Want Faster Traffic Flow? Pass Immigration Reform! Musing on Unintended Consequences

It turns out that SLOW drivers do a lot more to impede smooth traffic flows than speeders.  This is particularly evident here in the otherwise dry and well-paved Bay Area.  You will slowly pick your way through a knot of jammed traffic to find one or two people boobling along at 55-60 with nothing but clear road ahead of them.

While you are stuck behind some such rolling roadblock, you have time to muse on what might be the cause of this odd behavior?

  • Some of it is the curse of the Prius driver trying to get a high score on the ultra-miler on-board video game.  They need to adjust that algorithm to account for the gas wasted by all the people piled up stop-starting behind…
  • Others are the usual suspects – elderly people, elderly cars, tie dye paint jobs, cat-centric bumper stickers, or otherwise obviously impaired.
  • Mellow California-ness?  Possible, but this is the Bay area no Santa Cruz.  And I’ve observed the same elsewhere.

But many of them just seem like ordinary people of ordinary age driving ordinary cars.  And you connect that to recent articles about sky-high deportations after minor brushes with the law.  And you start to wonder if at-the-speed-limit-but slower-than-reasonable driving is an un-intended consequence of the recent immigration crackdown.

This would make at least some sense.  People start to fear (rightly or wrongly doesn’t really matter) that ANY traffic stop will lead to them being put on a plane to a country they often barely remember.  So the obvious answer is to scrupulously obey the traffic laws.  Even if that means doing 55 on a highway where “everyone” does 70.

So we all end up paying an invisible, individually-small-but-collectively-large efficiency tax as a result of over-zealous immigration enforcement.

That or I am just trying to make sense out of the insensible.   Which is more likely the case.  But its a fun idea regardless.

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