July 26, 2005

Hey! Fritz is back!

And has a good post on speed limits.

I am one of those folks who occasionally travel at a more rapid clip than is strictly legal, but I agree wholeheartedly with Fritz on the issue of folks who not only speed, but do so in a reckless manner. There is a difference between driving fast, and driving quickly. It is quite possible to drive faster than the statutory limits (recognizing that doing so is illegal) but without undue danger to your fellow motorists.

First of all, understand your surroundings--look at the overall flow of traffic, not just that right in front of you. If it's 5:15 p.m., it's a pretty good bet the traffic's going to be heavy, and your constant weaving in and out of the rolling chicanes isn't going to get you anywhere any quicker.

Second, look ahead. WAY ahead. I get so tired of people who whip out to pass as soon as they can get by, and then boil down the road and slam on their brakes because they got blocked by someone I could plainly see was moving over. It's very difficult to calmly drive past those types of drivers without pointing and laughing.

Third, sit down, shut up, and drive. Or, pay attention to the task at hand, namely, guiding a large, fast-moving heavy metal object whose only anchorage to terra firma is by a square foot of rubber friction material. Cars are so incredibly capable nowadays that people think they can handle any situation, regardless of what they might be doing at the time. Reading the paper, putting on makeup, sleeping--folks, if you HAVE to do that stuff, take the bus or hire someone to haul your distracted butt around. But don't think that because you have ABS and traction control and air bags that you're invulnerable.

Fourth--I'm in a hurry, too. I promise you, I really am not just out for a Sunday drive. But, be patient and allow the traffic rules to work. Again, look around and way ahead--when you can see that the left lane is indeed working as designed, that is, as a passing lane or through lane--DON'T CUT ME OFF WHEN I TRY TO MOVE TO THE RIGHT AND LET YOU PASS. Just give me a second or two to make sure it's safe for me to move over AND I WILL LET YOU GO PAST. I cannot STAND people who do this--do you really think you're such a hotshot driver, Bub? This AIN'T MARTINSVILLE! Let the traffic flow, and let me get over and out of your way, and THEN you can pass.

Fifth--back off. That whole two second rule deal is pretty good. Leave some space between me and you, so that you don't have to buy yourself a new front bumper, and you don't have to spend several thousand dollars repairing the back end of an old Volvo that's not worth several hundred dollars. I usually have pretty good luck, at least in the evenings, of getting folks to back off by turning on my lights. The sudden appearance of taillights occasionally gets morons to back off, and when they realize you're not trying to jerk them around by tapping the brakes, they don't get quite so inflamed. And it also means you don't have to slow down by putting on the brakes. One trick I intend to use when I get the chance is my car's rear fog lamps. Didn't realize it had them until here lately, but basically it's an auxiliary set of red taillamps controlled by a dashboard switch. Supposed to make the rear end of your car more visible in fog, but also probably pretty good for baiting tailgaters.

Anyway, if you have someplace to go, don't drive too fast--drive quickly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at July 26, 2005 10:45 AM

I appreciate any and all safe driving tips. My "middle baby" is making her first solo trip into town today, and it is a VERY long half hour for this mama!

Posted by: Kathy at July 26, 2005 11:56 AM

Best wishes to BOTH of you! I really need to get our oldest baby back out on the road for some more practice, but there's been not much in the way of spare time.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 26, 2005 12:00 PM

Just finished my 2000 mile round trip to Austin, Texas. I think I saw every lame-brained driving act possible including my favorite, using the left turn lane as a passing lane.

Coming across Mississippi, I followed an SUV for a couple of miles waiting for it to move to the right lane so I could pass. As soon as I moved to the right lane and started to pass, she sped up, pulled in front of me and slowed down. I really had no interest in how fast she was going only that she not block my progress.

It took a couple of miles and finally getting up to 80 to get around her. Apparently she was offended that a mere sedan would pass her Lexus SUV.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at July 26, 2005 12:20 PM

How DARE you have the temerity to try such a stunt when the road obviously belonged to HER! HMPH!

The ones I really hate are the folks who hang off the left rear, not passing you, until YOU need to pass. The moment it looks like you might pull over into the left lane, they floorboard it to keep you from getting in front of them. Grr.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 26, 2005 12:51 PM

I have always not been able to understand (stupid me) why people think driving is a competition or why they feel like they should impede others' progress. Who cares if another car gets to where it is going faster than you? The overwhelming majority of cars that jeopardize driving safety on I-65 South after work have tags starting with the number 58. Well, BOOHOO!!! If you don't like your drive, then MOVE, instead of causing others to have accidents.

Posted by: sugarmama at July 26, 2005 01:12 PM

I think of it as something of a competition, but against myself--I try to drive with as few motions as possible. I don't like all the herky-jerky back and forth, especially if I can get where I'm going faster without it.

I second your observation about those 58 type people. They are second to very few--63 and 64 come to mind, and 67s are usually very bad. 8s seem to be getting more prevalent. But the worst by far still seem to come through from the Atlanta metro area.

(For those who wonder what the numbers are, go here.)

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 26, 2005 01:28 PM

Best (Worst?) Stupid Move I ever saw, and the one that caused friend & I to categorize such things, happened on I-4 somewhere near Orlando.

Knucklehead in a Trans Am is attempting to make a U-Turn via the grass median from Northbound to southbound lanes. Clearly the concept of going on the next exit & turning around didn't occur to him.

Posted by: skinnydan at July 26, 2005 03:30 PM

Around here, the medians are so full of furrows and ditches and debris (cleverly hidden underneath a tall cover of wildflowers, aka weeds) that you're taking your life in your hands if you cross over on impulse. Not to mention that's illegal, too.

I do have to say, with some shame, that I get a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling all over when some hotshot gets high-centered trying this maneuver.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 26, 2005 04:03 PM

Thank goodness I only have to drive in to work 3 days a week. The drive keeps getting worse. Those people are so thoughtless! Hey, I'm sure 5 seconds of your time is worth endangering my life, but, you know, you could hurt YOURSELF in the process.

Posted by: Lenise at July 26, 2005 07:16 PM

That's the thing that bothers me, too, Lenise--folks who can't seem to understand if they cause me to wreck, THEY might get hurt or killed, too. I think it goes back to that thing about people feeling invulnerable--great big car or SUV, but iwth air bags, ABS, traction control, they are so much easier to drive than big old cars used to be. The higher levels of control make it easier to drive more aggressively, if someone wants to. Even though they might not have any idea what will occur once they go over the limits of handling.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at July 27, 2005 09:58 AM