Friday, December 21, 2012

Rules of the Road

I  was quite fortunate to grow up in a part of the country where the drivers followed the rules of the road primarily. I was also fortunate that both sides of my family have good drivers.

My dad taught me to steer the family truck before I could touch the pedals and when I could reach the pedals and see over the dashboard I started learning how to drive the family car out in the country. When I got older yet my dad took me out to empty parking lots in the rain, snow and ice so I could mess around and learn how the car handles on different conditions. Needless to say, I learned a lot, and I learned it well.

I was flattered in my college years by someone asking me to teach them how to drive so they could get a license. They actually paid me what a drivers ed school would cost, but got to take the "classes" on their own schedule. I was shocked at how different the drivers test was then from when I took it back when. They didn't even have to know how to parallel park to pass the driving exam.

So it's no wonder that while I'm driving around through various states that I run into drivers that are not just rude, but completely ignorant of how to drive correctly.

For instance;

It's called an acceleration ramp because you're supposed to use it to accelerate to a near speed of the traffic to merge into.  Granted not all acceleration ramps are sufficiently long, but do make the effort. And for Pete's sake, DON'T STOP AT THE END!!!  I've often wondered what's going through someone's mind when they stop at the end of an acceleration ramp that is supposed to merge into 60+ mph traffic. Because these people are never in a car that will do 0 to 60 in 0.4 seconds or less.

Then after I think about it, my brain eventually lands on the resulting conclusion that the driver doesn't know how to merge and thus must stop at the end of the acceleration ramp to wait for a big opening in traffic. Also, granted, many drivers that you must merge into don't know how to let you merge, still, the only way to merge is to just do it. And how does one merge exactly? Well, you match your speed to the traffic you into which you wish to merge (via the acceleration ramp) and then you turn on your turn signal (that topic is next) and then you merge one car behind the car that was previously merged in front. Poor wording...I apologize. It's just every other car. So whether you're merging or being merged  into, please follow the every other car rule, and also, please try to match the speed of those in which you're merging.

Now on to turn signals....  Does anyone besides truck drivers, know what the purpose of a turn signal is? NO, it is not to inform me that you just changed lanes. It's to inform me you'd LIKE or NEED to change lanes. It's not a guaranteed lane changer. It's a signal to everyone around what you wish to do and if everyone around is amenable than please go ahead and change lanes. Don't turn on your turn signal half way through the lane change. Don't turn on your turn signal after you've changed lanes for one or two clicks. And don't turn on your turn signal as you're changing lanes assuming that everyone around can accommodate you.

Speaking of lanes. Do you all know what the lane speed assignments are? I mean, do you know which lane is the slow lane and which lane is the passing lane? If you do, than I'm not convinced because you sure as hell rarely follow them. The RIGHT lane is the SLOW lane. You can also think of it as the DEFAULT lane. If you're not going around anyone than you should be in the right lane. If you're not turning left in the next half mile, you should be in the right lane. Period. Nope, period. If you cruise in the left lane you impede traffic. You make everyone behind you unhappy. You make everyone behind you frustrated. You also might make young people behind you learn bad habits, so quit cruising in the left lane damn it. I know sometimes you get out there to go around someone and they speed up and then you're driving the same speed. You don't want to drive faster or slower and it's not your fault the other driver fluctuated speed, but unless there's no one else anywhere near your tail, speed up or slow down and move over. If you don't and you're in a three or four lane highway than other cars will start trying to go around in the slow lanes which is begging for accidents. If just one person ignores the rules of the road, then everyone is affected.

One more driving concern to address; how far do you follow a car or stop behind it? I know when you're in the city and traffic is heavy and you don't like people cutting in front of you, you tailgate. Don't. You're not going to stop the people that want to cut anyway so don't tailgate the car in front of you. It adds to the danger on the road. And when you pull up behind a car to stop, please make sure you can see their back tires meet the ground. It's so unnerving when I look in my rear view mirror and all I can see are the TAIL lights of the car behind me. Seriously, if the car behind you rear ends you and you're too close to the car in front of you, now there are three or more people involved in the collision and not just two. And who wants that? So please allow enough room at appropriate speed between the car in front of you and yourself, and please stop behind me far enough I can see your HEAD lights.

That's enough drivers ed I think. I'll give it a rest. I only hope I can help someone take their driving more seriously through this post. I post this to help, to encourage, to educate, to provoke thought, to remind us ALL what it is to be a good driver and to inspire us all to be a better driver each time we get behind the wheel, myself included.