Driving in North Carolina
I learned how to drive with the Federal German Border Patrol (now Federal German Police) over 25 years ago. I drove years in Germany (the Country with very few speed limits) before coming to this country. States like West Virginia test your skills with lots of mountains and rough weather. Texans drive... like they have a purpose and places to go! Some of the long trips I took me through some rough territory and across some rough roads.
I have NEVER been run of the road or almost run into as many times as I have been in North Carolina!
Does & Don'ts
There are many rules that dictate how we drive; some given by State laws, some by laws of courtesy, common sense, maturity!
Here are some things I can think of:
- NC's BEST (or rather WORST) habit: DO NOT drive 50-55 on a highway with a 65 mph speed limit on the left-hand lane, IF THE RIGHT LANE IS COMPLETELY EMPTY and there is NO bad weather! There is no reason for it and it is incredibly rude!
> DO make use of the right lane(s) if it is clear. Some states have signs stating 'Slower Traffic Keep Right'. It should go without saying!
- When entering the highway, DO NOT slow down or stop when there is a bit more traffic. Cars could be coming up behind you speeding up to enter the highway correctly. Besides, you can't make it from 0 to the 65 mph the highway traffic is driving! It's not just rude, it is stupid and dangerous!
> DO use common sense. The correct way to enter a highway is to check the traffic from the begin/top of the ramp, use the ramp to pick up enough speed to match the speed on the highway and 'pick your spot'; and slide into an opening/the opening you picked. Some drivers will even make you room!
Most importantly: DO PAY ATTENTION! I can't tell you how many times I have seen drivers enter the highway and they didn't even notice there was already a car where they were going!
- IF you absolutaly have to use a cell phone, DO NOT forget you are driving! Or, more plainly stated, PAY ATTENTION! It's not just rude, it is stupid and dangerous!
-- Also: If you are one of those people that 'talk with their hands', DO NOT use a cellphone unless you have a hands-free device! Because if one hand is holding the phone and one hand is waving around, WHICH HAND IS HOLDING THE STEERING WHEEL?
> Only two solutions I can think of... DO get a hands-free device or DO STAY OFF THE PHONE!
- Weather is a big thing in North Carolina. It seems to make some bad drivers even worse! If another driver is entering the right lane of the highway via the ramp and you are on the left lane, DO NOT come to a complete stop in a 65 mph zone just because he is entering the highway! It's not just rude, it is stupid and dangerous!
> My recommendation would be to DO take the foot of the gas pedal and keep an eye on the driver, IF you feel he could possibly change lanes; especially if there is somebody in front of him. Cautions: YES! Panic: NO!
- Teen Driving Classes, Smart Teen Driving - Street Safe U.S.
Teen driving classes from StreetSafe U.S. Your best resource for smart teen driving, teen driving training, and hands on driving programs for teens.
And there is more...
- I can't say I was never guilty of texting while driving, but there is a time and a place! DO NOT text and drive while in heavy traffic or other possibly dangerous situations! And while texting while stopping for a traffic light may not be as dangerous, it is extremely rude to make the rest of us wait until you are paying attention again WHEN THE LIGHT IS NOW GREEN!
> DO simply use the speech mode on your phone, IF ABSOLUTALY necessary; or simply obey the law and don't do it while driving!
- Parking lots are the nightmare of any person owning a nicer car, but even people like me driving an old 90's truck like their vehicle and health. When you are parking in a parking lot, DO NOT back up without looking! Even if you do own the parking lot!
> DO park somewhere where you can see (I recommend not parking cars in between trucks/SUVs since they tend to block the view!) and back up with care.
- As stated before, weather can be a bit of an issue here in North Carolina. And while North Carolians are more used to rain, the heavy rain that makes you unable to see the hoot of your car can surprise you. But winter weather is even worse and one thing most North Carolinians have no experience with! If you are one of the less skilled drivers (you know who you are), please DO NOT drive in bad weather if you do not possess the skills to prevent harm to us or yourself! Going 20 in a 45 mph zone with your hazard lights on during medium rain does not make you less a safety hazard. It just makes you more ignorant, annoying and a hazard to those that lose their patience and try to get around you! Especially when you are, with typical North Carolina fashion, drive in the left-hand lane!
> DO consider asking more skilled drivers for a ride, take the bus/a cab/alternate transportation! It is a almost automatic thing to go down the highway during bad weather and see cars left or ride in the ditch or have to slow down for accidents!
Accident Statistics 2014
- Accidents happen, but while humanity seems to enjoy headlines, a accident is not your personal entertainment. DO NOT stop or slow down at the scene of an accident; especially not to record it with your I-Phone! It is not only beyond rude and disrespectful towards those that are hurt or dead, it is DANGEROUS!
> DO slow down to allow emergency personnel to operate safely (or to help if you are the first on scene), but keep the fame for the good things you do! Or for the Stephen King movies!
- When you yourself break down, DO NOT leave your vehicle parked over a foot into the left hand lane of a 65 mph zone on a busy highway! It may be hard to get your vehicle out of the mutt later, but you prevent somebody from hitting it and damaging it further; or getting hurt!
> DO push your vehicle at least far enough off the road to have a 3-4 foot clearance to the highway. It may safe your mirror or worse!
- When following a tractor trailer aka semi-truck aka 18 Wheeler DO NOT, for the lack of better words, 'ride his rear'! He can't see you, you can't stop; and the rocks he may 'kick up' may also damage your windshield. Besides, the draft behind the truck is NOT comfortable driving and during rain you will end up with a ton of extra water on your windshield!
It's actually quite simple: If it comes to 42 ton 18 Wheeler vs 6 ton truck or 2 ton car... YOU LOSE!
Simple Rule: If you can't see the driver in his mirrors, he/she can't see you!
> DO stay at a safe distance from the truck. In Germany we used the white polls on the side of the roads/highway (50 meters for bush roads, 100 meters for the Autobahn). I use 100 meters or 3 cars' lentgh. You will be able to stop rather than hit the truck, you won't get the draft/water/rocks from the truck and you will be able to see what's coming. I always advice my children to keep an eye on the first three cars right in front of them when driving in heavy traffic.
- And my favorite one: If you know you are one of those... less skillful drivers, PLEASE DO NOT attempt to teach your children! Not trying to be rude, but a motor vehicle is a potential weapon that can kill!
> DO enlist a friend or family member that has the skills to teach your child right! Not only for the sake of others around you and your child, but to keep your own child SAFE!
Snow Going: Winter Driving Tips
It's not Rocket Science
I blame part of it on the lack of training that most drivers receive! Most, if their school still has the program, have to spend some time in the classroom and then share about ...4 hours with three other drives. My test for the WV driver license was a written test and 15 min of driving with a tester! I drove once around the block, stopped at a railroad crossing and a stop sign and parked paralell. And all that for $10. After that they send you on the road with parents or other 'responsible' drivers.
As a German Police Officer our written tests were the normal one Civilians endure plus an additional one with another 100+ questions (~300 total). In addition we had the normal 20-40 hours of instruction; to include 4 hrs highway and 4 hrs night-time driving! The test lasted at least 1 hour and included multiple parking situations, heavy city traffic driving, highway driving, and other uncommon driving situations. A German driver license costs over $1,000, but all the training is done by trained and certified professionals!
When I was talking to one of our officers about my teenage drivers (I always thank them when they take a drunk driver of the road that could have endangered one of my children!), he recommended a local Safe Driving program for Teenagers. I made my younger son go!
Not only was he one of the only ones there voluntarily and not by court order for some SERIOUS traffic infractions, but the seriousness of the traffic charges astonished me! One survived one hell of an accident by ...a prayer?!
I took three things away from the parent portion of that class:
- Your average car insurance will not cover the possible damage you or your child can cause. Ask your local hospital how much they charge for the ER per hour and you understand!
- As long as your child holds that permit, YOU are the responsible party that could be charged too! North Carolina has a statute for a drunk parent that is driven by a child only holding a permit!!!
- A vehicle is a weapon! And you as the driver can be charged in a similar fashion as a person pulling the drigger of a gun!
I taught my children! But I was a Air Force trained and certified Vehicle Instructor! And still... I am NOT perfect! I still learn every day! But I feel much better about my children out there driving, because I taught them what was taught to me by multiple trained and certified instructors! I just sleep better that way!
Take driving seriously! It's not just you out there! It's not a shopping car that may cause a scratch to a parked car! It's a thousands of pounds of steel, plastic, rubber, else object in motion! It kills!
If you are less skilled, driving is like learning how to golf: YOU CAN learn it! But YOU have to seek a good instructor to teach you!
Think about the people out there you are endangering with your lack of skills or lack of care! It can be your own child that will pay the price for the mistakes you make!
Will your child be safe out there?!