Speed Limits

by Amelia Kanan

Recently, a friend told me an interesting fact about driving. The gist of it is: humans aren’t biologically comfortable traveling at speeds over 30 mph. Although airplanes fly at a much faster speed than cars, we don’t see clouds speed past us as we do trees or buildings while driving. Thus, frequent and fast-paced driving can induce physical and mental stress.

Just thinking about my weekday commute makes my heart race. If I leave before 7 am and take the quickest route (the 10E to the 110S to the 91E), I can get to my office in 28 minutes flat. But that means I’m at work at 7:28 am flat. Yet, when I wait until 7:01 am or any later and take the same freeways, I have to deal with brake-gas-brake driving for 45 to 60 minutes.

Like any love-hate relationship, I have a lot of respect for driving and the rules of the road. I’m not a perfect driver, but I am a passionate driver. Meaning that I apologize when I accidentally cut someone off (even if they had been driving super slow in the LEFT LANE and only sped up the second they saw my turn signal go on). Also, I’m passionately dedicated to educating my fellow road companions via a polite horn beep, an informative hand signal and sometimes, if they’re lucky, a window-to-window pep talk about being mindful and present in their lane of traffic.

Look, I am a very patient and calm person when it comes to most things. After years of working with all kinds of personalities, I’ve mastered the art of not taking things personally and truly letting things roll off my back. I have a strong aversion to grudges and passive-aggression. And, I believe that remaining authentically kind, especially when my face wants to explode with frustration, is always the most beneficial and logical choice.

But I draw the line at bad drivers.

Drivers who don’t look before they change lanes or use their turn signals. Drivers who tail you even when there’s a mile-long traffic jam. Drivers who cruise at dangerously s-l-o-w speeds…in the carpool lane. Drivers who go 10 miles SLOWER than the flow of traffic and are TEXTING while driving on a MAJOR freeway. By the way, are traffic police ticketing frightfully slow af drivers because, frankly, roads are most endangered by fear-driven motorists who are clearly not confident enough to safely operate their vehicles?!

I digress.

Sharing a city with more than 4 million people can unfortunately make strangers feel like obstacles, rather than other humans who are also stressed out because they, too, are driving at biologically unnatural speeds.

In an effort to lay off the innocent drivers who don’t deserve the shade I throw, I’m learning how to slow my roll with a scenic commute. Calmly coasting past trees, shops, schools, churches and people at a speed that feels innately comfortable. Yielding to bicyclists, eager students and hurried pedestrians. A new commute that now makes me, unbelievably, wish that I get stopped at a long, red light.