Every day I make a long drive to and from work. The distance really isn't that far. In fact, I'm certain it's under 25 miles between my apartment and the bank in which I now work. However, it takes somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour to make that 25 mile drive. Why is this?
The short answer is that most people who consider themselves to be "good drivers" are, in reality, class A morons.
The best example of this is the drive home. Each day I encounter the same phenomenon. It doesn't matter how early or late I happen to leave work. On Fridays, I leave work an hour later and the problem is just as bad as any other day. In an approximately five mile span on Capital Blvd. there are four traffic lights. Between the first and last of these lights, traffic comes to a virtual stand still. Drivers crawl along at a snail's pace. It's a real Office Space kind of moment. You see the lane moving beside you and as soon as you change lanes, that one stops and the one you were just in starts to move. The old guy with the walker passes you nonchalantly. A few minutes later you notice that he's a mile ahead of you. If only you'd walked to work that day, you'd be home by now.
Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but you get my point. The thing that truly astounds me is the fact that after that fourth intersection, all of the cars begin moving at and even beyond the speed limit. What makes the difference?
That final intersection of slowed traffic doesn't contain any huge turn-offs. To the left is a Ford dealership and nothing more. To the right, if posted signs are correct, is an industrial park. Now, I have to assume that there aren't many people turning into an industrial park at the end of the work day. I could be wrong. But it seems to me that people coming out of there would cause traffic to just get heavier. So why does that congestion tend to loosen up at that spot?
After that, we're not crawling along bumper-to-bumper. I suppose this is just one of the great mysteries of the universe that may never be answered.