I like driving. This was obvious to anyone who knew me as long as I held a license. When someone brings up the concept of a road trip, I’m always the first to volunteer in the pilot’s seat, and the last to say it’s time to pick up a roadside hotel and pack it up for the night (or a few early mornings). From a minivan to 26 ft. Chassis Cab and everything in between, for means and tasks, call me if you need to drive; I’m your man – or at least I am.

I’ve been doing this job (more or less) for ten years. Like anyone who turns a hobby into a career, it’s often difficult to draw the line between volunteering and career. In the decade between getting my driver’s license and turning to automotive journalism, it’s easy to compartmentalize my driving. I’m either driving somewhere (e.g. class) or driving to have fun (e.g. skipping class). Today, things are murkier. I don’t commute, so if I drive it’s pretty much voluntary. But driving a news van isn’t always inherently enjoyable, nor can you always find a way to make it enjoyable. This is the closest you’ll get to me complaining about driving a free car, so take your screenshots if you can.

But while it might be convenient to log it off as work, my situation is all over the place. People all over the world are having less fun driving. Commutes are getting longer and longer. The suburbs are eating up all the back roads. People die behind (and in front of) the numbers in question. Why?Nobody’s painting the full picture yet, but it’s clear that COVID brings more than the worst exist we are also the worst of us. But even as we tell ourselves we’re largely out of the pandemic, the shift in driving habits it’s brought about looks set to persist.

If you had told us at the outset that the impact of the pandemic on commuting patterns would persist beyond the initial threat of COVID itself, many of us would have expected it. Earlier, the streets were deserted and idiots could do anything in places where traffic was usually forbidden. The shift to working from home has taken 15 million car commuters off the road. But tell me something: Is your commute really feeling less stressful?

Even driving purely for pleasure feels more like a chore as urban sprawls into our dwindling open spaces. 25 minutes of open road bliss lost in the trek to nowhere and back. As I headed back east to visit friends who never left our old places, I was appalled by the growing traffic jams. My main drag in high school still has the same 40 mph speed limit, but while we used to have to be careful to keep it above 10 mph, now if you have enough open space to do it, you I am very lucky 35.

But the strangling of relentless spread alone doesn’t explain why we all seem to be reaching boiling point at the same time. My limited psychoeducation (and probably should have skipped these classes less) didn’t delve into the nuances of shared social trauma. Have we just endured almost two years of partial isolation only to suddenly realize we didn’t like all these people in the first place? may be.

I can’t address the cause of our collective grievances, but I have a proven remedy for relieving symptoms: drive less. You will enjoy it more.

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