Thou Shall Not Pass . . .

This country is painted over with double yellow bars – a sort of rolling-ribbon prison, from which escape is not possible. Legal passing zones – always rare – are becoming almost nonexistent. Painted over – for no readily discernible reason.

Well, actually, there is a reason:

It is the purposeful discouragement of active – as opposed to passive – driving. This to pave the way for automated cars. To acclimate people to soporific transportation. To get them used to being meatsacks.

Superficially, the effacing of passing zones is justified on the claim that the act is inherently unsafe – and within the straightjacket idiocy of the laws as they exist, this is absolutely true.

Car “A” is moping along at 42 in an (underposted) 45 MPH zone. The driver of car “B” (and cars “C” and “D” stuck in the conga line) would like to proceed at a reasonable speed – at least the speed limit. But – legally speaking – the act of passing car “A” is almost an impossibility.

To do so would require temporarily exceeding the speed limit of 45 MPH – at least, if it is to be done safely.

To perform it legally means attempting to pass car “A” – traveling at 42 MPH – at a pace no faster than the maximum speed limit of 45 MPH.

A difference of 3 MPH.

The passing car – if you can call it that – will need an eighth to a quarter of a mile, at least, to execute this slow-motion maneuver. Not many such straight stretches – free of traffic in the opposing lane – exist.

A legal pass is thus rendered effectively not-doable. Might as well paint it double yellow.

The safe pass, meanwhile, entails risking a ticket for “speeding.” Possibly – these days – a “reckless driving” ticket.

Catch 22.

Most people, therefore, do not even try to pass anymore. Whether nominally legal or not. Rather than risk the ticket, or attempt what is palpably unsafe, they will queue up in a conga, accepting their fate.

This is exactly as intended – the object of the exercise being to make driving a boring, frustrating experience such that most people will not miss it once it’s been eliminated entirely. Give them gadgets to peck, email to check.

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