Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We're Not Gonna Take It: Horrible Driving

I haven't written a "We're Not Gonna Take It" post in a while and my recent road trip to Maryland and back provided me with the perfect subject for this installment.  I have often said that my life would be much easier if everyone learned to drive from Father of Ken, but since many people seem to have learned to drive from people who have their heads up their you-know-whats, I will share Father of Ken's driving wisdom in the hope that they may learn to drive properly.

Let's begin with average driving around town.  Here are some simple rules to follow:

1.  Use turn signals.  They exist for a reason.  If you need help with this, see this diagram.

2.  Speed limits exist because the appropriate authorities have determined that it is safe to travel at a certain speed.  Unless you are driving in inclement weather or your car is about to blow up, at least drive the speed limit and no slower.  Most people are on the road because they are going somewhere and they don't build thirty minutes into their schedules to putter after you while you poke along.  On the other hand, please do not drive 20 mph over the speed limit and tailgate those who prefer not to get speeding tickets.

3.  The four way stop.  This is not as difficult as people make it out to be.  Here's how it works:  pull up, stop, see who else is there.  When those people have gone, it is your turn.  Do not attempt to go before it is your turn and for the love of God do not sit at the intersection at a dead stop staring at everyone else in terror until the sun goes down.

4.  If you wish to multitask in the car, please limit yourself to two tasks at a time.  Drive and talk on your phone, drive and smoke, drive and change the radio station, etc.  Do not attempt to drive, talk on the phone, smoke, change the radio station, paint your toenails, and balance your checkbook all at once.  Some of us value our lives.

Now, here are some pointers on highway driving.

1.  As you enter a highway, please do not pull out in front of someone who is already on the highway.  Wait two seconds for the person to pass and then pull out.  You are no more important than anyone else.  If you are attempting to merge onto a highway from an on ramp, please do not come to a dead stop at the end of the ramp unless it is absolutely necessary.  The whole point of the on ramp is to allow people to merge into traffic while accelerating so that no one has to come to a stop.

2.  Once you are on the highway, if it has more than a single lane in each direction, you cannot just randomly choose which lane to use.  The far right lane is for driving.  The left lanes are for passing.  Not that difficult.  Please do not drive slowly in the left lane when the right lane is completely clear.  When you have passed someone, move into the right lanes so that others may pass you if they wish to do so.  Part of the point of the interstate system, specifically, is to allow people to travel longer distances at consistently high speeds.  Generally, I should not have to brake on the interstate.  I should be able to set my cruise control and go.  Side note:  when the road is crowded, have some patience, people with lead feet.  If there is someone in front of me, I can't go any faster.  Tailgating me is not going to do anything but increase your chances of getting into an accident that will be your fault.  I promise to move into the right lane as soon as I can.

3.  Use signals when you merge.  Otherwise, how am I supposed to know where you want to go or what you are doing?  Once you have merged, though, turn the signal off.  

4.  Try to maintain a consistent speed.  It is so annoying and difficult to drive on a highway or interstate with someone who goes from 30 to 70 and keeps passing you, then slowing down, then passing again.  If you have cruise control, try it.  You might like it.

5.  Be kind to truck drivers.  These guys never did anything to you.  Understand that it takes them longer to slow down, speed up, etc.  Don't tailgate them.  Allow them some space when there is road construction.  Let them merge in front of you when everyone has to form a single lane.

6.  If you want to travel the country in an RV, practice driving it first!  The same goes for driving with a trailer.  No one wants to try to share the road with someone who doesn't know how to safely control a large and dangerous vehicle.

7.  Generally, try to remember that you aren't the only person on the road.  If highway or interstate driving makes you so uncomfortable that you end up driving 30 mph on a 65 mph highway with your turn signal on for half an hour after you have merged and slamming on your brakes repeatedly for no apparent reason, you might want to find another route.  Others have places to be and things to do.  Maybe if we could all be a little more respectful and follow the same set of rules, driving would be easier and less frustrating.

1 comment:

Leah said...

Also, if the power is out and the traffic lights are dead, for the love of all that is good and pure, treat the thing like a four-way stop! Don't try to run as many cars as you can through the intersection before the three other directions start honking at you. This is especially important if it is 1. busy and 2. raining.