My #!*&@$ reflex

The "Drive Drunk, Get Nailed" campaign aims to stop drunk driving.

It’s been reported that the July 4th weekend is the most deadly on the highways, with alcohol being the biggest contributor. I think another big contributor is simple lack of attention to your surroundings.

I am not a perfect driver. I have made my share of errors on the highway, when I’ve missed a sign or totally did not see another vehicle. I’ve had a couple of accidents (one weather related, the other was never fully determined what happened). I repeat, I have made my mistakes.

That being said, I will also admit to having my own version of road rage. My family, thankfully, lets it roll off them. Heck, my husband often says he doesn’t need road rage any more. I do it for him! I think friends find it a little funny. In hindsight, I usually feel a little silly and embarrassed by my rants, but I seem to do it consistently.

See, my version of road rage consists generally of a string of curse words, a rant about what happened and an angry glare at the offending vehicle. I’m all bark and no bite. I talk a big talk, but even if I end up side-by-side with the offender, I will stop glaring and purse my lips staring straight ahead. I don’t do angry confrontation. It’s not worth it in the end. But boy do I rant a good rant in the confines of my truck!

The long and short of it is the fact that my rants come from a blatant disregard for other drivers and traffic rules. My biggest annoyances on the highway:

  • Yield signs mean to stop if there is on-coming traffic. Yield does NOT equal merge. It does not mean speed up and force your way into traffic. I have too many times watched vehicles blow through a yield sign and force another car out of their lane or even off the road completely.  Just today I had a guy blast through a yield sign, then immediately stop to make a right turn, almost causing a multi-car pile-up. I repeat YIELD DOES NOT MEAN MERGE.
  • If you are not going the speed limit, do NOT get in the far left lane. Many state’s drivering laws state that the left lane is for passing. Which means, basically, the left lane is the “fast lane” there for those going faster to easily pass those who are going slower. Open your eyes. Look in your rearview mirror (its there for more than checking your lipstick). Realize you are holding up traffic and move out of the lane. Too many times, I’ve watched someone enter the interstate, cut across four lanes, and camp out in the fast lane. Many times these people are going 5 – 10 below the speed limit, forcing those going the speed limit — or admittedly a little over — to have to go around them on the right, which generally ends up mixing up traffic in more than one lane and causing headaches for many other drivers.
  • Turn signals come standard on all vehicles. Use it. Love it. Live it. Realize the people around you are NOT psychic. They do NOT know you are going to turn. They do NOT know you are going to change lanes. They do NOT know you want to come over when traffic is backed up. Turn on a blinker and help people out. Believe it or not, this will even make for a more pleasant drive for YOU as well as for those around you. (Of course, I make this rant, but clearly remember a Nashville Metro Police Cruiser cut me off without using his blinker once while traveling down I-40 into town. I guess it COULD be argued that if the cops can’t even use a blinker, why should any one else. *sad face*)
  • Heads up. As I mentioned before, vehicles come with mirrors. They aren’t there for you to check yourself out. Use them to look around. Take a moment and look over your shoulder directly as well (especially when backing up!). Check extra hard for bicycles, motorcycles and pedestrians.
    • Vehicles have blind spots, and that I can understand. My truck has a couple monster blind spots, and my biggest fear these days is not noticing a vehicle running in my blind-spot and my changing lanes into them. Similarly, be aware of you yourself being in a person’s blind-spot. Just don’t do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had another vehicle pace me and camp out in my blind-spot. It’s stressful for the other driver, and it puts you in a bad place should there need to be any sort of sudden evasive maneuver by the other person. You’re flirting with danger.
    • Use your rearview mirror. Know whats coming up behind you. Its not weakness to let someone pass that’s going faster. You’re not “saving” them nor are you “teaching them a lesson” by holding them up. Let ’em go and let the police handle it. Chances are, once they DO get around you, they’re going to drive even MORE recklessly than if you’d just let them pass in the first place. Why cause yourself AND them the frustration and anger. Let ’em fly. (Besides, when YOU are late or maybe have an emergency, don’t you wish that other person would let you go?)  *This is also a big one when it comes to emergency vehicles! Know they are coming up on you and let them pass! Also, move over if you see one on the side of the road ahead of you. It’s the law.*
    • Use your side mirrors. Know what’s coming up beside you. Remember that blind spot I talked about? Not as big of an issue if you were aware of that vehicle in the first place. Either they were coming up on you, or you just passed them… either way, if you’re paying attention, the blind spot won’t matter as much. You’ll know there’s the possibility of a vehicle being beside you.
  • Slow down in residential areas. Turn your radio down, too. These are people’s homes. There are children playing here and could run out at any given moment. Maybe someone is down with a fever in bed and the last thing they need is your bass booming at them. Its called respect for those who live in the homes you are passing.
  • Actually, slow down in general. I used to be known for speeding. It was kind of a running joke with friends. Frankly, I’ve slowed down a lot through the years. Do I still push it some times? I do. Mostly in an attempt to just go the flow of traffic. But there’s still no excuse and something I admit to needing to work on more… speed limits exist for a reason. Even when the reason isn’t clear to us.
  • Stop signs. The person who stops first has the right-of-way. If two stop at the same time, the person on the right has the right-of-way. (Meaning, if the other car is on your left, YOU are the person to the right.) If two stop at the same time across from one another, and one person is making a left and the other going straight, the person going straight has the right-of-way.
  • Making a right turn does not mean you don’t have to stop at a red light or a stop sign. You still have to stop. Not just a rolling stop. A full stop. And look to see if anyone is coming. And if they are, and they have the right of way, don’t just assume, “Oh they’ll slow down for me” and pull out any way. Stop. Wait. Let them pass. Then go.
  • Don’t pass on a hill, in a curve or in a general no-passing zone. These solid lines on the highway are there for a reason. Passing in these places is like asking to not get there at all.
  • Truckers, Buses, and other large vehicles.
    • Car drivers, respect these guys. They go many miles in a day, and encounter more “bad drivers” than any of us could imagine. Don’t be one of their stresses. It’s not as easy for them to maneuver tight areas as it is for the rest of us on the high way. Don’t jump in front of them when they are trying to come to a stop, they have a heavy load and it takes longer for them to stop. Don’t sit in THEIR blind-spot. If you’re going to pass, PASS. Don’t just sit there, afraid to pass. Give them room to change lanes. They put their blinker on, let them in… don’t force them to do what they have to do and cut you or others off by not heeding their polite request.  Those thirty extra seconds in your drive just aren’t worth it.
    • Similarly, truck drivers, look out for vehicles and don’t tailgate us! I have literally had truck drivers put me into tears from fear, because they’ve ridden up on my back bumper so hard… and there was nothing I could do about it. I COULDN’T move over to let them pass. I COULDN’T speed up for them. I was totally  boxed in, and thought I was dead because all I saw in my rearview mirror was “Peterbilt.” Twice in one week (once to me, and once to my husband) we had a truck turn on his blinker the exact same instant he was already moving over… and we were already starting to pass. We were thankful for good brakes and quick reflexes, lest the trucks have clipped our front end and spun us out. Had they paused a moment, we both would have happily backed off and let them in safely. Just because sometimes people don’t let you in and you have to make a “rude” action, doesn’t mean there aren’t those drivers who will work with you.  You’re bigger than everyone else on the road… this comes with some responsibility as much as it comes with respect. Work with us and some of us will work with you.
  • Drunk driving. Texting while driving. Digging through your backseat and driving. Sleepy driving. Reading while driving. All these things make you less aware. You may have done in a million times without incident, but it doesn’t make it any more okay. You are no longer aware of what is going on around you. Pull over or just don’t get behind the wheel. Put your distracted state with drivers who have blinders on… and its a recipe for disaster. (There are countless videos available on the internet showing the consequences of distracted driving… like this one, this one and this one. They’ll make your stomach turn and tear your heart out. Some of these, I couldn’t even watch all the way through. You’ve been warned.)
  • Drive with confidence, not arrogance.
    • One of my biggest stresses, living in a city that thrives on tourism, is tourists. The people who forget that this city is somewhere people do live, and that slowing down at every intersection to read the sign is a huge cause of irritation. Or perhaps you realize your lane is a turn only lane and instead of attempting to merge safely (or making the turn and just finding somewhere to turn around and come back!) they just jump lanes and wave sheepishly in hopes their out of state plates give them an excuse. Drive with confidence even in a place where you are unfamiliar. You can almost always find a drive way or a parking lot to turn around if you miss your turn. Or, don’t be afraid to ask directions! Locals can often give you easy to find landmarks that will help you in your path. “It’s just past the Kroger on the right!” or “Look for the big pink house, and you know you are getting close.”
    • Arrogance does not equal confidence. Arrogant driving is when you refuse to “work with” other drivers. You refuse to let them over even if they have on their blinker. You think holding someone back is “for their own good” or you think a person making a turn into a drive way is in your way. You always have the right-of-way at intersections. You know better than anyone else on the roads. You think you never make a single mistake.

Like I said as I started this post, I am not a perfect driver. Lord knows I have done my share of dumb things — especially as a teenager when I thought I was invincible. Truth be told, I’ve broken one or more of these rants at some point; I’m sure I’ve cause my own share of road rage in others.

My aim here is simply to bring up traffic laws or ideas that I’ve seen over the course of the last several years broken time and time and time again. The things that I’ve discovered will trigger my #!&*@!#@$ reflex fastest.

Do you have any driver irritations not listed here? Please share them!

2 thoughts on “My #!*&@$ reflex”

  1. Hello, I saw your blog via I am Lotus.

    It’s funny that you write about the annoying things that other drivers do. My very first post on my new blog was about other drivers do to get under my skin. That was one year ago.

    My biggest pet peeve is when I am the only car coming down the road, no one behind me, in a no passing zone. Someone pulls out RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and then drives wayyyyyyy under the speed limit. Moseys along like they’re the only car on the road. If they had just waited a few seconds for me to pass, they could have pulled out and went as slow as they want without interfering with anyone, but nope, they just had to be in front of me. GRRRRRRRRRRRR

    1. Glad you stopped in! You are SO RIGHT!! In line with that, people who speed up to get ahead of you on the interstate, then change into your lane… and then slow down. WHAT is the point of that? Or, people who pass you on a two lane road only to make a turn less than a mile down the road, so you end up having to slow down — or even come to a complete stop — behind them. When they could have just hung out behind you for a minute or two and gotten there just as quickly.

      Ahhh… Yesss… another person with driving pet peeves. I like you already. LOL

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