Okay. I’ve posted about some of this before, but considering some of the really horrible things I’ve seen lately, I think it’s time for a revisit. Please note, this pertains to American drivers, so my lovely readers across the pond, this isn’t for you.
I’ve thought of different ways of doing this, but I think a list is best. So, onward…
- Brights. For those of you unaware, you have two sets of headlights on your car. Most modern cars have a green indicator when the regular headlights are on. Cars as far back as I remember (sometime in the 80s at least) have a blue indicator on the dash when your brights are on. Brights are great, don’t get me wrong. But there is a time and a place. All the time and everywhere is not it. If you are in traffic they should not be on. If you are on the highway they probably shouldn’t be on (some exceptions for late at night with no other traffic). If there is anyone coming towards you (even if it’s a divided highway), they should not be on. If there is anyone in front of you, they should not be on. Even during the day or dawn/dusk, they should not be on. Even if you are missing a headlight, they should not be on. You should be at your auto parts store of choice buying a new one. Helpful hint? You can get pulled over just as much for using your brights as you can be for missing a headlight, but you are more likely to get a ticket for the brights (it’s a hazard after all), whereas for a missing headlight, you’re going to be given a verbal, maybe written warning and told to get it fixed. Another helpful hint? A lot of auto parts stores will put in the headlight for you free of charge just for buying the needed light.
- Speaking of headlights. Please make sure you get yours aimed properly. Most car owner manuals have the instructions. It’s not difficult, but if it’s not something you want to handle yourself, ask a friend with a flat driveway for a hand.
- Turn signals. For the love of all that is sacred to you, use them. They can save lives. Or at least my blood pressure and stop me from questioning if you have the intelligence to tie your own shoes. Even if you’re doing one of those fancy turn left, then immediately turn right maneuvers, use your turn signals. You might find people honk and make less rude gestures at you.
- Speaking of turns. The order is as follows: turn on signal, move into turn lane (where available), then apply brakes. (Obviously if you are somewhere there is no turn lane, signal first, brake second). Again, this order of moves will save a lot of horn honking and rude gestures.
- Closely related, merging. I have several points on this. First though, as this just happened several times lately, if you are in the lane that is ending you do NOT have the right of way. Period. You were warned the lane was ending. You had time to prepare. It was not a challenge to try to get ahead of as many cars as possible and try to take out the lady in the small SUV with her kids in the car, who after honking at you certainly did not deserve the overly enthusiastic double handed rude gestures that nearly sent you into oncoming traffic. Especially since there was no one behind aforementioned lady. But, as I said, the people in the lane that is continuing have the right of way, and so don’t be a jerk. Also, look up and learn “alternate merge” when done correctly it’s a lovely thing that looks kind of like a zipper with people taking turns and playing nicely.
- Oh, and short point. Just because you drive a really big pick up truck or SUV, you don’t automatically get the right of way. Big vehicle (not talking about 18 wheelers here, those guys do get some concessions), does not mean you are the king or queen of the road.
- Another point on merging. When you are preparing to do so onto something like, oh say, a highway, doing your best to get to the speed of the highway is pretty important. That whole alternate merging thing I mentioned is MUCH easier if you are going the speed of the traffic you are trying to merge with.
- Parking lots. We have discussed these before. The point I want to make today though, is that most parking lots have rows that are one way. The parking lot painting people do this handy thing of painting arrows indicating which direction that one way is. It blows my mind how many people I see on a weekly basis that are unable to follow such a simple thing. If the arrow is pointing at you, you’re going the wrong way. If people are driving towards you, and the arrow is pointing at you, a small indication of “oops sorry” would be MUCH nicer than rude gestures.
- Light bulbs… so I’ve mentioned not using your brights to hide a broken headlight. I’ve mentioned turn signals. Please, please please please, check your lights regularly. If you have a turn signal that’s blinking like it had too much coffee, you have a light bulb out. Have someone step on your break pedal (or find a heavy book) and check your tail lights. Again, it’s much safer for you and everybody else if you make sure they are all working.
- Last but not least. Patience. I know we are all in a hurry, we all have some where to be, someone to see, appointments to make, kids to pick up or drop off, really, we all do. It would be kind of silly to be on the road if we didn’t. Accidents, forcing yourself into lanes because you were trying to get ahead, etc, etc, etc, a lot of which would be avoided if you would just have a little patience.