I moved out of Ocean City over 15 years ago, bought a house near Ocean Pines, and travel Route 90 every day east and west for work — at least until recently.
For years I have wanted to vent my frustrations with the behavior of drivers I have seen and experienced in and around the Ocean Pines area and while traveling on Route 90.
Now it seems that this behavior has a name: Vehicular Social Distancing.
These drivers consistently park more than a foot off of a parking block, stop two car lengths back from the stop light line and also leave three car lengths between themselves and the vehicle in front of them at a stopped exit ramp light — particularly the west bound Route 90 exit ramp light onto Route 589.
Even after this light turns green, these drivers continue to leave three car lengths, as they move through the light to Route 589.
This significantly reduces the number of vehicles that are then able to get through this light.
When three or more Piners have multiple car lengths tied up, sometimes only four to five vehicles will legally make it through the light.
If the Piners are not paying attention, are texting their grandkids or are paying attention to their driving lap puppy (usually named Fifi, Apples or Peaches) then the number of vehicles that successfully makes it through the light, drops to three to four.
Sometimes the drivers are napping at the wheel and need several honks before they realize that something demands their attention and that traffic is moving.
I am pretty sure Jackson Browne must have visited this area when he wrote his iconic tune “The Pretender.”
Where else would he have come up with his lyrics “...and the veteran dreams of the fight, fast asleep at the traffic light...” ?
To further infuriate frequent drivers, the westbound exit ramp light, onto Route 589, has the fastest green light time frame known to man.
It very quickly turns back to red and takes forever to turn green again.
As you can imagine, this consistent behavior is more than frustrating to the drivers behind them. All the other drivers want to do is to get out of traffic and go home.
On more than one occasion I have bypassed this exit ramp light, (basing my route on the vehicular spacing ahead of me) turned north on Route 589 into the Shore Stop, exited from the north side of that lot, back onto Route 589, and still beat the light moving south on Route 589.
By the way, don’t try to get out of the lot from the Shore Stop’s south exit, you will surely get stuck behind someone trying to make the impossible left, created from new nightmare traffic patterns created by the medical facilities.
Route 90 Piner drivers also practice Vehicular Social Distancing.
They do not want any vehicles in front of them, so they drive anywhere from 35 to 42 mph consistently.
But absolutely never do they drive the posted speed limit of 55 mph. Ever.
Last spring I had the misfortune of driving west, mid-day, on Route 90.
Traffic speeds never made it above 35-40 mph from Coastal Highway and continued to slow down until the head of the line came to a full stop just west or slightly over the Ocean Parkway overpass.
I was the fourth car back in the convoy and heard and saw everything clearly. The line of traffic, as viewed from my rearview mirror, was backed up beyond and over the crest of the St. Martins Neck bridge.
An older guy in a mustard-colored leisure suit (definitely from a ’70s line of apparel) scissored himself out of his low-rider burnt orange new sports car. (Needless to say, both the car and the suit were not age appropriate — he must have a thing for Steve McQueen.)
Old guy Steve McQueen finally was able to stand up straight and strode over to the vehicle directly behind him.
A younger guy rolled down his window and received a barrage of verbal abuse including: “Stop driving so close behind me!”
I admire the younger guy for not responding disrespectfully and for not correcting the old guy’s grammar to “stop driving so closely behind me.” He had to be biting his tongue.
I guess the old guy felt it was safer to bring miles of traffic to a complete stop, on a major traffic artery, rather than actually drive the speed limit.
Obviously he felt the driver to his rear was invading his Vehicular Social Distance.