I’m a nonconformist. I am not opposed to doing something different if the difference comes from a place of logic, efficiency, or common sense.
I don’t wear neckties because they serve no purpose other than acting as floral nooses.
I refuse to respond to anyone who has checked the restroom door, determined it to be locked, but then knocks on the door anyway.
Stupidity of this level should never be rewarded.
But there are times when doing something different is simply stupid, and New Jersey has cornered the market on this in two particular areas:
STUPID THING #1: You can’t pump your own gas in New Jersey.
This ban is a holdover from a 1949 law that was passed because lawmakers were worried that Americans didn’t know how to handle gasoline safely. Given that 48 states now allow their citizens to handle the pumping on their own and do it well, this myth has been effectively debunked.
The ban also offers no economically discernible benefit. While the ban admittedly creates low wage jobs, it also increases the cost of gasoline in the state by several cents, which is money that businesses could theoretically use to hire employees.
Also, on a recent stay in New Jersey, I noticed an unintended consequence of this ban:
Many of the gas stations in New Jersey are simply that:
Gas stations with an occasional garage attached. In states like Connecticut, where drivers exit their vehicles to pump gas, the gas station has grown into a small, well-appointed, well-lit grocery store, complete with clean restrooms, hot food options, and oftentimes restaurant franchises like Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway.
I went out for milk in NJ one night and ended up at a Stop & Shop because none of the gas stations that I passed had a convenience store attached.
Those people pumping gas in New Jersey could easily be the workers in these convenience stores, and the people of New Jersey could be getting their milk and Snickers bars a hell of a lot easier.
STUPID THING #2: You can’t make a left turn in New Jersey.
If you want to make a left turn in New Jersey and you’re on a major roadway, you’re out of luck. To take a left, you need to turn right onto something called a jughandle, which is an exit off the roadway that brings you above or below the opposite lane.
Think highway exit ramp but for a two lane road that would never have an exit ramp anywhere but New Jersey.
These jughandles theoretically reduce accidents. Studies have shown that they move cars efficiently in heavy traffic and reduce accidents that lead to death or serious injury by as much as 26 percent.
The problem is that these jughandles force motorists to spend more time on the roads overall, thus increasing their chances of an accident and wiping out any safety benefit they might offer.
This is because you often need to drive half a mile down the road, turn around at a jughandle, and drive half a mile back in order to stop at the store you just passed on the opposite side of the road five minutes ago. Do this often enough, and the additional time spent on the roadways adds up quickly.
For a state that has already artificially jacked up it’s gas price, forcing drivers to travel additional miles is ridiculous, and all the additional driving can’t be good for the environment or the roads or cars.
Also, many of New Jersey’s jughandles are now deteriorating, and repairing them is expensive and time consuming, because they are everywhere.
They are like dandelions.
Like I said, I’m not opposed to doing something differently if it’s logical or sensible.
Actually, I’m not opposed to doing something differently even if the result is neutral. No gain. No loss.
Being different is a good thing. A beautiful thing.
But New Jersey is being different to the detriment of everyone driving on its roadways.