nice cars, who doesn’t? I like good acceleration, which is why I bought a beautiful Wankel engined albatross of an RX8 PZ. But who likes stupidity, and who really likes being late because of it?

Ram-splatted into a guzzled off brainbox

Let’s just get the facts out there. There are three things craptastic speed zombos do that jank up the road a treat. This is science. There is a science to this you fools!

  1. Don’t obey the speed limit, especially the variable ones. There’s a correlation between traffic flow (q, vehicles per unit time) and traffic density (k, vehicles per unit distance). When flow or density get too high a critical point is reached — the number of vehicles reaching an area (a bottleneck) is greater than the number leaving it. A traffic jam occurs. Because of you.

2. Drive too close to the car in front. This is the cause of the traffic wave or traffic shock. It’s simple and you know it. You’re too damn close to Mary , and that custom paintjob Opodo lorry full of avocados (grown in rediscovered clay wells by artisan mountain people that are directly descended from Ra Om Ka, lost God of pretentious food swallowers), swerved just as as Ladyhawke shouted “HEY! You’re playing with my delirium.” Now Mary’s spooked and has put on the brakes and so you put on the brakes. The Audi behind you is too close to, of course, and has slammed on it’s brakes forcing the Range Rover to do the same. Now we’ve got a shockwave going and soon there’s going to be a traffic jam you total, utter plonker.

A Traffic Compression Wave: DO YOU SEE IT?

3. Cut in as soon as you can, because me me me meifirstmeifirstmememe. You do this as soon as a lane is closed instead of zip joining like a man with a brain would. Conversely you don’t let zip joiners join because… you’re special? Either way you’re causing a situation that’ll lead to a traffic jam; the first because you’re getting into situation 2, the second because you’re going to force situation 2 to happen to other people. Jesus Christ man. Think.

Do you think that’s petrol you’re drinking?

You don’t need an Enigma machine to crack this. There’s no secret. Everyone knows this though and if we’re all honest the problem is impatience and selfishness. You think that you’re the one, like Neo in The Matrix, that can somehow control your journey, somehow make it better and get there faster than your alternate self who took the blue pill and drove sensibly.

Welcome. To the real world.

Communism doesn’t work, not really. In any other system in life there will always be the few that exploit the system, no matter how fair you try to make it. If this were France or Spain where the traffic is relatively light on the motorways and the roads are mostly fab then yeah, your R5 and M3 are going to cane it down the asphalt and you’ll be by the beach 20 minutes ahead of time. Great.

But this is the United Kingdom and our roads are chocka block. It’s a self limiting system and short of a Mad Max style free-for-all with flamethrower guitars and the Great Humongous wrecking your back end you can’t beat the physical fact; there are masses of other cars on the road. You’re not an individual anymore, you’re part of the flow so don’t do the big bad 3, don’t fight the flow.

Go with it.