Friday, July 18, 2014

Driving Pet Peeves

My buddy sent me this article from USAToday. It inspired me to come up with my own driving pet peeves list. Enjoy...

1. Not using your turn signal.

Of course, with my last post, this had to be number one. Read more about it here.

2. People that are trying to turn onto the street I'm on, and sticking up to half of their car into the road.

Seriously, people, learn the parameters of the car you're driving. If you think you're in the way of oncoming traffic, you probably are. And if you started to turn, but then realized you couldn't make it, back the fuck up! I'm not looking to get t-boned by you. And I sure as hell ain't looking to swerve out of the way to avoid your stupid ass.

3. Leaving at least three car lengths in front of you when you're stuck in traffic.

Not sure if you think the car you're driving is way too precious to have anyone as much as breathe on it, but when you're leaving that much space in front of you, you're still holding up traffic. Imagine if everyone on the road did what you were doing. No one would get anywhere. Oh, you're on your phone and not paying attention? Great excuse. Inch up, buddy. No one will hit your car. I promise.

4. Passing me on the highway just in the nick of time.

You know you want to pass me, so how about not coming within inches of my car before doing so? I saw you coming from 500 feet away in my rear view and you've had plenty of time to get over. How about not scaring the bejeezus out of me?

5. Motorcycles.

We often hear "Share the road with motorcycles." Ten bucks says you can't find one person who feels this way. It's more like the other way around. Nine out of ten bikers on the road are weaving in and out of cars, switching lanes like crazy, narrowly avoiding the cars they should be sharing the road with. Act like a car and I'll treat you like one. And, by the way, the speed limit isn't meant to be doubled by motorcycles. Die in a fiery crash.

6. Slow out of the gate.

Presumably, you've been driving for more than a week, so you realize the general traffic light patterns. The left lanes have that special green light. Guess who's next to go? If you don't realize you're first in line in a heap of traffic, you're just a dickhead. If I'm counting to three before you step on the gas, expect to hear my horn, even if I'm five cars back.

7. Three-lane changers.

All too often do I see cars go from the left lane to the far right lane just to make an exit. This is's that word?....DANGEROUS. See also: INSANE.

8. The highway heroes.

Keeping with the multi-lane switching theme, there's always that guy that thinks he owns the road. That he's the only one on the road. Or just thinks he's Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He'll tail you, then pass you on the right, then make a three lane switch and be gone. You can see him coming from a mile away (literally). Please don't be that guy.

9. Left lane is for lazy.

Actually, the left lane is for passing. There's a reason these signs exist. And don't give me the Maryland excuse, where it's supposedly not for passing anymore than any other lane is. Get out of the left lane. Seriously. And the left lane is certainly not for trucks. Especially during rush hour. There's a concept called "keep it movin'." And when you're not part of the cycle of passing and then moving back over to let the next guy pass and move back over to let the next guy pass and move back over, then you're fucking up traffic. Yeah, you have that much power. You can always point out the reason traffic has slowed down when you know it shouldn't be slowed down. It's the slow/oblivious/lazy/texting/stupid/stubborn person in the left lane.

10. Right turn on red.

This was mentioned in the USAToday article by one of the guest commenters. It's also one of mine. Even worse than the driver that doesn't turn right on red is the driver that doesn't heed the quick honk....then the double honk....then the prolonged hooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnkkkkkkkkkk, realizing that it's a pretty good idea to get his head out of his ass that there are other people on the road and those honks are kinda sorta meant for you.

Honorable Mention

-Driving over the center line into my lane. If there was another you coming the other way, then there would be no yous at all. Simple math.

-Tinted windows on cars that limit the driver from making essential eye contact when at a three-/four-way stop sign.

-Driving with your high beams on when you shouldn't be - i.e., when you're coming right at me, especially after being given plenty of time and warning to turn your damn high beams off.

-Driving with your headlights off at night or in the rain and then not heeding the headlight flash warning I give you umpteen times. I hope you get pulled over.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Case for Turn Signals

Recently (and by "Recently", I mean "Every day") I was driving and found myself behind a car that was headed into the left-hand turning lane. I knew this only from my combined depth and width perception. It was obviously going a different direction than "straight". As I approached the car, I was greeted with a blinking light on its left rear side. What is that, you say? Oh, that's a turn signal? It's as if the driver was letting the world know, "Hey, I'm turning left!" - except it wasn't. It was more the driver proclaiming "Hey, I'm making this light flash because I probably should let you know, if you didn't already, that I'm about to veer off this road and head elsewhere." In this case (and by "this case" I suppose I mean "this case", although it applies about half the time, if not way less), I was far enough behind the car that I didn't need to brake or swerve suddenly. But other times - too many to count - it doesn't seem to be that way. It isn't that way. And it's annoying. And it's really, really dangerous. Here's why: Turn signals are exactly what they say: signals. They are not connected to the other functions of a vehicle and can be triggered with very little effort. Their effect on those driving behind (and to the side and in front, which I'll get to later) are pretty minimal in physical response, but extremely maximal in mental response and preparation. The turn signal tells drivers to prepare for something more. Prepare to brake. Prepare to give me time, as I may not be able to get out of your way to make my way off this road. Prepare to give me space, which could trigger a domino effect with other cars to follow. The turn signal is something so small and insignificant to the driver using it, but is something very substantial to those outside of your car's zone. Outside of your zone. Your safe place. Your head, even. It's telling the other drivers in the public system that we call "roads" that you are only a small part of but carry a big responsibility towards that there is something that is going to happen that we all need to be aware of. Now let's go back to this example, and by "example" I mean "every time someone misuses or completely ignores their turn signal". Unless you're Michael Knight or one of the Dukes of Hazard, it's a fact that drivers need to slow down to make a turn. What does this entail? Braking. Lowering your speed from what it once was. Well, guess what? Again, unless you're an 80s TV character, chances are you're driving at a pretty steady pace. If someone brakes in front of you without letting you know, i.e., signalling, well, that can be pretty difficult to discern if you're not able to predict where everyone else on the road is going. Sure, we pass intersections. Sure, we approach turning lanes. But I got news for you. The rules of thumb on the road that include "right of way" also presume that everyone is driving straight on the road they're on. This is where the turn signal comes in. Let's go through some simple scenarios and you tell me which one is ideal for everyone involved, shall we? 1. Hit the brake, then turn, then put on your signal. 2. Hit the brake, put on your signal, then turn 3. Signal, brake, turn. I'd say most people do number 2 on a regular basis. They equate the "turn signal" with "turning". I get it. It's in the name. Why do I need to let anyone know I'm about to turn until I do? Well, that's dumb. Let's go back to scenario 1 to further ridulous-ize this theory. Brake, turn, then signal? Really? You might as well punch me in the face while your apologizing. Hey, as long as you got it out there, we're good. Except, NO. The point of the signal is to prepare, y'all! Prepare us all to make way for you to leave our status quo driving situation. And in today's society, where everyone seems to want attention, shouldn't we be chomping at the bit to alert everyone of our intentions? Except we're not, because preparation is not in our DNA. It's something we have to work on. It's something that we always seem to realize is a great thing to do only in hindsight. Let alone preparing to prepare others to make preparations to prepare? Again, this goes back to society - especially today's society. There's so much going on in the world that we tend to bring it into our cars with us. We're texting, we're listening to music, we're listening to podcasts with our earbuds in despite having the privacy of our own cars to cancel out that need, we're looking at our GPS, reading something on our phones, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam, et cetera, e pluribus unum, etc. We barely have enough time for ourselves, let alone anyone else. But here's the thing - it's not our private road. Public, public, public. Sure, we have the freedom to go wherever we want, but so does everyone else. And I got news for you - there's always everyone else on the road. It's a turn signal, and that's what we learned it was called in driver's ed. Well, guess what? It's really a brake signal. It's something to tell those behind you that it's time to interrupt the constant speed you've attained and slow down for others. It's really a courtesy signal. It's something to tell those coming the opposite way that you're about to make a turn and they need to adjust their route accordingly, be it by slowing down themselves or even going onto the road you're coming from. It's a traffic signal. It allows for others to modify and adjust so that they can fill in the empty spaces and adapt to a new traffic flow. Sure, we may not consider others on the road. We may even be afraid to tell them "Hey, I'm committing to this maneuver". But these foibles have no place on the road if we all expect to rid our world of accidents and road rage (which cause more accidents). It's time to resurrect the turn signal to its fullest extent. Be proud to use it. Use it in excess, as it doesn't use up battery life and gas (to my knowledge). When you're in the public driving domain, you need to be aware of and courteous towards your fellow drivers. Allow them to prepare and make way and give space. Because you got things to do - whether in your car or most likely outside of it. Let's not make going to the auto repair man or the hospital one of those things.