A hasty dispatch from the fast lane

GETTING THERE

October 30, 2006|By MICHAEL DRESSER

Forget witches, ghouls and zombies. Here's something really scary: Clarence R. Tunstall Jr.

The Baltimore man, a self-described "fast-lane driver," recently sent me an e-mail that describes his approach to the road. His message gives a valuable insight into the thought processes of a certain group of motorists.

A good-humored gentleman when he's not being a menace, Tunstall granted me permission to present his views in a lightly edited form.

Strap on your seat belts:

***

I wish to remark on a certain comment in your article that seems to disparage us fast lane drivers. If I have to I will reveal myself as one of those who frequent the "fast lane" on highways wherever I go.

I do NOT think that it is "my" lane nor do I wish to take ownership of it, but I DO take exception to those control freaks who get into that just to slow down us speeders.

I mean, how happy are these people that they would want to control the lives of complete strangers by trying to do someone else's job and slow us down? I mean, not even the police feel it necessary to stop me when I'm zipping up and down the highway at 70 or 74 mph. But I guess you all know how to manage traffic better than those whose job it is to enforce the traffic laws.

I have been in several hair-raising situations at 70-75 mph because of someone whose empty life does not present enough challenges for them that they would hop into that lane in front of me - just to slow me and my fellow speeders up to even below the speed limit. These acts in themselves are hazardous, are they not?

Yeah, to me, this is ridiculous from the standpoint that it is obvious to everyone including the police and the motor vehicle lawmakers that this is in fact the fast lane. An unofficial lane for us who are behind time and wish to make up a minute or two and, yeah, so what if it's just a couple of minutes, it's MY couple of minutes, not yours.

(I speak not of those perfect people who always leave room for the possibility of traffic backups. Me, I have a life and sometimes it gets a touch overcrowded so I speed to make up time. OK, so I speed most of the time whether I'm behind time or not, so what.)

I know I've seen the traffic sign itself on many a highway: "Slower traffic keep to the right"! But these people insist on doing things THEIR way. I guess these people know better than those who make the traffic laws.

So, yeah, I speed in the left lane. Yeah, I get annoyed when some "person" jumps in front of me and slows down when it is obvious that I am traveling at a much faster rate of speed. Who is creating the unsafe condition? Me or the person who jumps in front of me, forcing me (and the speeders behind me) to brake, jump to the right then back in front.

Oh, and for the really pushy types, who like to speed up once you do attempt to get around them, well in my opinion there's a special place in hell for them.

My question is who is creating the unsafe condition? Who is creating the greater hazard? Me, the speeder who would love nothing more than to stay in my little lane and zip to my destination undeterred, or that slowpoke control meister who wants to not only slow me down but take chances with everyone's lives by jumping in front of me to slow me down while I'm at 75 and they're at 60?

So, if these people want to make the speeder feel bad about doing 70-75 or even, God forbid, 80 mph in the fast lane, then guess what, it won't work!

Now there is a special breed much different from us normal speeders that whiz past at 100 mph, dipping and diving through traffic like they're Bo and Luke Duke on steroids. I mean, I have taken it up pretty high, so I guess I cannot talk, although doing so has been during my Mario Andretti moments when I feel the freedom of being alone in traffic traveling late at night with the highway to myself. I mean, why else would I buy the sports car, the looks alone?

***

REPLY: Clarence, you blow me away. You really belong in the dictionary, both as a noun and a verb:

"I was scared to death on the way down because the Interstate was crawling with tunstalls."

"We were cruising along at 5 miles over the speed limit when this guy comes tunstalling up behind us."

So, readers, for a really scary Halloween experience, keep in mind that tomorrow - and every day - you may be sharing the road with multiple drivers who, like Tunstall, are having a Mario Andretti moment.

Boo!

AND A CORRECTION: Richard Hutzler of Cockeysville objected that last week's column incorrectly identified the interchange at the Beltway and Reisterstown Road as a former cloverleaf. "It was always just a diamond," he said.

The SHA, which had provided the information, said the reader was correct. "It was a 1960s- style design that needed to be updated," said spokesman David Buck. He called the reconfigured interchange a "huge improvement."

gettingthere@baltsun.com

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