photo © 2010 Patrick Feller | more info (via: Wylio)
Some days I just need to rant, and today is one of those days. Today, I’m addressing a non-personal finance topic in hopes of bringing sanity to another part of your everyday life — driving. The following list may or may not be applicable to you, but the more people that read this and integrate just a small portion of what is said into their lives, the better our society (and the time I spend in the car) will be, and the less likely you’ll be to end up on Faces of Death. With that I give you my list of definitions, tips, and peeves. As always your comments are welcome!
1. Turn Signals – There is a plastic stick looking device on your steering column. It frequently operates things like your headlights or your windshield wipers. It also serves as a turn signal. The name is complicated I know, but essentially the turn signal allows you to signal to other drivers when you are going to make a turn or a lane change. It’s an incredible communication tool for when the other drivers and I are unable to read your mind when you realize you’re in the passing lane and your exit is in a half mile so you dive across 3 lanes of traffic at 70mph. Turn signals are not optional. It is illegal to change lanes or make a turn without using them. Turn signals, USE THEM!
2. Accidents – Accidents happen everyday on our highways. Unless you are EMS personnel, a police officer, or a firefighter, there’s no need to stare at the accident. If you need to gaze at real life death and dismemberment, rent Faces of Death or pull over and let the rest of us drive. Onlooker delays are incredibly inefficient and put others at risk.
3. Cell Phones – Look, everyone knows that texting or talking on a cell is a distraction. You endanger the lives of everyone around you when you do it, and of course Oprah will hate you forever. However, all I ask is that you get in the right lane. The same goes for lip gloss appliers, face shavers, and tie tyers. Oh, and it’s not the 80’s, no need to gangster lean when talking on the cell phone while driving – we all have them now, it’s not a status symbol, unless of course you still have one from the 80’s which would be awesome.
4. Traffic Lights – Imagine 2 lanes of cars at a traffic light that is red. The light turns green. Now imagine if everyone in the right lane let their foot off of the break when the light turned to green regardless of where they are in the queue. All of the cars in this lane virtually simultaneously begin safely and slowly creeping forward and can accelerate. Imagine the efficiency in this. How many more cars would make it through the light? How many inattentive fender benders would be avoided. Again, the more people that adopt this strategy, the better off we all are.
5. Cops – First, braking on a divided highway because you saw a cop’s blue lights on the other side is moronic. I promise they won’t jump the divider to stop you. Second, by the time you see a cop he’s already seen you – I promise – the technology in his cruiser is way better than your eyesight (which thinks every break in the trees hides an officer of the law) or your 1990’s radar detector. No need to slam on brakes. Take your medicine. (As a side note – a ticket for following too closely is MORE expensive than a typical speeding ticket, unless it’s reckless, then you’re @#$%). Third, a DOT vehicle is not a cop. They don’t give a rats ass if you’re speeding. They’re just waiting until their shift is over.
6. Turning/Merging Lanes – These lanes are specially designed for deceleration and acceleration. Thus, when occupying one of these lanes, you should be doing one of these activities. Note that I said when you are IN the lane, not 500 ft. before and not when you’re halfway in the lane. Braking before entering turn lane or merging off the highway is really annoying. There is not an intersection in these United States that has a stop sign or light 10 feet from the interstate. Additionally, if you know you’re going to be turning in 500 feet, get in the proper lane beforehand – the intersection location probably won’t change just for you. Finally, pulling out in front of me onto the highway from a stop sign with no sense of urgency whatsoever when you could have waited 3 seconds longer and had an open road with no cars behind me is just mean.
7. Passing – First, if there are 10 cars in front of you in the left lane of the interstate, traffic is probably pretty bad, jumping up one car then slamming on you brakes and swerving in front of me is not going to get you there any faster. Second, if you are behind someone slow, getting on their bumper doesn’t make them go faster. It’s not Nascar, and I swear you’re not going to get grandma loose going into the corner. Third, if I pass you on the highway, it’s not an affront to your manhood, I don’t dislike you, and I’m not asking for a drag race – no need to speed up to stay with me, Dale Jr. Fourth, unless your lights are blue, red or alternate flashing, I’m not slamming on brakes, pulling over or cutting someone off just so you can pass me. Stop flashing them. I’ll get over when I can. Fifth, if you’re on the interstate and you just got passed on the left and the right side, you are in the WRONG lane – move to the right please (using your turn signal of course)
8. Vanity Plates – These basically confirm for me that you have disposable income that you wold rather resource towards making cryptological number letter sequences than giving to a local charity. Yup, pretty vain. That, and you couldn’t find a bumper sticker with your witty thought.
9. Bicyclists – These guys have a right to a piece of the road (unless there’s a bike lane). Unless you really enjoy staring at a tightly wrapped spandex butt, I encourage you to pass as quickly and safely as possible so we can all go on with our day and the bike rider doesn’t feel like he’s being stalked. If you don’t feel like you can safely navigate this situation, please turn in your license at your local DMV. I will thank you and so will all the bicyclists you won’t be killing.
10. Litterbugs – I can’t stand you. There is a special place in hell for you that involves large-mouthed Mt. Dew bottles filled with urine and cigarette butts. If I see you throw something out the window, I will take your license plate down, and I will report you to the highway patrol. The nice thing about that in NC is we have the Swat-A-Litterbug campaign where you can input the data into a nice little web form, and the highway patrol sends the driver a nastygram detailing the infraction, the laws in our state, and the associated fines. The self-satisfaction I get every time I’m able to report someone is only diminished by the fact that I know behavior change for such individuals is less likely than my chances with Natalie Portman. *sigh*