The long weekend in May marks the start of the summer driving season.


This is a scientific fact substantiated by a big leap at the gas pumps and severe sticker shock for drivers.


The laws of supply and demand mean that extra volume sales are different than volume purchases at Costco because the gas price goes up-not down-despite larger volume sales.


It is not the volume discount methodology of other businesses; it is basic highway robbery.


But this column is not about the giant puzzle behind gasoline prices, it is a semi-annual look at driving-the summer edition.


More drivers on the road mean substantially more stupidity on the road and the issue is basic survival.


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The big- ticket item on today’s roads is still the drunk driver. They are less funny than old movies and TV sitcoms had us believe in the past because real-life death and destruction can suck the comedy right out of impaired driving.


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But now they have dangerous company on the roads because people feel the need to communicate while behind the wheel.


Texting is a common practice that has its roots in a fantasy world in which people can multi-task with relative ease.


We can’t multi-task behind the wheel- seriously we can’t- but there are plenty of takers when it comes to distracted driving as a hobby. Distracted driving is definitely a really bad hobby, it probably rates behind stamp collecting as a hobby, but stamp collecting typically does not run into cars or over pedestrians.


The healthier residents of the summer roads are on pedal bikes and I salute their ambition, but not their road choices. Travel on major arteries may be your right as a cyclist, but do you really want to exercise that right on a busy roadway?



Typically a busy road may contain a young distracted teenaged driver with girl or boy trouble that desperately needs to be sorted out by texting behind the wheel of a car. They may not even be aware that they ran over a militant cyclist- or are even (like omigod) driving for that matter.



It would be difficult to write about traffic without a comment on signal light use. Use of signal lights is not reserved for the unwashed masses; we expect that everybody is included in this group activity.


Try not to be “that guy” in traffic. The guy who refuses to use signal lights because he is much too important for that basic courtesy. All other drivers now loathe you and that is often a preamble to a really stupid road rage incident.


Speed does indeed kill people. Clint Eastwood was right; a man’s gotta know his limitations, and there are too many limited-skill drivers on the road. Faster speeds simply means a larger kill and carnage radius for talent-challenged drivers.



Notice when pedestrians appear at marked crossings. Unlike the chicken, we know why they want to cross the road. What we don’t know is why so many drivers stop for pedestrians in the middle of a block, let them jaywalk, and then ignore them at marked crosswalks. One of the great mysteries of our time.


And thus ends another summer driving primer.


Jim Sutherland may be reached at


GERRY:”My wife walks all the time dowtown and walks home, many times she has just about been run over at crosswalks (she’s the one in the right) but it don’t seem to matter, she’s been pulled back also by her co-walker and has had her hand on the hood of more than one vehicle and many other instances, total lack of respect and concentration by the majority of drivers at crosswalks, like she says a lot of times it’s safer to cross the street in the middle”.