“And if nothing else, remember that the biggest, ugliest vehicle ALWAYS has the right of way!”

Interstate 81 southbound at milepost 199

Thus is the rule for my commute to JMU up Interstate 81 for May session. The biggest, ugliest vehicle ALWAYS (emphasis on always) has the right of way. Since I live so close to JMU (about 30 minutes or so), people have asked me before why I lived on campus and didn’t commute from home. Up until now, I would give an answer based on assumptions. Now I can tell you exactly why from experience – Interstate 81 is a madhouse! For a two-lanes-per-direction freeway going through mountainous terrain, this is one dangerous road. It’s a major north-south corridor for truck traffic, as well as for travelers, and it shows. According to the Commonwealth of Virginia, part of the 20-year improvement plan for the roadways includes widening Interstate 81 to four lanes each direction, which I fully support. Give these trucks a little more room, and give the cars a little more room, and everyone’s happy, because I hate getting that feeling of closed-in-ness that comes with having a truck in front of me and behind me, plus one alongside me. Kinda makes you think that there’s only one way out, and that’s into the ditch. Not a pleasant feeling. Still, it goes to show you that the lessons you learned in elementary school are right. Yes, it’s true that one good vehicle plus one good vehicle equals two totaled vehicles when you put them together, but I’m talking about what you learned on the playground. The bigger, stronger, and usually uglier kid got the ball at recess, and beat you up for your lunch money with it. Translate that to the freeway, and there you have it. The guy with the bigger, stronger, and uglier vehicle has claims to that highway before you do, and prepare to fly headlights-first into the ditch if you try to get in his way.

Date posted: May 20, 2002