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Questions For A Wise Driver

Updated on September 27, 2009

Are you a safe driver?

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Be A Safe Driver

Not until I got behind the wheel again did I remember how therapeutic driving can be. Unless you’re driving a bus load of people or a single talkative soul, even the shortest drive can be just enough time to check back in with yourself. When I’m driving, my mind tends to wander as my eyes remain glued to the road. I sort through the issues of the day and attempt to solve the problem of the week. For most of the ride, it’s relaxing and, when I arrive at my destination, I’m usually ready to take on anything with a smile. However, there are occurrences during every trip that force me to emit noises of anger, confusion and frustration. As they dumbfound me, I’m hoping that you, a wise reader, can help me understand the possible motivation behind drivers committing the following ten offenses.

  1. Is your directional/blinker/turn signal broken?
    We’ve all been in this situation. We’re driving on the highway and suddenly a car pulls up beside us. As their tires begin to tread into your lane, it’s clear that the driver either can’t control their car or is trying to get in front of you. Not wanting to get hit, you slow down so that they can pass you. The problem is they don’t take this opportunity to switch lanes. Deciding they probably didn’t realize what they were doing and in fact don’t want to switch lanes, you speed up again. Suddenly, their tires begin to inch into your lane. Instead of giving them a chance to take up more of your time, you speed up more and attempt to pass them. Unfortunately, they speed up too. Frustrated, you slow down and switch lanes so that you’re behind the driver. For another mile, you watch the driver do the same thing to the driver that was previously behind you. When the next exit appears, the driver in front of you finally switches lanes and you hear the brakes of the cars in the lane you were just in squeal followed by a loud bang. The driver in question zooms off of the highway, leaving an accident to be cleaned up. If he had used his directional to change lanes and had changed lanes at an appropriate time (when the exit is approaching not when it’s a speck in the rearview mirror) there wouldn’t have been an accident. However, it was apparently too much effort for such an unsafe, rude driver to exert.

    Though I’m not a perfect driver, I use my directional every time I’m going to switch lanes, take a turn, enter a highway, take a parking spot, etc. To me, using your directional should be done without question or fail. Yes, we’ve all had a day where our bodies were present, but our minds were on vacation. Still, using your directional is an easy way to make sure you stay safe and don’t get pulled over. In your opinion, why do you think people fail to use their directional/blinker/turn signal?
  2. Why are you slowing down?
    On a related note, it always makes me scratch my head when someone who has been driving closely behind me switches lanes only to cut in front of me and slow down. Though it annoys me, I can understand why people cut in front of me to go faster than my comfortable speed limit. However, in my opinion, it makes no sense that the same person who was practically hitting my bumper when I was going 60 mph sees no problem with dropping down to 50 mph when I am in the rear. Can someone please explain this to me?
  3. Would Jesus/your honor child/M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) want you to do that?
    It amazes me the number of times I’ve been cut off or nearly hit by drivers in cars with bumpers bearing the stickers “Safety First” “Jesus Is My Savior” “Baby On Board” “Drunk Driving Kills” and others of that nature. I always wonder if the owner of the car is having an exceptionally bad day or if the car has been stolen. To me, it just makes no sense. I mean why would someone who claims to value the opinion of a higher power and/or to be a model driver drive so recklessly? I am aware that even religious and socially conscious people get delayed and, in turn, need to rush. However, it just seems hypocritical to me that such people can honestly promote themselves as one thing when their actions portray them as entirely something else. Possible excuses?
  4. You used your brakes because…?
    Especially for the months following an unexpected roadside conversation with a police officer, I am a tremendously cautious driver. I brake for animals. I always stop so that pedestrians can cross. To the dismay of the drivers behind me, I slow down nearly to a stop as soon as a traffic light turns yellow. I go “right on red” only when the coast is truly clear. I’m sure I’m a pain in the butt to many drivers. Yet, all this having been said, there are few things in this world that are more frustrating than driving behind someone who slams on their brakes for no apparent reason. To me, these people are a major safety hazard and are asking to be hit. True, when you can see traffic building up in the distance you should slow down, but to come to a screeching halt is insane. Am I alone in this thinking or is there someone else out there who agrees with me?
  5. You are lost, yes?
    Having gotten lost many times, I pity other drivers who are in the same predicament. Getting lost is frustrating and, depending on the area, unsafe and scary. It is something we never want to be and usually go into panic mode when we are. Still, for the safety of others, it is a wise idea to move aside and let drivers pass you instead of nearly causing an accident with your unsure turns and frequent stops. When I get lost, I look for a well-lit area and pull off the road to either call for directions or to retrace my steps to the point where things went wrong. The way I figure things is that I’ll lose less time calling for directions than I would continuing to drive in the wrong direction. The next time you’re lost I suggest you do the same. Good idea?
  6. Its only snow, right?
    Living in New England, I have driven in all forms of weather both cautiously and like an overconfident fool. I have watched cars get towed out of snow banks and have prayed frantically as mine plowed into and over one. Through experience, I’ve come to realize that speed and bad weather don’t mix. This is why I’m always surprised when I see another car doing 80mph in weather that causes people to skid at 40mph. In my opinion, no destination is worth risking your life to get to. Clearly, other people disagree with me. Could you please help me understand this?
  7. Single line, please!
    At every on ramp you see cars trying to turn a single lane into a two lane. What I mean by this is that one car has been driving in the lane for the past few miles and suddenly, after the on ramp, there is a car driving next to them in the same lane trying to cut them off. Obviously, the second driver doesn’t want to enter the line in the middle where it belongs, but at the front where it believes it belongs. Instead of entering in the middle and switching lanes later on, they risk getting into an accident to have their own way right off the bat. It’s highly dangerous (not to mention incredibly rude), but I see it every single time I drive. The only explanation I can find for such behavior is arrogance and the belief that they own the road. How do you explain it?
  8. That would be me letting you in.
    On a related note, it is hard not to get frustrated when you’re trying to let a car pull off of the on ramp and into your lane. Looking at the driver, you know they are petrified and regret driving up that ramp. Unfortunately for them, they can’t switch into reverse. Their only choice is to drive to the next exit and get off there. Having been one of these drivers when I first got my license, I always try to be extra patient when I encounter one. Remembering that fear in my chest, I slow down and sweetly gesture for them to pull in front of me. While most of these drivers wave to thank me as they pull in, there are other drivers who remain frozen. Try as I might to give them more time, I need to think of my own safety and, at the risk of getting rear-ended, I need to speed up again and leave them at the entrance. Though I realize it’s often the only way to get from “point a” to “point b,” I’ll never understand why drivers who are afraid of the highway don’t seek another route. It would be safer for everyone if they did. Am I being too harsh on these drivers?
  9. You are beeping at a brick wall, sir.
    Don’t you love it when you’re in a traffic jam and a car behind you starts beeping their horn? I always wonder if they’re just being a jerk or if they naively think that their horn is magical and will tear down the wall of traffic so that cars may move. Admittedly, traffic is frustrating and people go insane in it. However, this whole beeping in traffic thing needs to stop. It makes no sense and makes you look like a big dope. On the other hand, I could be missing something. Does beeping your horn actually make a traffic jam clear up? If we all honked our horns at the same time would it make the jam disappear altogether? Hmm. I wonder…
  10. How did your car end up in that hole?
    Though I seem to be one of the few people who actually do it, like the signs order, I slow down when I’m driving through a construction zone. Not only do I do it because I don’t want to be given the fine the signs warn me of, but also because I don’t want to hit a construction vehicle or, in my haste, miss the sign that states that there is a large hole up ahead that I could drive into and drop to my death. I know it annoys the people behind me who want to drive at or above the speed limit through these areas, but it’s too much of a risk for me. One day when my cautiousness keeps you from landing tail up in a ditch I won’t require a “thank you.” The fact that you didn’t crash into my car and bring me down with you will be thanks enough. Am I alone in slowing down in construction areas?

Believe it or not, most car accidents are preventable. When you pay attention to the road, heed the speed limit, are courteous to other drivers and take the time to be able to take your time, your chances of becoming a statistic lower. Yes, life is unpredictable and the hours in the day go by far too fast. Still, your safety and the safety of your passengers and other drivers far out weighs the life complications that result from a missed appointment or a late check-in. I urge you to send me your comments and reasons as to why, as a driver, you do this or why you believe other drivers do that. I look forward to hearing from you. Safe travels!


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