They’re called face flies. They look like house flies, to which they are closely related. True to their name, they kept landing on my face as I drove out of Texas.
Does NHTSA count that as distracted driving? I don’t think there’s a box on reporting forms for flies. The evidence tends to disappear as emergency responders cut open the wreck.
Similarly, if a driver crashes while looking back to the kid sitting behind him, that doesn’t count as a statistic saying kids should sit in front. But if a kid in front is hurt in a crash, that does count as a statistic saying kids should sit in back.
Authorities regulate what’s easy to measure and they don’t measure what they don’t want to regulate.
My car load of flies came from the prairie of the Texas Panhandle. I couldn’t get out of New Mexico fast enough. When I hit the state line going east on I-40 I decided to try an experiment.
I set the cruise control at the 75 mph speed limit on I-40 and watched traffic.
The big trucks seemed to be going 70. The rest of car traffic was going 80. I didn’t see a long tail of maniacs at the top of the speed distribution. I didn’t see crawling semi-trailers. I saw two popular speeds with me in the middle.
There is an observational bias: you don’t pass anybody who is going the same speed as you, so it’s easy to conclude nobody is going the same speed as you. I’m aware of it and tried to compensate. Near or far, I didn’t see cars keeping pace with me.
If Texas set the speed limit to 80 or 85 it would see a very high compliance rate, and there would be so few cars going well over the limit that police would be able to enforce the limit. (Not that I-40 needs a speed limit; politics demands one.)
But Texas is lowering speed limits as the people who raised them retire or lose power.
I also tried my experiment on two lane roads (a detour through Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, where my passengers boarded). Set cruise control just under the 70 mph speed limit and relax. The one police officer didn’t bother to use radar on me. It’s not like New York where State Police are out for blood.
Luckily those flies weren’t out for blood.
Those flies weren’t. When my road trip reaches North Dakota we’ll meet the stable fly.
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