Ross: A toll-based solution for the Puget Sound region’s impatient drivers

Oct 25, 2021, 6:38 AM | Updated: 2:12 pm
Impatient drivers...
(WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)
(WSDOT, Flickr Creative Commons)

Over the past few weekends, I’ve found myself getting out more and driving the freeways – and I’ve come to realize that at least when it comes to weekend driving, I can’t compete anymore.

I’m surrounded by too many impatient drivers, especially on weekends.

Colleen has taught me to think kindly of them, and to consider that the tailgater might be a panicked husband driving his pregnant wife to the hospital.

But there must be a huge population explosion going on, because they’re everywhere, and they are relentless.

Sunday on I-405, I watched an Acura impatiently sniffing the private parts of a Subaru in the southbound express toll lanes approaching Bothell. They were only two car-lengths behind – if that — and doing about 72. There’s only one toll lane there! So what’s the Acura expecting the Subaru to do, levitate?

Sometimes I’m driving at the prevailing speed in center lane and I’m boxed in, until some car suddenly starts sniffing my exhaust. I get it – I, too, wish you pass, but I can’t move! I’m sorry, OK? I apologize for being between you and your emergency. But could you lay off my car’s private parts?

I’m guessing that the reason for this is that on weekends, there’s no incentive to use the toll lanes, so the people in a rush mingle with the rest of us who are just trying to stay alive. But you don’t belong there. And the weaving motorcycles don’t belong there either. I was not at all surprised that a motorcycle flew off the I-90 bridge over the weekend.

I don’t want to play the game anymore. I just want some distance between myself and all of you who are driving to emergencies.

So here is my innovative, ground-breaking idea: Since we already have the technology to toll drivers who want to skip the traffic jams during rush hour, … why don’t we use that same technology and extend it across all the lanes to pay drivers in the ordinary lanes who are able to drive the speed limit for their entire journey?

It wouldn’t have to be much – just $5 if you can keep it no higher than 60 miles an hour for your whole trip. That way, the tailgaters would make $5, too, and might actually back off and thank you instead of just sniffing you.

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Ross: A toll-based solution for the Puget Sound region’s impatient drivers