Monday, March 12, 2007

On the road

It's amazing there's not more road rage than is reported.

My daughter asked me what bothers me the most about how people drive. If you think about it, it usually boils down to people being inconsiderate to each other. NONconsiderate might be a better word People are sometimes inconsiderate; that is, they go about their way, forcibly, in spite of the needs and wants of others. More often, it seems, people go about their business completely oblivious to the needs of, in fact, the very existence of, other people around them. If not for that, if drivers were intentionally courteous to each other, the roads would be a lot better, safer, and more easily navigated.

My friend Mark pointed out the difference between 'skunked' and 'snaked' once. 'Snaked' is an aggressive maneuver that gets you in front of the other guy without making him avoid you by braking or steering away. Sure, the guy might perceive that you 'cut him off' or something like that, but in reality, you got in and never really got in his way. 'Skunking' him, however, is a different animal. That's pretty much making the other fellow avoid you by using his brake or steering out of your way.

I admit that I am an aggressive driver. I am fast but I am careful. I slow down when the roads are wet. I change lanes and go fast, but I never get in your way. I will wait for my turn at the intersection. I clean ALL of the snow and ice off of my vehicle before I drive away. I always signal well in advance of my turn, giving you plenty of warning - should you choose to be observant enough to see it. I make my right turn into the right lane, and my left turn into the left lane, as I'm supposed to, leaving you the other lane to use. I recognize drivers attempting to parallel park, and leave them room to do so. The only way I've discovered to leave room enough for me to parallel park is to move abruptly, pointing my nose toward the middle of the street, stopping quickly with my signal on, signaling the driver behind me by making him say, 'whoa! What's this guy doing?" Otherwise, he's on my tail, waiting for me to move forward.

I sometimes wave a pedestrian across a busy street, placing my vehicle in the way of other cars that do not want to wait to pass through. I always wear my seat belt, and I insist that every one of my passengers do the same.

I park my car well between the marked lines in the parking lot. Do you? So many times I see cars parked haphazardly in spots in a lot, that I wonder if that's as well as the drivers can park, or if they simply don't care about anyone else. I mean, backing up and straightening out one more time couldn't take that much time or effort, could it? Or do they truly not notice?

Again, I admit that I'm aggressive behind the wheel, but if we're entering the same narrow passage from opposite directions, I'll pull over to let you by if you're nearer the bottleneck. But I expect you to do the same. More often than not, you just barrel through, expecting me to get out of your way.

You don't really need to sit in the left lane going the speed limit unless you're the Highway Patrol. It goes like this: right lane, exit and entry and slow-moving vehicles. The middle lane is meant for highway speeds. The left lane is properly used for passing.

My wife tells me I complain too much behind the wheel; that I shouldn't take these insults personally. I can't help it - it feels personal. I point out all these offenses to her, all day long, and she tells me to laugh it off. I probably should. I'll live longer.

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