There’s a great line in When Harry Met Sally when Billy Crystal skewers the idea of everyone thinking they have a great sense of humor. Everyone can’t have an above-average sense of humor, he argues – it’s mathematically impossible.
The same argument applies to driving. Everyone thinks they’re an above-average driver, but that’s mathematically impossible. Based on what I see on the roads the times I drive, it’s also just plain unbelievable.
Of course, I consider myself an above average-driver. When it comes to math and probabilities, I’m probably not as good. That hasn’t stopped me from calculating the following twelve rules of the road.
1. The speed of the car in front of you is directly proportional to the time you have left to make your appointment. Low speed = minimal time left; high speed = maximum time left. Corollary: the closer it is to the time of your appointment, the lower the likelihood you will find a parking space.
2. Your age is directly proportional to the likelihood of seeing the stupidest behavior you’ve ever witnessed on the road. That is, the older you are, the more likely you are see stunts you never thought you’d witness and never wanted to see.
3. The likelihood that lane markers are considered less as “boundaries” and more as “suggestions” increases exponentially the closer you get to any given downtown area.
4. The cost of the car in front of you is inversely proportional to the likelihood its driver will use its turn signals.
5. A driver driving too slowly in front of you on a city street will only realize they are doing so when they see a yellow light. They will then accelerate enough get themselves through the intersection, leaving you stuck at the red light.
6. Signs warning you of a road closure are only posted after your last opportunity to choose an alternate route.
7. The most reliable way to ensure that you only get green lights in the car is to pick up your mail as you leave your house.
8. The last person to notice that a stoplight has turned green is the first person in line.
9. The likelihood that drivers are completely oblivious to the fact that they’re impeding the flow of traffic increases proportionally as you move from the slow lane to the fast lane on the freeway.
10. Refraining from accelerating around a slow driver in the name of safety and politeness because you are about to leave the freeway doubles the chances that they will take the same exit.
11. The chances of your being rear-ended increase exponentially if you are carrying something expensive and/or fragile in the trunk.
12. When you leave a buffer of room between you and the car in front of you on the freeway, chances are 100 percent that someone will think you’re leaving that space for them to merge in front of you.
Finally, one last probability: your level of aggravation about driving is inversely proportional to the chances that Congress is going to increase funding of mass transit. Sigh.