Guardians of the road

Dear Editor:

Anecdotally, I can say that the roads have never been so chock-a-block with drivers oblivious to speed or signage or to the drivers around them. There’s more tailgating on most days than you’d find at an Alabama-Auburn football game. Scarier still, the outright hostility and gross indifference seem not anomalous but part of the nihilism du jour. Forget about meeting the nicest people on a Honda – or Harley. If there are nice people on the road, they keep different hours.

Radar speed signs have also become as ubiquitous as Japanese knotweed, though not all are created equal.

As recently as last month, my regular drive south on Route 186, from Route 1 to Winter Harbor, took me past two solar-powered signs, one toward the head of the road, the other in Winter Harbor proper. The first greets the compliant driver with a big, friendly thumbs-up icon, which makes me think of the native Hawaiian “salute.”

By contrast, the town sign has become a fixture, not unlike the Scandinavian land spirits of old, demanding appeasement for safe passage. Its no-nonsense, flashing array of blinding LEDs and a “too fast” message seems to possess a particular, mean-spirited, gate-keeping prickliness for those of us even minimally over the 25-mph limit – which is to say, nearly everyone. You can take your foot off the gas at D.C. Air and still be over the limit as you come down over the hill.

Flanking lawn signs urge drivers to “Drive like your kids live here,” though I have yet to see a child on either side. Missing are signs for the people I do see, mostly parents and grandparents. Are the rest of us so much chopped liver? If we are truly a global village, shouldn’t we be driving the same everywhere?

Everyone knows you get more with sugar than with salt so I’m raising my hand to make a motion that the “island greeting” be made a stock feature on all speed signs. I’ll not only comply, I’ll happily twist my thumb and pinky and shout “Aloha!” to the guardians of the road.


Durin Chappe


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