Monday, September 26, 2016
An Open Letter to the Bad Drivers of the World
~Disclaimer before I begin dishing on bad driving: Talking about driving does not come easy to me. I do not consider myself the best driver out there. I also do not enjoy swinging judgments around as if I were the perfect one! So, taking these things into account, I hate to share thoughts about driving, because I don't want to hand out free advice, and then eat my words later. But on the other hand, I feel like I have a bit of experience with this sort of thing. And hey, the truth is, if you have feelings that strongly contradict what I am about to say, you could always leave me a comment, or write your own post!! :0) And with that, we're off! ;)~
Dear Bad Drivers of the World,
Here is a typical scenario.
I gather all of my kiddos to the car. Some are sleeping. Some are cranky. I get snacks. I get water. I buckle them all in.
I'm in a hurry. I don't want to be late for school pick-up. I also hate traffic, and frankly, I hate the driving, a la people who drive too slowly.
I drive swiftly, but within 5 miles of the speed limit. (This is something I learned when learning how to drive, was ok and not against the law, ahem... correct me if I'm wrong;)
I drive on a two-lane street for about 5 miles to get to the interstate. It isn't a crowded part of town, and there is a long turning lane. However, the lanes are quite small, and it is easy to feel crowded when passing people on this street. They are not too small to drive at the limit, and you can use the left lane and pass someone if you need to.
As per usual, I was driving about 5 over the limit, (the speed limit is 35), when I am slowed down to about 15 mph by a red pick-up truck. I slam on my breaks and I cruise behind him. I am so bored at the crawl, I'm tempted to pick up my phone. I opt to turn on the radio, or sometimes I pop in a CD. "Feelin' Groovy" by Simon and Garfunkel comes on. I get in the passing lane (so important- the passing lane is the left lane, people), when again, I'm faced with someone going about 10 miles under the speed limit--- in the passing lane. (RAR- claws out;) So many things are wrong with this scenario.
I slow way down again, and this time I'm a little frustrated, and I'm starting to get grumpy (mostly because this is a theme of my life every.single.day and frankly? It gets old and music doesn't help;). I can't get around the first car. And now I'm stuck behind someone driving slow in the passing lane, and I therefore have nowhere to go but very, very slowly.
I'm OK, until I see that the lady is looking at me in her rear-view mirror. She's a fifty-something woman with thick black glasses, and she looks right at me in her mirror. At first I think she's giving me a smile of kindness. A flicker of hope! Not everyone in the world is evil! But then, when she slows down even more, I realize. It's pity. She's trying to teach me a lesson about how going 40 in a 35 is somehow criminal. HMPH. All of the emotions. All of the bad emotions. They're all there. They're bubbling to the surface. This, my friend, is not wrong.
Meanwhile, I'm about to be late.
That does it. Pulling into the turning lane, I quickly pass her.
Now before you judge me, know that 1) I have no memory whatsoever (or at least no recent memory!) of passing someone in a turning lane. This is not my normal modus operandi.
And 2) Like I said, this is not a busy part of town (at all). And this is taking place in a mid-sized city, on a very empty street. This is not New York or D.C. There were no cars in the turning lane. There were zero cars coming toward me, who would use the turning lane for anything. This was a long stretch of straight road, where I can see for about a mile ahead of me.
But as these people are probably bored and driving to the store to get milk, I have to get on the interstate and pick up my kids before it's too late.
I'm not speeding. And no, it's not a dire situation. I'm simply trying to drive at a semi-normal pace, just as every parent would like to do when dropping their kids off or picking their kids up from school.
When I get on the interstate, FINALLY, I try to make up for lost time.
Do you know how to quickly pass someone? I learned this by driving in D.C. traffic too many times to be healthy for anyone.
You put on your blinker, and then when there is a space, you pass without hesitation.
In fact, you can nose your way into another lane. If you are an experienced driver using caution, I don't care how busy that interstate is. It is - in fact- much, much safer to put your blinker on, pass without hesitation, and GO!
In Tennessee, I have seen this situation too many times: two lanes turn into one, so as the right lane, in this case, is closed, for about A HALF A MILE, NO ONE is using the right lane BEFORE it is closed. Make sense? No one is driving in the lane that's about to close, because everyone's in a hurry to try to get into that open lane. Did you know that you can take turns merging? (I think it's officially called the "Zipper Merge" and it's done in D.C. traffic all.the.time. ) But no one in Chattanooga does this.
Why? Because *no one knows how to merge.* Insane! Zipper merge, people. Don't cause a traffic jam by not using *an open lane*! Learn how to merge safely and quickly.
In any case, Please for the sake of all that is SANE... even if you don't get the other things I'm saying, people stop driving so slowly.
It isn't safe.
It isn't nice.
And if someone passes you, that's because you're driving too slowly. And yes, it is a form of DEFENSIVE DRIVING. (Which I had to take when I was 16 after getting pulled over by a cop- oops).
Don't try to "get even" with faster drivers by flying around them and speeding off into the sunset! Drives me crazy; happens all the time. People get offended when others drive the speed limit. (?!) Also, don't get in front of that person and purposefully drive slow (and not bother to get out of the way), to teach them a lesson. BAD. DRIVING.
Someone tries to "get me back" and fly around me? Or slow way down so that I can't get off on the exit I need? Road. Rage.* On really, really bad days, I do get angry. I try not to. I try to pray, I don't try to win. But when people are this horrific at driving, and when road rage seems to be a common issue, in (certain areas of) our city, it can cause me great pains. :-O
Most of the time, I just wave and smile, or give them the peace sign. I'm serious. I do not- I repeat, I do not and will never flip anyone off- I'm sorry. ;) The peace sign in a rearview mirror works wonders for clearing the air of anger or panic. Try it sometime! :0)
If you are a nice driver, GOD BLESS YOU. I think we can ALL agree that we should be awake and alert when driving. We should not drive drunk or distracted. But here's the rub: If you aren't a nice driver, I have a quick question for you: I don't care how morally upright you are, how can you expect people to be nice in return?!
If you see me on the road, and you give me a look of pity out of your rearview mirror, here is a fair warning: I will put my blinker on, I will stick my nose out, and within the speed limit of course (always), I will pass you. At some point. ;)
~Last Disclaimer: this does not apply to bad weather, medical emergencies, or other wayward situations;) Also, even though I have had tickets and wrecks in my teens and early twenties, ever since living in D.C., I have never gotten a speeding ticket, I have never gotten into a wreck, and I am a much more careful driver, ironically enough.~
1. Drive the speed limit at least
2. Pass in the left lane
3. Don't drive slowly in the passing lane
4. Don't hesitate when changing lanes
5. Don't try to get even with- or teach a lesson to- faster drivers (Peace sign ;)
6. Zip.per.merge. (If this means nothing to you, see the above link).
Ok. I'm done ranting. Once again, if you are a good, kind, patient driver who assumes the best of others, you get a sticker. If you drive without road rage, or without causing road rage to others, may God shine down his light on you, may you be blessed abundantly with rays of hope right this minute, and may you speed off happily into the sunset. And to everyone else, take a hint.
*M.A.R.R. stands for "Moms against Road Rage" and I'm starting it. Right now.
linking up with Tuesday Talk