Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Because We All Just Want to Get Home

Since I got to spend hours in a traffic jam on I-95 this past Sunday night rather than getting home from a weekend work trip in time to see my boys, it seems the appropriate time to talk a bit about my philosophy of driving--which I develop each morning and evening as I sit in commuter traffic. It starts with the premise that neither the terms offensive and defensive driving make sense to me. One sounds like a strategy for maniac drivers and the other for drivers who fear even being on the road as everyone else is, well, maniacs--neither of which I want on the road. No, the drivers I want on the road are drivers who are committed to working together so that we all reach our destinations as efficiently as possible. Consequently, I propose the following rules for "collaborative driving."

  1. If you are on the road, your primary responsibility is to drive. Your mouth is not required for driving--eating, talking, yes, but not driving--unless you are using it to encourage collaboration or enforce these rules.
  2. Figuring out where you are going should be accomplished prior to getting on the road--look up the address, check the map, plan the route, etc. before you get into the car--and please put the GPS away, it is making you stupid.
  3. Lanes are not created equal, but rather should be used for particular purposes.

    a. Appropriate uses for the right lane include driving an acceptable speed (although collaborative driving allows for right lane drivers to go somewhat slower); turning into your destination when you arrive (because you know where it is so you don't have to creep along looking for your destination--see rule 2); and, generally, for those weird live-in-the-moment people (more below).

    b. There is really only one appropriate use of the left lane--driving at full speed and full speed only. If you are driving along and look to your right and see you are going the same speed as the car next to you, and there is a car right on your ass, and the driver is using his or her mouth for one of the approved activities, you need to move over (this counts if there is more than two lanes). Really.

    c. Middle lanes should look as much like left lanes as possible--never like right lanes.

  4. Despite the fact, or perhaps because of the fact, that we have way too many signs, some are helpful and be attended to. For instance, "No Parking, Stopping, Standing at Any Time" does not mean it is okay to pull over quick while your friend runs in to talk to BFF for just one sec. And "No Left Turn" really means "don't even think about clogging up the left lane with an illegal left turn idiot!" See rules about lane uses.
  5. The small lever on the left side of your steering column is known by most drivers as your "signal indicator" or your "blinker." It is a useful tool that lets other drivers know what direction you are planning on turning. Please use it. And no, turning it on as you move into the intersection after you have been sitting at a traffic light for several minutes without it on does not count.
  6. If you are retired and fast cars and lots of traffic scare you, then please remember that you are retired and you can run your errands during the day and let those of us who only have a few precious hours at home each day to get there (otherwise, please abide by the rules regarding lane selection).
  7. Finally, for those of you who are just enjoying your time in the car because you are a "live-in-the-moment" type of person, congratulations, but do it in the right lane, or better yet a side street. In fact, why not just pull over and enjoy the moment out of the way and let those of us who are living for the destination get there so we can all be happy.
I feel confident that if we would all just abide by these simple rules for working together, we could all have a safer and more enjoyable commute. Now please, get out of my way!

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