Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day-Before-Thanksgiving Traffic

Traffic is different today, on the day before Thanksgiving. And it’s not just that traffic is lighter on commercial through streets and heavier on highways. The traffic has a different character. An unusually large proportion of drivers, the highest of any day of the year, don’t quite know where they are because they are going somewhere they don’t go often. They are more hesitant. When they stop at a stop sign, they may take a second longer to size up the intersection before they proceed. They might be reading the street signs. They act like they’ve never been in this town before — and in many cases, that’s true.

The behavior of the traffic on the day before Thanksgiving must be maddening to people who otherwise drive only in rush hour, a time when they can expect nearly all drivers on the road to be quick and decisive. You can be quick and decisive when you’re driving to the same place for the 1,000th time. It’s not a realistic pattern to expect when you’re going someplace for the second or third time, as many people are today.

Patience and caution are helpful traits to adopt when you have to deal with a bunch of newbies on the roads (or anywhere else, for that matter). Patience, because it takes everyone longer to figure things out when they’re seeing them for the first time. Caution, because people who are in unfamiliar territory are likely to see things differently, and to make decisions you might not anticipate. I wish safe travels for everyone who is going somewhere today.