Saturday, July 9, 2011

7 Circles of Hell on the Road

  I haven't left the house today, but I thought today would be a good time to go over some driving etiquette. I did try to outline these in order of importance, or rather, in order of absolute worst to really bad but not as bad as the previous one, but they're pretty much all terrible. They all are just as frustrating as all the others.
    Horrible Driver Type #1: Subaru drivers. Now, if you have a Subaru, I hope none of the following applies to you. If it does, stop doing some of this and maybe you'll set a good example for the others. Also, it's possible this rule only applies to drivers in Colorado or drivers here from California. In any case, Subaru drivers in my experience are the worst drivers for the following reasons. Subaru drivers almost never use their turn signals. They have a nasty habit of cutting people off, especially on highways. They drive way over the speed limit. And while these things are all dangerous and discourteous things to do in a car, worst of all, they ignore weather conditions entirely. All Wheel Drive does not make you invincible. If it's raining or snowing or icy, your car can just as easily go into a ditch or off the side of a mountain if you're not driving safely based on the road conditions.
    Horrible Driver Type #2: People who don't use turn signals. I don't care what you're doing, if you're supposed to use a turn signal, use it! Even if you're in a turn-only lane, and especially if you're in a lane that can go straight or turn, use the turn signal. There is nothing I hate more than someone who doesn't use their turn signal. Changing lanes? Signal first! And NOT while you're already cutting me off! You know what turn signals do? They help the other drivers around you know what you're thinking. Considering we can't hear each other and we're operating heavy machinery, simple mechanisms like the turn signal were invented so that the other drivers can better understand your intentions and act accordingly. You use your turn signal properly and aren't impatient and obnoxious about trying to merge into my lane, I will let you in.
    Horrible Driver Type #3: People who run red lights.This one is particularly upsetting when you're running late for something. And it seems like every time it happens, it's worse than the last time. Instead of one guy running his red light, and by consequence, through your green light, it's two guys, then three, then four! It's one thing for the really huge truck to run the light. He can't always help it if it's a short light. But why is saving your minute sitting at that red turn arrow more important than my ten seconds waiting for you to clear the intersection with my green light? Sure, a minute is longer than ten seconds, but is it really worth the risk of running that red light to possibly cause an accident that's going to delay you an hour, or more? Some people just step on the gas when the light turns green, whether someone's in the intersection or not. Not everyone is paying attention and not everyone is always going to slow down or wait for you to get out of their way. It's not just rude, it's dangerous, and illegal. Maybe nobody hit you today, but maybe the state trooper is waiting on the other side of the intersection to bust you for running the light. Which is more valuable, that 1 minute, or that 75 bucks?
    Horrible Driver Type #4: People who don't go the speed limit. This annoyance is twofold. There are the showoffs who like to drive way over the speed limit--aka pretty much anyone on I-25, and there are the slowpokes who think they need to go 10 to 15 miles under the speed limit. If you go too fast--you get busted, that's your problem, but don't weave in and out of traffic, and don't get bitchy if you get behind someone who isn't going 90. Use your turn signal, don't cut someone else off when you merge into the other lane, and go around them. If you're on a residential or city street and not the highway, don't speed period, but especially not in areas with high pedestrian traffic or school zones. Way uncool. Part two, if you can't see over the wheel, can't reach the pedals, aren't paying attention to the speed limit, are really intoxicated or stoned, or are trying to transport sensitive materials, and you feel this gives you the right to go 35 in a 50 MPH zone, you're wrong. If you need to go that slow, get off the highway. If you're driving while under the influence, you really shouldn't be driving anyway. You go slow, you'll get run over on I-25, but just because you're on a smaller highway doesn't make it ok to go that slow when the speed limit is that much higher. You can get a ticket for going too slow, remember that.
    Horrible Driver Type #5: Cell Phone Users. There's a reason this one is not number 1 on the list. It's because a lot of times, the reason people are doing the things mentioned above is because they're on a cell phone. I'm not going to harp on this one too much because everyone is going to talk on the phone anyway while they're driving because they think they do it safely. If you can use your turn signal, go the speed limit, not cut people off, and obey all the traffic laws, all while using a cell phone, without getting honked at or pulled over, then good for you. I use a headset or make it a very brief call, and I always wait until I'm at a stop light to dial the number. That said, don't text and drive. Just don't. Because of the keyboard thing now, you pretty much have to look at your phone to text, and looking at your phone while driving means you're not looking at the road. Don't kill someone with your car just because you had to LOL at that joke or tell someone you'll be there soon. You'll be there sooner if you don't die.
    Horrible Driver Type #6: People who cut you off. If you don't use your turn signal and you merge into my lane within 3 car lengths or fewer, I consider it cutting me off. And, I'm still going to think you're an asshole for not using your turn signal. I don't experience this one as often, putting it further down the list, but in high traffic and rush hour, this one goes through the roof. People can't stand that everyone else is moving and they're not, so they nose their way into another lane without due procedure. Number 1, USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL if you want to come over. Number 2, don't merge if you don't have room to do it so that the other person has to let you in. That's just a shitty thing to do. Number 3, if you don't have room to merge, but you do need to get over, use your turn signal and watch for someone to wave you over. They might. It happens. If you're nice about it, some people will let you in. On another note, once you've been waved at, wave back so they know you appreciate it.
    Horrible Driver Type #7: People who don't drive with regard for the road conditions. This doesn't happen every day either, but it's worth mentioning. Rain, snow, ice, gravel, grooved pavement, construction--there are plenty of things that can make road conditions more difficult to drive on. All wheel drive is not meant to make you drive like the road conditions are normal. It's meant to help your car regain its stability in unstable road conditions. It's raining cats and dogs? Go slower, AWD or not. Also, having AWD with all-season tires doesn't make that much difference from driving a 2 wheel drive car with snow tires in snow. Know your abilities as a driver, and know your car's abilities so when driving in unsafe road conditions, you can still drive safely.
    I'm aware that most of these were covered in #1, but I thought they all deserved a little more details, for those who do these things and don't drive Subarus. I'm not outlining all these things to complain for complaint's sake. These are not only dangerous things to do while operating a couple thousand pounds of machinery around many others who are doing the same, they are also just mean and inconsiderate. Maybe you never meet or talk to the people in the cars around you as you commute, but that doesn't mean they are not important or that you shouldn't give a shit about them. They are and you should. As fellow human beings, do your fellow drivers a favor and use your damn turn signal. We could all do each other a favor and try to be nicer driving around each other.
   You know what? I forgot to mention the inconsiderate bicyclists and pedestrians, but I guess they're not drivers, technically. In any case, know the rules of the road--bikes are vehicles and have to obey stop signs, stop lights and traffic signals just like cars do. And pedestrians, right of way or not, should be aware that not every driver is paying attention and could run them over if they're not careful. I think that's all. For now.
Life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind.

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