Understanding the Interstate of our South - Ryan Whelchel

It's been shown to my eyes as it has too many others who drive, or rather creep down Interstate 75 South during the p.m. rush-hour that many people should not have a license to drive.

Having multitudes of cars on the same stretch of road and cloudy weather seems to further hamper a driver's ability to actually drive. It's as if when the clouds creep over, people look to the sky then wrap a blindfold around their eyes and hit the gas. People become too irritable too quickly while trying to get home. Everyone has had a long day at work, school, or committing crimes, so we all want to get home, or to a safe house.

But because of this frustration there exists traffic jams and accidents probably everyday with nothing to do but sit in line and wait your turn, or actually the more irate people behind you will take your turn for you and speed past you on the shoulder leaving you to think, "What did that bumper sticker say?" Or actually it's probably more like "Please let the shoulder give out."

You can always spot the interstate veterans though. They are those who navigated the stretch of road for years knowing exactly when to apply the gas and brake, reactions of the other drivers?or seemingly so. These are the same people who somehow read newspapers or romance novels while driving, and the same that can drive with their knees while using their hands to eat an entire full course meal. I can't say that I'd rather be driving next to these people, but somehow it seems better to have a calm driver beside or behind you than an irate one wondering why he left his 12-gauge at home.

Accidents on the road always happen at the most unexpected time, that's why there're accidents. You sit forever on the interstate coming around corners where you can see miles ahead, thinking possibly you'll be able to see the reason why it's backed up. But a lot of times there are no reasons other than people cutting one another off, forgetting exit numbers, and people just being people.

I recently just started back at Georgia State for summer semester. By the time classes end, I'm usually not on the road until about 5 o'clock, the best time of day for travel, which is if you love frustration. It's hard enough to merge during rush hour, and then you must worry about people not seeing you and drifting into your lane, which is rare for me because I drive a 1992 Lincoln Towncar, Mafia issue, so you can't really miss me?unless you drive a semi-truck, which without fail, like clock work will try to see if I would fit under the tread of the semi's tire.

Reports have repeatedly shown that teenage drivers and drivers up to about 24 have the most accidents, and speeding tickets than any age group. I totally believe it, more so because there is more of that age group on the road than any other, but the real art of accidents and causing them are drivers who have been driving for a couple of decades. They are the ones who know they can just cut right in front of you without actually touching. They have it nailed down to an exact science. Which also makes me wonder if they get any satisfaction out of doing it? As if under the overhead visor they keep a tally of the cars they have cut off. These drivers meet weekly and the driver with the most tallies wins a free reinforced back bumper. Everyone who gets at least two tallies a week gets a bumper sticker that reads, "Your honking only motivates me."

When I'm coming home (I live in Jonesboro near ?Atlanta Beach'), I usually take the Mt. Zion exit. Well not on this day. The lane was backed up for miles, not because of an accident, just because. So I went further down the stretch of road towards Stockbridge, with the traffic barely thinning at all. Oh and there's the exit, not backed up that far and at least I can actually be on the exit ramp as opposed to miles from it at Mt. Zion. I get into the lane that is to turn right, that has just stopped because of the red light ahead. My friend and I sit in the car totally stopped. The light ahead turns green and the front cars begin to move just as a loud screeching of tires sounds behind me. I turned my head to the left just as a white F-250 or F-350, speeds right past me almost hitting my side mirror. Just as he passes in that micro second, I already compute in my brain that the screeching was him and he's just passed my car so it's fine now. Then my head snapping forward and the back of my car being greeted by another car lets me know that my computations were wrong.

The car behind me wasn't actually the one at fault. The car behind her was the owner of the screeching breaks. Three cars, one accident, 25 minute wait for the police. The long wait was due to a more severe accident down the street. At least the owner of the screeching brakes didn't try and blame it on anything; he fully admitted that he wasn't paying attention.

So there are three very positive conclusions that can be drawn here. The first being that no one was hurt at all, just minor whiplash. Second being, that my car is Mafia issue, and it just absorbed the blow and only has two small black tattoos of rubbed rubber to show. And third, it wasn't my fault at all, I mean after all I had a great first day at school, with a well enthused feeling that I will accomplish a lot within the next year, I didn't need a horrible accident to bring me down.

So if we could all slow down, remove the blindfolds, and do not let cloud cover blind your motor skills I think we will all survive with less than black tattoos.

Ryan Whelchel is a former intern for the News Daily. He is a student at Georgia State University.

Ryan Whelchel is a former News Daily intern and is an occasional columnist for the News Daily.