Friday, March 6, 2009

How To Drive

Today, I'm gonna steer clear of politics and the economy and the like, as I want to carefully structure my future posts to increase the clarity and effectiveness of my argument..

I declared my relative political naivete in my opening post, and I'm trying (I really really am!) to pour myself into it. I'm studying many different perspectives, and I encourage all to do the same. A good place for that would be my friend Eric Stein's blog. America was built on diversity of political perspective. We have many viewpoints, and most of us have the same desired end result. A prosperous America. (definitions of which certainly vary). No one I know, however, wants to live in a disastrous, failure of a country.

How To Drive a Car.

Look- I'm going to take it for granted that you know how to open the door, start the car, and actually make it move. Changing gears, braking, accelerating.. this is not what I will address. If you don't know those things.. well- this isn't for you.

I don't own a car. I walk and take public transportation most of the time, and I drive. I borrow my sister's car when necessary, or my girlfriend's truck, and I belong to Zipcar's car-sharing service. I drive much less than this time last year, but- I'm still on the roads enough to know what I'm talkin' about. These 'helpful tips' you'll read were once taught in public and private driver's education classes, but either are ignored, forgotten, or possibly, just plain aren't taught anymore. Many of these will be dismissed by the reader with a simple, "I know this stuff. Common sense!"

If you practice these, maybe you could help enlighten some other folks?

  • Your turn signal indicates to other drivers that you wish to move your car in a specific direction. NOT that you actually are moving in that direction. They can see that without your turn signal. I see many people trying to change lanes, looking for the opening in the mirror, turning their head, even muttering, 'C'monnnn, lemme in.. lemme in..' All the while, their hand is hovering on the turn signal lever. THEN, when the opening is there, they turn the signal on and move over. WTF? How does this make sense? Logically, the turn signal will create the opening. Don't expect the other drivers to read your mind, or see you strain and swerve to get in. Indicate your desire to move with your indicator. Used 'after the fact' when you're already moving to the space is gratuitous. If they can't see your entire vehicle moving into the lane in front of you, well then- a blinker won't fix that.
  • If you are not the fastest driver on the road, or are moving slower than the rest of traffic flow, stay out of the left lane. It is not for you. Drive in the right lanes, and when you come upon a driver slower than you, signal, then pass on the left. Once you've overcome the slower driver, return to the right lane in front of him and continue. Repeat. Don't be one of the sticklers in the left lane hollering, "the speed limit is 60, buddy!". Let the faster guy behind you pass. Don't force him to pass on the right. It's less safe to do so in left hand drive vehicles. If a driver comes up behind you in the left (fast) lane, don't be offended if he flashes his lights, as this is understood road etiquette to ask for you to move right. If they flash you, he or she is communicating. They understand there's no mind reading...
  • I see drivers get angry when merging drivers drive all the way up the merging lane to the very end, and then 'barge' their way in. Why is this? Probably the offended driver who is being 'intruded' upon merged into that lane far sooner than their offending counterpart, and has waited much longer to reach that merge area. (Thinking this is the right thing to do.) Usually, the reaction is to make it difficult for the driver who waited less time and drove to the end of the merging lane. This is just stupid. Why would traffic engineers design and construct a merging lane that wasn't intended to be used to the fullest? Do they allow an extra 500 feet that only assholes are supposed to use? People who block the merging lane trying to get in early and wait longer makes no sense at all, and it impedes traffic flow further. Use the whole merge lane. That's why it is there. Don't punish others for your stupidity.

Anyone have more 'tips' to add? I'd love to hear your 2 cents..

1 comment:

  1. Driving sucks!
    Here are some points to consider though. I agree with you on only one point here (that is point 2).
    Point to point, here are some thoughts:
    1. The turn signal is a sign of weakness. Using it prior actually making your move indicates that you are hesitant, tentative or otherwise lacking in the aggression necessary to survive on the open savanah that is the US Interstate Highway System (by the way, yet ANOTHER thing the United States government did a fucking awesome job at, by and large). In my experience, putting your turn signal on ahead of actually changing lanes is merely an incentive to get the motherfucker in the next lane to gun it - since he is too goddamned important for anyone to get in his way. This situation is endemic, by the way. No-one anywhere seems to think that anyone else belongs in front of them
    2. Regarding the right lane. Americans are functionally retarded. Most would shout "Timmy" periodically and inappropriately if only we all knew someone named Timmy.
    3. This is a case by case thing. I think that your point is valid in light traffic. However, if it's bumper to bumper and you jam up 500 extra feet to get to the end, fuck you, I'm putting your ass into the wall. There is a certain degree of courtesy involved in just merging in heavy traffic. What should be done in those situations (bumper to bumper ones) is that you should get in almost instantly since the rest of the people already on the road have been sitting there long enough to have earned a battlefield promotion. These raw recruits can't just pop on and expect to jump to the front of the line. In times of significant stress, this type of circumstance has lead me to contemplate shooting someone.

    Prior to moving down here, everybody said "man, Atl traffic is baaad". HAHAHAHA. This traffic is cake. I have driven quite a bit around this great land of ours and in my experience, LA is the worst, closely followed (tailgated, really) by D.C. Atlanta is pretty far down the list in my experience. Everybody says Boston is bad (I haven't been there), but people also seem to indicate that it's bad in a far more limited area than, say, D.C. or LA. I'll go there one day and make up my own mind.

    One thing, though, people in Atlanta do not understand the turn signal. Secondly, the young female left hand lane driving cell phone talking 61mph driver is grounds for justifiable homicide.