Sign of the times: Right turn laneSubmitted by Joseph.Ngo on Sun, 07/21/2013 - 03:00
So I was driving around town today with my window down taking in the 70F degree summer reprieve and stopped at the red light. As I was I listening to some tunes from The Corrs, I noticed ahead of me on the right turn lane adjacent to mine that the lane was clearing up of cars going through the right of way protocol for red light turns, yet to my rear I noticed a long queue of cars patiently waiting their turn (pun intended). The problem as I discovered was that the kid in the car next to mine was preoccupied with his electronic device/phone and was caught blissfully unawares that 100 yards of right turn runway was silently beckoning him to proceed and turn.
At this point I thought to myself that I could just sit back and wait and see how long it would take for him to notice that it was now his turn for action. Then it dawned on me that the person directly behind him waiting to turn was no doubt also preoccupied (or possibly dreading reaching their destination and therefore not in any hurry). In any case, a good five or six other drivers in my proximity also saw the curious development yet they were content to see what would happen. After what seemed like a long five seconds or so, I gave the driver a toot from my car horn which brought the young blockhead to attention and soon the natural flow of traffic was restored.
Of course being a Daily Paul consumer, I took the opportunity to take a seemingly uneventful incident and analyze it and considered the (perhaps) far-reaching implications to society. Take for instance the right turn lane in this case. In our little analogy, this right lane can be the right decision process that every American with their rational faculties intact would naturally proceed from in a free society. The tenets for this uniquely American decision process is of course life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The turn signal in our example is representative of the State where the right of free movement is curtailed by mandate of the light statutes. (One might argue in this over simplified example that here is an instance where the State does a great job at increasing the flow of traffic. Informed by the times I've sat idle at red lights with no cross traffic, I say it can be done better. But I digress.) The ability to complete a right turn at a red light can be likened to the Tenth Amendment of traffic laws; that is, the power to stop and detain traffic is explicitly granted to the State and her red lights, but the right to turn right after stopping (and where it is not explicitly prohibited) is retained by the people.
Now the drivers that moved ahead in the right turn lane were each affirming their right to turn safely after stopping in accord with the delegated red light power. Of course some of these drivers may have simply followed along blissfully unaware of their retained rights but that is outside the scope of this example. I would like to bring attention back to the distracted driver alongside me. Naturally we could agree that this driver wanted to make the right turn by virtue of maneuvering into the right turn lane and that this was his foremost priority. His reaction to my honk confirms this. But what would cause this driver to lose sight of his pursuit of happiness (completing the turn)? In this case it was an ephemeral stimulus, distraction by handheld device, but it could have easily been a giant billboard distraction or Superman twirling a furniture liquidation sign (true story). In any case, as this driver relinquished his pursuit of happiness, he deprived the drivers behind him of life and liberty if we take wasted time as a loss of life and blocking movement as an impediment to the later. Now we could say that it was the responsibility of those behind that could see the situation to speak up, talk the talk and toot the toot, especially the driver directly behind the distracted one. One could probably surmise that this driver too was distracted. The drivers way in the back of the queue could not arbitrarily honk and without the vantage point I had so they depended on the vigilance of their fellow drivers to speak up.
This episode speaks to the current state of affairs in America. With the broken education system indoctrinating students with empty history glorifying the State and failing to transmit even the most foundational of American rights, I would not begrudge anyone of their pessimism. But perhaps the underlying issue here is the frequency of distractions. As humans, we sometimes fall prey to our own curiosity and what follows are distractions that can sometimes impede us on our life's journey. But in our information age with its 24 hour news cycle and tabloids of every measure and taste, it takes gritty determination (or a spotty internet connection) to filter out the white noise and focus on what is important.
In the final analysis, I could have just waited and see just how long it took the kid to jerk his head back to the horizontal or if one of the arrested drivers intervened for their own sake. But I honked because I would have wanted a courtesy honk if I was similarly distracted. Driving or otherwise.