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Slipstream - August 2017

The monthly newsletter of the Maverick Region of the Porsche Club of America

Five Speed Chatter: Is

Five Speed Chatter: Is it a Battle or a Commute? (Part 2) By Ash Seidl-Staley elcome back, Mavs! There isn’t much space W this month for an introduction, so let’s just dive right in and talk about wolf packs. The Texas Driver’s handbook defines a wolf pack as “a group of vehicles traveling together in a bunch on an expressway.” We have all seen them, been stuck in them, and possibly even initiated a few of them, but how are they actually formed? The way I see it, a wolf pack can form on a highway by many different means, but two causes are by far the most prevalent. First, there is the wolf pack that is created at the spot where each frontage road entrance ramp enters a highway. I see this type transpire most frequently on Highway 80. Starting at around 5:45 am, multiple vehicles leaving Forney’s four exits enter the highway at the same time. Any driver unfortunately caught in the right lane on this section of road is forced to move over or slow down. The reduced speeds and lane crowding start the car stacking process, sending wolf packs onto the roadways in waves. Usually, by the time I reach the East Fork Road exit, I am no longer in cruise control, and the current of wolf packs has turned into full on vehicular congestion. The other type of wolf pack forms thanks to the actions of a slowpoke. A slowpoke is the driver of a semi-truck, a van, a pick-up truck, or just your average Toyota Camry, who decides to pass someone but does so going 1-2 miles an hour faster than the person they are attempting to pass. Before the snail passes the other snail, a long line of frustrated drivers, usually with you directly in the middle, congests the left lane. Oftentimes, the slowpoke is utilizing his cruise control setting, but has set it at a speed that is slower than he should use in the left lane. A slowpoke can also just drive slowly by nature. As you might have guessed from your own personal experience, for whatever reason many slowpokes refuse to exit the left lane, and force other drivers to perilously pass them on the right. States like Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia have implemented legislation against slowpoke drivers. Fines upward of $250 greet offenders in these states, but as of now there is no defense against a slowpoke driver in Texas. Unfortunately for many DFW drivers our next term is just as familiar and as frustrating as the slowpoke. I call them wanderers, but you might know them as the swervers, or the seemingly inebriated. No matter the time of day, or location, I see this driver bouncing from one set of a lane’s dotted lines to the other. Many wander into my lane right before I attempt to pass them. This not only forces me to slam on the brakes, but garners a honk from my horn and a few unsavory nouns from my mouth. Nine thousand times out of ten, the swerving driver is preoccupied with a smartphone, but there are a few instances where I believe sleep deprivation, chemical inebriation, or just plain negligence is the key factor to the bad driving. On September 1, 2017, the state of Texas will implement HB 62. This bill, which was recently signed by Governor Gregg Abbott, finally attempts to fight back against distracted drivers who are texting and driving. Close to five hundred deaths have been attributed to this form of distracted driving, and so have more than one hundred thousand traffic accidents. And those are just the figures for Texas in 2015! Personally, I can’t stand texting and driving. I don’t condone it, or practice it—not even at stop lights, but there are many people who don’t see a problem with it. Now HB 62 is not the answer to all distracted driving problems, and as it stands now, the bill isn’t even set in stone. Governor Abbott has called a special legislative session for mid-July. Many of the bill’s provisions and enforcement guidelines are currently cloudy and unclear. They could very well be altered this session to make implementation of the law easier. Currently though, talking while driving and pulling up google maps to find out where you are going will still be ok under HB 62, but law enforcement officers will be able to pull you over for texting, emailing, surfing the internet, or posting on your favorite social media platform. Fines will range from $20- $100 for each violation. But how law enforcement will determine if a person was texting or emailing is blurred. It will be up to each law enforcement agency to determine how and when they will enforce the bill, leaving many drivers wondering how it will affect their driving habits for the years to come. Well Mavs, that concludes my little list of terrible driving habits that plague DFW’s roadways. I would like to take the time to say that, although my prose here might imply or even reflect the actions of an aggressive and rage filled driver, they are just for comic relief. Now I’m not saying that the expletives don’t fly when a slowpoke pulls out in front of me, they do. But what I am saying is that I don’t cause accidents, or pull over, brandish a baseball bat, and bash in windshields. I’ve seen footage on YouTube that makes my waving hands look like child’s play. It can be a dangerous world out there. But no matter what your driving temperament is you can always stay safe on DFW’s roads by continuing to be calm, by trying to be courteous to other drivers, and by always remaining constantly aware of your surroundings. Until next time, stay sharp, and battle on Mavs! 28 August

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