Are drivers getting worse because Americans are getting worse?
This horrific accident today reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to bring up:
BALTIMORE – Six people died when a car crashed into a work zone Wednesday afternoon on the inner loop of I-695 in Baltimore County.
According to Maryland State Police, around 12:40 p.m., a car drove in between temporary placed jersey walls and struck multiple construction workers before overturning.
This is purely impressionistic, but I’ve been struck by what seems — again, no data — to be a marked deterioration in driving habits, especially since the beginning of the pandemic, when traffic enforcement fell to practically nothing for many months. I see people driving 100+ mph on the highway regularly; people running red lights three seconds after they’ve changed; drivers conducting elaborate text conversations on their phones while purportedly navigating their vehicles at the same time; and wildly aggressive driving of all kinds, etc. etc.
I wonder about the extent to which these changes, to extent they’re actually happening, may be a product of a more general sense of a collapse of social mores of various kinds — basically the MAGA let your fascist freak flag fly effect spilling over into lots of areas of social life.
What’s the difference after all between nobody can tell me to wear a mask and nobody can tell me to not drive 30 miles over the speed limit? They’re both symptoms of oppositional defiance disorder raised to the level of ideology, I suppose.
. . . commenter Michael Cleaves:
This is an issue that I have spent a sizable amount of the last five years thinking about, ever since we moved to a neighborhood barely a mile away from our old apartment yet saw our car insurance rates increase by about 10%. I wholeheartedly endorse the “yes” answer, but I do think one caveat needs to be made: this is directly related to the USA’s masculinity crisis. There is a global masculinity crisis, of course (= fascism), but because car ideology is a largely American thing, it’s manifesting in this way here. I have mentioned many times that I live on the margin between Avocado Toast Brooklyn and Blue Lives Matter Bumper Sticker Brooklyn. Drivers here are insane and at least one small child has been killed. Each of my own two children have been nearly hit more than once. I see this as the repercussions of Trumpism: first, Frothmouth Rightwing Baboon America decided it needed to push back against the encroachments of reasonable regulations to stem environmental and other effects of gas guzzling giant cars by buying even larger gas guzzling giant cars and driving them extremely fast. Then all the not especially political but certainly masculinist young men out there decided they didn’t feel manly enough and bought their own and started driving them around like they believe women are going to confuse them with Vin Diesel and fuck them. And here we are: another rising death toll that could easily be solved by simple regulations.