Well, my life is weird. How about yours?
I’m thinking an Independence Day sized flying saucer sucked up all the drivers and took ’em to another world made of garlic pizza crust, or COVID-19 has finally caused society to retreat to the Earth’s Core, which is made of dipping sauce.
It has to be one or the other. There’s no in-between.
Traffic is nowhere to be found. It’s like my muse quit Skype and Facebook and started texting a college professor who bench presses buildings. Lost, I say, with empty streets. Lost in a concrete corridor of loneliness, with nary a DPW worker to close an intersection and jackhammer a hole into my sewer line.
Take a look at this. It’s the west side of downtown, New York St. at Senate Ave., 3:30pm on a workday. What tha?!
On the normally snug W. 16th St., even the vehicles are practicing social distancing:
During the organization of our self-quarantines and the issuing of edicts to work from home, eight Indiana counties – including Marion, Hancock, and Madison – issued a travel watch. Who’s watching us travel, you say? No silly, no one is watching you travel, unless your laptop is in your car. Then the answer is Google.
A travel watch is a guideline, just like so many guidelines issued by the CDC and other organizations at the state and federal level. According to the Indiana Dept. of Homeland Security, a travel watch means that “conditions are threatening to the safety of the public,” and “only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended.” The wording and the nature of the watch should alleviate the concerns of those who believe that using the streets and interstates is legally prohibited unless you have an emergency situation, or are going to restock on toilet paper (one in the same, really).
That’s just not the case. It is legal to drive wherever, whenever, as long as you’re traveling within the confines of the law.
I spoke with Indiana State Police Sergeant John Perrine, who’s always excellent at clarifying some of the more perplexing situations involving the law and travel. Here’s what I took from our conversation, in my own words.
-If you’re driving, Indiana State Police will not stop you all willy-nilly, and Indiana State Police are not looking for Sunday drivers. The police officer will not patrol with the attitude of, “HE’S NOT GROCERY SHOPPING I AM JUSTICE.” This is not Mega-City One; Judge Dredd is fiction. Remember, the travel watch is an advisory, not a law. You know, back to the whole guidelines and contain thing.
-If you are speeding, however, driving recklessly, camping in the fast lane, smoking a blunt, having a takeout menu for a license plate, or driving a vehicle that belongs to someone that isn’t you, then a traffic stop is warranted. During said traffic stop, the trooper may ask you, “where are you headed today,” or “why are you driving this stolen car?” These questions, assuredly, have nothing to do with a mythical government lock down or COVID-19, but more of a standard line of questioning issued to persons who are suspected of breaking the law.
-Again, a travel watch is just a guideline, but an important one. We do not want the virus to spread, so let’s try and keep cruising to a minimum.
EMPTY ROADS, EMPTY TRAFFIC HEARTS
Roads may be empty, but that’s not stopping us from driving like a teenager late to a super sweet sixteen party. Tailgating? Got it in spades:
On Hazel Dell in Fishers. Instead of just passing me in the left lane a driver decided to drive right behind me.
— Liz (@liz920) March 18, 2020
And drivers on I-465 are reaching speeds that are normally reserved for the smaller oval – the one in Speedway. As Missy so eloquently states:
Hey, I’m not the traffic whisperer, and I’m not going to tell you how to drive. You do you, but I’m asking you to please proceed with a little bit of restraint. Keep yourself and emergency personnel safe, and if you would, watch out for construction workers. INDOT has used this period of lighter traffic to drop some cones and do some maintenance. Let’s take it nice and easy through the maintenance zones. The fact is, rush hour drive time from downtown to I-465 is only six minutes. That’s a helluva number, and it should be good enough.