See updates through January 28, 2023, at end of post.
If, in the over 50 years I lived in and around northern California, you had told me I would ever miss the California Highway Patrol, I would have told you you were nuts, out of your mind, and I don’t even want whatever drugs you’re on.
Now that I’m in Pittsburgh, I miss the California Highway Patrol. What’s routine here would be regarded as reckless in California and I’m guessing half the drivers I see on the road would lose their licenses in short order.
There is a remarkable entitlement not merely to speed, but to recklessly speed among too many drivers in the Pittsburgh area. If, even in the slow lane, you are doing anything less than 20-25 miles per hour over the limit, you are liable to have some asshole tailgating you, honking their horn. I have even been forced to swerve into opposing lanes of traffic by a driver passing far too close on my right, cutting me off (I had just done a left turn onto the roadway from a gas station).
And I see zero enforcement. What traffic enforcement there is is more about race than about safety, leading the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to pass ordinances forbidding stops for so-called “secondary” violations (think “fix it” tickets) like burned out taillights. The Pittsburgh white supremacist gang is now ignoring that city’s ordinance on specious grounds.
I have personally witnessed the racism in so-called ‘policing’ around Pittsburgh in action. It’s one reason—only one reason—I now label police ‘white supremacist gangsters’ and I have absolutely no doubt that local ‘police’ are white supremacist.
The obvious risk with legislation endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette enabling local white supremacist gangsters to use radar to enforce speed limits is that this, too, would be much, much more about race than about safety in an area where I strongly suspect a tacit agreement between white people with their “thin blue line” paraphernalia and the gangsters allowing the former to drive recklessly.
With the secondary violations, I unhappily endorsed Pittsburgh’s ordinance because, in my experience, many of those secondary violations are caused by terrible road conditions (light bulb filaments, for example, take poorly to endless vibration) like potholes and cobblestone and brick streets. I would prefer that Pittsburgh and surrounding municipalities actually fixed their damn roads. And the surprising truth is, I haven’t felt less safe due to its passage, though I am seeing perhaps a few more broken-down cars, cars that might otherwise not have been on the road in the first place, on the side of the road.
The reckless driving, on the other hand, is something else entirely. For me, this is a clear and present danger.
It seems that when folks stop for a red light, the thing to do now is to steer around those folks and run the red light yourself. I’ve seen this on three separate occasions since writing that post. This afternoon, a dark blue Maserati pulled from behind me to do this, as opposing traffic had already started doing left turns. They all managed to avoid a wreck.
Also this afternoon (January 27), a pickup truck driver had me roll down my window to chastise me and call me names for driving slowly on a rutted brick road.
Update, January 28, 2023: My patience with the driving in Pittsburgh is growing very, very short.
Today, I was on unfamiliar ground in a rural area either of Allegheny County or Washington County, looking for a street. I guess I took too long. Some asshole in a pickup truck honked at me as I finally found the street and made the turn. I mean, come on, none of these people have ever had to look for an unfamiliar address before?
I decided to make that the last ride of the night as it was apparent there was a Penguins game, and I was in no mood to be sucked into everybody wanting to get me stuck in traffic trying to get to PPG Arena. Even as I dropped that ride off in the Strip District (I’m guessing it’s named for its geographic shape but there’s only one “strip club” there, at least that I know of), I was deluged with ride requests for small amounts, like I’m gonna take under five bucks to go get stuck for a half hour in PPG Arena traffic.
So I headed home along my usual routine, stopping for a car wash, adding a stop at Whole Foods Market (pretty much indispensable for vegans), and then finally stopping for gas. But as I was walking out of the Whole Foods, you know, where people are supposed to be nice, I noticed one lady backing out of a parking space. There was a guy, who had backed into his space, in a monster pickup truck on the other side of the lane, pulling out forward. He couldn’t even wait for her to finish pulling out to start encroaching her from behind. Of course, she saw him edging out and turned more sharply to leave some room, but she had cars on both sides, so this would have (I didn’t actually see this) slowed her down considerably. No matter, he just couldn’t wait to get moving, even when there was no way he was getting there faster for being an asshole.
It’s this senseless aggression that really gets to me. Because if these people are that aggressive, they’re guaranteed to get into a collision. Possibly with me.
I like my car. I want to keep it. I don’t want Pittsburgh roads destroying it. I don’t want Pittsburgh drivers destroying it.
But oh yeah, in one of their stupid driver surveys, Uber wanted to know if I feel safe driving for them today. They don’t ask why I feel threatened, though it’s a combination of asshole drivers, a complete lack of traffic enforcement, and, of course, an awful lot of people fucking shooting at each other because they can’t tell their guns apart from their penises, which is to say that Uber is really just wondering if it’s time to gaslight us on safety again.
And yeah, it would be real nice if my car didn’t get shot at.
- Julia Felton, “Proposal would prevent Pittsburgh police from pulling over drivers for minor, secondary violations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-would-prevent-pittsburgh-police-from-pulling-over-drivers-for-minor-secondary-violations/; Julia Felton, “Proposal to stop Pittsburgh police from making minor traffic stops moves forward,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 16, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/proposal-to-stop-pittsburgh-police-from-making-minor-traffic-stops-moves-forward/; Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh council to vote on whether police can make minor traffic stops,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 20, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-council-to-vote-on-whether-police-can-make-minor-traffic-stops/; Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh bans traffic stops for minor violations,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 28, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-bans-traffic-stops-for-minor-violations/; Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh activists, officials hope legislation will end ‘systemic racism’ in traffic stops,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 16, 2022, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-activists-officials-hope-legislation-will-end-systemic-racism-in-traffic-stops/; Jonaki Mehta, “Why Philadelphia has banned low-level traffic stops,” National Public Radio, November 8, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/11/08/1052957246/why-philadelphia-has-banned-low-level-traffic-stops; Andy Sheehan, “Police traffic stops decreasing in Pittsburgh’s communities of color,” KDKA-TV, May 11, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/police-traffic-stops-decreasing-in-pittsburghs-communities-of-color/↩
- Kiley Koscinski, “Pittsburgh Police resume secondary traffic stops despite city ordinance against them,” WESA, January 12, 2023, https://www.wesa.fm/politics-government/2023-01-12/pittsburgh-police-resume-secondary-traffic-stops-despite-city-ordinance-against-them; WTAE, “Controversial memo prompts Gainey’s response on secondary traffic stops,” January 14, 2023, https://www.wtae.com/article/gaineys-stangrecki-secondary-traffic-stops-memo/42507062↩
- David Benfell, “Hey cops! Do you know what year it is?” Not Housebroken, August 27, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/27/hey-cops-do-you-know-what-year-it-is/↩
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Harrisburg, let cops have tools to enforce speed limit,” January 25, 2023, https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2023/01/25/speed-limit-enforcement-radar-local-police-pennsylvania/stories/202301240114↩
- David Benfell, “Will Pittsburgh deprive its white supremacist gangs of one tool for harassing the poor, especially of color?” Not Housebroken, December 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/11/09/will-pittsburgh-deprive-its-white-supremacist-gangs-of-one-tool-for-harassing-the-poor-especially-of-color/↩
- David Benfell, “A life worth living,” Not Housebroken, January 27, 2023, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/12/27/a-life-worth-living/↩
- David Benfell, “Reckless driving as routine,” Not Housebroken, January 27, 2023, https://disunitedstates.org/2023/01/25/reckless-driving-as-routine/↩
- David Benfell, “Gaslighting Uber drivers on safety,” Not Housebroken, January 6, 2023, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/04/28/gaslighting-uber-drivers-on-safety/↩