As Northside traffic worsens, avoid road rage with a cool head

Right outside my office window (wave if you pass by; mine’s the window with the lava lamp) they’re putting in exit and entrance ramps for Hammond Drive off Roswell Road.

The project will take 30-something months, so by the time it’s completed, you’ll actually be able to gridlock at Hammond instead of going all the way to Abernathy!

Traffic on the north side is — well, has been — out of control for years. Deep-pocket developers and self-serving politicians said: “Let’s develop all the way to Dahlonega, and out toward Gainesville, for all those folks driving in toward Atlanta.”

At the time, GA 400 had two lanes north and south. Soon, the 34-minute ride north in the afternoon became 40 minutes, then an hour, and now some are spending two hours each way. That’s crazy!

Remember when there used to be “windows” of driving opportunities? Rush hours were from 7-8:30 a.m. and then 4-6 p.m. Lunchtime didn’t count because you could get around. You could get up on Saturday and go to the hardware store — which I assume everyone does — and it was an easy trip. Not anymore.

Saturday morning now has its own rush hour.

Bottom line is we’re going to be in our cars longer and longer. There’s a fine line between finding that level of comfort and total distraction. It’s boring. When we’re bored we text, call on the cell phone, over-sing those songs on the CD player or pick our collective noses. (You’re not invisible in the car, just in case you didn’t know.)

We also become turf-oriented, which is another way of saying we’re a rude bunch of people in our cars.

Here’s what my latest rage is: Stoplights are longer than ever. We get in the turn lane and wait — and wait. While we’re waiting, we look around, do this and that, and then, optimistically, we bring our attention back to the stoplight as the green arrow lights up.

But many times we don’t bring our attention back. I’ve done it and I’m sure you’ve done it: Sitting there singing “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” with that look on your face like you’re really belting the song out — that face the drunken guys make during that cool phase of being hammered, about a half-hour before they puke or get thrown out the door.

That face.

Anyway, the guy behind you always sees the light first and you get the honk. If you’re lucky, it’s a short honk. But more and more it’s the long “&#*@!*” honk — the one that’s followed by the upside-down fastball sign in your rear view mirror.

Sometimes that’s all it takes for the fight to be on.

Tensions bound to get hotter with the temperature

We get more road-rage calls than ever before, and it’s not even summer yet. This traffic is going to be a train wreck for years to come. What you really have to do is just figure out a way to mellow out, which is unlikely because, well, nobody has every figured out how to do it.

Take time to enjoy the small things in life while traveling in your car, like looking at those “smart cars,” the ones that look like hard-boiled eggs on four wheels. They were quite the rage when gas was four bucks a gallon, but now the poor owners kind of have that look on their face like: “What the %$#&!* was I thinking??!!”

Don’t get mad at those smart cars. They’re cute and you can decorate them for Easter.

There is really nothing else we can do except for learn how to mellow out. The outer perimeter (remember that?) fizzled and there’s only so much land. Even if you planned it, it would take 10 years to see any progress and by then we’re all going to be crazy so it doesn’t matter anyway.

Instead, try to be calm and cool and don’t get so angry so quick. Road rage is an ugly dance partner, folks. Remember, there’s a bunch of us out there on the edge and I don’t want to be the one to make that last push! Be cool.

16 comments Add your comment


April 1st, 2010
10:10 pm

Everytime I read your column, I laugh. You have a great sense of humor and I can see why you were chosen to write these articles though it must be hard to make police work funny or even amusing. You do it well. Keep up the good work.

Sandy Springs Rocks

April 1st, 2010
10:25 pm

Good Story. Made me laugh.


April 1st, 2010
10:25 pm

I’ll be passing your office tomorrow on the way to the gym, and I will definitely be waving.


April 2nd, 2010
12:27 am

traffic lights are longer than ever… you missed one part not only are they longer than ever but if you are lucky enough for the light to turn green they are waaaaaaaay too short to allow all stopped at the light to go through. One notorious example is the exit ramp from 75 N at Cumberland, anyone who navigates that light knows that it is green in the morning commute for ohhhh 2 seconds not allowing motorists to exit expressway in timely fashion and almost begging people to run the light to make it through. Yo Cobb is this a red light trap or will you actually send someone out to look at this light and figure out how long it needs to be (i’m really beginning to think anyone involved in Transportation and highway safety in this town is a friggin IDIOT – here’s your chance to prove me wrong Cobb Co. State DOT)

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 2nd, 2010
8:04 am

GA 400 is a nightmare with no end in sight. I live off Windward and commute to Tucker everyday- i have to be on 400 before 630am, otherwise i’m stuck. DOT needs to get in together and build an extra lane in both directions to alleviate traffice from Holcomb Bridge to McFarland. Road rage will only get worse, just wait till the summer.


April 2nd, 2010
8:53 am

Although it will cause a little extra work for Lt. Steve and his coworkers as well as the morticians in the short term. Allowing Road Rage to reach its extreme potential will in the long term reduce traffic.


April 2nd, 2010
9:57 am

When it takes 5 minutes to walk and 15 minutes to drive to a location, at almost all points in the day, there’s a problem! That’s my road rage. The sad thing is you could have Einstein calculate the lights to no avail. But I guarantee if you moved Lowes… and make 400 yet bigger, we might be in business.

Lt. Steve

April 2nd, 2010
10:07 am

Flying cars?


April 2nd, 2010
12:24 pm

Flying cars!!! That’s it!! Just like Back to the Future. :)


April 2nd, 2010
12:37 pm

Seriously, Flying cars is your answer?!?!?
These people can not drive on the road, let alone putting them in the air!!!


April 2nd, 2010
12:42 pm

There has to be an improvement to road construction. It takes like 3 months just to build a sidewalk. Efficiency is key as building more roads will cause more harm than good.


April 2nd, 2010
3:33 pm

Thanks for another funny piece :) I do remember when rush “hour” in metro ATL wasn’t all day every day (been here for 20+ years). It is depressing how crowded it is even way up 400. I do find that singing my favorite tunes is very helpful in annoying traffic situations. At least I have Steve’s columns to make me laugh…


April 2nd, 2010
4:26 pm

I’ve been reading “View from the Cop” for years, and love it. You da’ “Man”, Steve.


April 2nd, 2010
9:04 pm

Where’s our jetpacks?! Doggone Jetsons promised but never delivered.


April 4th, 2010
9:49 pm

I’m visiting the area (Huge difference from Hampton Roads in VA), and will be living on the outskirts of Atlanta in a year or so.

It’s articles and info like your funny columns that make me both apprehensive and excited to get here permenantly.


April 5th, 2010
9:46 am

Call this “Road-Rage-by-Proxy.” I amped up to my first road rage after watching two drivers verbally go at each other. Rolling down the window, I shouted at them — more or less — to behave. My normally calm adult son who was sitting in the passenger seat then yelled at me because he couldnt protect us in my little four door sedan if they came in our direction (they didn’t). The short Midtown light turned green.and I drove off.watching the whole thing escalate in my rear view mirror, no long a Road Rage Virigin myself.