Unpopular opinion: Blame yourself for bad traffic in Western Washington

Aug 4, 2018, 9:06 AM
pay per mile, road usage charge, seattle traffic, memorial day 2019, Labor Day...
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

Though many would like to point the finger at authorities for the traffic mess the region finds itself in, KIRO Nights hosts Zak Burns and Gee Scott note that there’s another equally guilty culprit — you.

All of us, really.

“I know we like to blame SDOT, WSDOT, all our departments of transportation for our traffic woes,” Zak said. “And certainly they are partially to blame. But we have to start looking inward a little bit more.”

Both KIRO Nights hosts Gee and Zak were recently stuck — in separate cars — in the same traffic jam around Tacoma. Cars came to a sluggish crawl.

RELATED: Traffic is a symptom of larger problem

“Suddenly, we are stuck in this traffic jam in Tacoma,” Zak said. “I always find it fascinating to see exactly what caused this. What is the reason for this?”

It turns out, there were two cars involved in an accident. The drivers had pulled over to the side of the road on a rather wide shoulder.

“Plenty of room; you didn’t have to slow down whatsoever,” Zak said. “But guess what everybody did? They slowed down just to take a little peek. What did that cause? A massive, massive backup. The minute we passed the accident, the lookie-loos had nothing to lookie-loo at, and the entire traffic jam just went away. That is completely human behavior. Nothing to do with infrastructure. Nothing to do with what WSDOT has done. Nothing to do with what SDOT has done. We are creating so many of our own traffic jams.”

Human behavior is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Simply put, there are a lot of bad drivers out there slowing things down for everybody else. It’s easy to blame WSDOT for bad traffic. It’s not so easy to confront your neighbor or the person one lane over who is blatantly on their phone.

“Folks are on their phones,” Gee said. “I actually took a picture (of the accident), so I can blame myself. I took the picture because I was mad. I was real mad that there was bad traffic for no reason.”

“Traffic in our town, a lot of it is caused by us,” he said. “We have rubber necks … and another thing that is hurting us — we are on our phones. We are checking social media, emails, text messages that are going on right now. It’s slowing everybody down. Instead of going 60 miles an hour, you’re going 54.”

By the way, Washington does have a pretty strict distracted driving law.

Gee’s observation lines up with a recent study out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham which states distracted driving is slowing things down on the road. Not to mention another study that ranked Washington state with the fifth worst drivers in the nation.

“And we refuse to zipper merge,” Zak added.

The zipper merge phenomena in Washington has prompted multiple reminders from KIRO Radio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan. One brewery even became so frustrated by it, they painted instructions on their delivery trucks.

“I know we get angry at others, but we should really start blaming ourselves,” Zak said.

KIRO Nights on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to kiro nightsTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 7 pm for KIRO Nights with Jack Stine.

KIRO Nights

KIRO Nights

four-day workweek...
Frank Sumrall

Four-day workweek movement gaining momentum in the U.S.

This movement is spearheaded by 4 Day Week, an organization that backs the idea of the four-day workweek as a part of the future.
7 days ago
L.B. Gilbert

Spike: ‘A good day in America’ after cannabis charges dropped

President Biden announced Thursday that he would begin the steps of pardoning all federal convictions of “simple possession” of cannabis.
2 months ago
Jack Stine

Stine: You want a union? Start your own business

As a Seattle Starbucks votes to unionize, Jack Stine offers his thoughts on why union protections for non-skilled labor limit workers' potential.
9 months ago
report card, crosswalks...
KIRO Nights

Will ‘report card’ signs stop Seattle drivers from going through crosswalks?

KIRO Nights host Jack Stine and traffic reporter Chris Sullivan discuss the merits of the "driver report card" signs Seattle is planning to install.
9 months ago
retail theft...
Jack Stine

Stine: With Seattle’s retail theft on the rise, city erects barrier from blame with shoplifting audit

The Seattle City Council announced this week that they are commissioning the City Auditor to identify solutions to the city's retail theft problem.
9 months ago
KIRO Nights

KIRO Nights: Is it time for masks to go, or do we keep this ‘simple intervention?’

KIRO Nights host Jack Stine asked frequent guest Dr. William Zinnanti, MD, Ph.D., for his thoughts on whether it's time to stop requiring masks.
10 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Unpopular opinion: Blame yourself for bad traffic in Western Washington