Driving 101: What Does A Yield Sign Mean?

yieldI nearly got taken out by a seafood truck this morning on my commute to work.

There is a section on my route where traffic enters the route that is notorious for people ignoring the yield sign.  Fortunately, I avoided a collision with seafood.

I am constantly irked by drivers who have a yield sign but totally ignore it since it isn’t an actual stop sign.  Instead of yielding it seems to be a race to the open spot.

So what is a yield sign anyway?

A yield sign indicates that merging drivers must prepare to stop if necessary to let a driver on another approach proceed. A driver who stops or slows down to let another vehicle through has yielded the right of way to that vehicle. In contrast, a stop sign requires each driver to stop completely before proceeding, whether or not other traffic is present. Particular regulations regarding appearance, installation, and compliance with the signs vary by jurisdiction.

yield_firstIn 1950, the world’s first yield sign was posted at the corner of First Street and Columbia Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before the sign was introduced, this intersection was considered one of the most dangerous in Tulsa. Although there was already a right of way law in place, it was difficult to enforce, and many drivers failed to abide by these rules. Officer Clinton Riggs, a Tulsa native and police officer, had begun developing a sign that he hoped would alleviate these problems. He also wanted to assign clear blame in the event of a collision and hoped his sign would make liability clear.

So why is there an issue with people ignoring yield signs?  It’s one thing – impatience.  This is yet another thing that impatient drivers do.

The point is to slow down for cars or other people, defer to other cars and incoming traffic, proceed when safe, and stop when necessary. There may be a traffic jam disallowing you to enter the major road, or there may be children crossing in front of you. Just because there’s a yield sign displayed doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk and keep on moving – a yield sign means that you should not only be cautious during the event, but also extra cautious for moments following as well.

A routine ticket for failure to yield can cost you between $75 and $400, depending on your state law and, sometimes, your driving record. Some states can base the fine, at least in part, on whether you have other recent violations.

I have learned that drivers in Nashville do whatever the heck they want to do.  Yielding simply does not exist.  It’s that NASCAR mentality I guess.  Race to the open space.  Get in front of the other drivers.  Drive offensively instead of defensively.

Think about that the next time you see a seafood truck blowing through a yield sign.

 

Things I Wish I Could Tell Other Drivers

Businessman getting angry in the carI find myself “directing traffic” when I am driving on the roads in the Music City. Nobody is listening. If they could hear me, here are some of the things they would here me say:

“Calm down. You’re so damn impatient!”

calm

The number ONE complaint I have with other drivers. They are so impatient.  Nobody wants to stop or be behind anyone. I know that stinks but the fact is that we are all trying to get somewhere.

“Stop pushing me! I can’t make the cars ahead of me go any faster!”

tailgating

Tailgaters are another form of impatience. People will ride my rear bumper when it is clear that there are other cars ahead of me. It isn’t like I can do anything about it. I can’t push them out of the way.

“Wait until I am completely past you before you pull out!”

pullout

Yet another example of impatient drivers when you are passing other drivers who want to enter the road but they start their roll before you have passed them.  Slow your roll people!

“I’m on the road too!”

road

Drivers often act as if they are the only ones on the road. They don’t want you there or to be hindered by you in any way. They take it personal if you are impeding them.

“Don’t push me off the road. I’m trying to get out of your way!”

turn

Legally, I can come to a stop when turning but we all know what a bad idea that is. It is very annoying when other drivers refuse to reduce their speed when you are slowing down to turn. I know this is Nashville but I’m not going to do a turn on two wheels maneuver that the General Lee would make on the Dukes of Hazzard.

“You have a yield sign Dude!”

yield

Most drivers blow right past yield signs. Nobody wants to yield. It’s more like who can get to the spot first.

“OMG does anyone know what to do at a four-way stop (or roundabout)?”

four way

People lose their minds at a four-way stop or roundabouts. Either everyone stops or no one stops or people go out of turn and totally screw up the timing of it all.

“The light is green!”

green

If you are the first car in line at the traffic light PAY ATTENTION.  This is not the time to text, apply makeup or zone out.  You are the leader of the line.  Go when the light goes green.  People behind you are waiting.

“Stop texting and drive!”

texting

Yes, I know there are laws against doing this but it isn’t enforced so people are still texting on their devices while driving.  I see it all the time.  Everyone on these people think they are smart enough to do both.  YOU ARE NOT THAT GOOD OF A DRIVER!  Put the device down!

“What the ?”

what

There are some things that drivers do that you just have no idea what to say.  Last week, my wife and I were waiting in a single line of cars on an off-ramp where the first car was waiting to turn left.  The driver behind me decided she wasn’t going to wait, she went around us on the left shoulder and then cut a right in front of the driver who was waiting to turn left.  Very risky move.

I am often amazed at the risks that people take when they are driving.  It isn’t worth increasing your chances for an accident.  Even if it isn’t a major accident, it is still a huge inconvenience for several months dealing with a damaged car and insurance companies.

Please, just keep calm and drive.  Do what you are supposed to do so that we all can get to where we are going safely.

Impatient Drivers, Homeless Vendors and Job Anniversary

workIt happened again.  Yep, a driver nearly mowed me down in the pedestrian crosswalk.  I had the light to walk yet this guy gunned his engine and began moving toward me before he jerked his truck and sped through the intersection.  He wasn’t going to be bothered with waiting two minutes for pedestrians to cross.  I don’t understand this really.  Exactly why are people in such a hurry?  I see it all the time with drivers.  They will race in and out of traffic, tailgate – and I mean tailgate so close that they should buy you dinner too and just driving with reckless abandon.  There’s no need to be in a hurry.  Everybody needs to chill and drive calmly.

After nearly getting plowed by the driver, I encountered a street vendor selling magazines.  Now I usually walk past and not give it another thought but today I decided to help out.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of magazine the vendor was selling.  It is called “The Contributor Magazine” and it is a way to help the homeless.  Each vendor pays $2.00 for each magazine and they sell them for $5.00 and keep the profits.  Founded in 2007, The Contributor is a nonprofit, social enterprise in Nashville that was created to provide an earned income opportunity for homeless and formerly homeless individuals.  By doing this, vendors can create community with their customers and gain a restored sense of purpose, pride and dignity.  Now this magazine is a lot better than some other vendors selling newspapers.  They also help the homeless with a place to stay until they can get their life on track.  The particular vendor today told me he had recently gotten out of prison and was trying to get his life back together by selling the magazines.  I don’t mean to sound ornery about this but I had rather help someone like that than give a huge offering at church or to some TV preacher.

Today marks my fourth year working at this office location in Nashville.  I can’t say that I “love” Nashville but it’s not too bad.  I’m still not sure it is home but it is home for now.  When I first started to work here I was told the office was a good old country family.  I think that was a bit of an exaggeration but I have settled in here after taking over for a “legend” in this position.  In fact, on my first day here I was confronted by a few critics who told me point blank that I wouldn’t fill the shoes of the person I was replacing.  That situation bothered me until one day I just threw down the gloves and took control of it.  I do my own things in my own way and I get the job done.  I wasn’t going to live in the shadows of comparison to someone else.  I didn’t replace anyone.  I do my own thing.  Things have been different for me since that day.  After a career that will soon hit 27 years, this will probably be my last stop on this career as I hope to ride out into the sunset from here.

CMA Fest, Crazy Drivers and Following The Rules

rules

CMA FEST:  Country Music, Drinking and Hot

Before my wife and I moved to Nashville in the summer of 2014, I had never heard of CMA Fest.  Even now, this thing called “CMA Fest” week always seems to slip up on me.  If you love Country Music, drinking and hot weather then this is the week for you.  I am not a fan of any of those.  Yeah, I know the obvious question:  Why do you live in Nashville then?  Hmmmm.  Good one.  I’m working on changing that.  CMA Fest week is the week those of us working downtown dread.  Parking rates are doubled, streets are blocked and people are everywhere.  There are a lot of free concerts but mostly those I call “minor league” acts.  They are not yet big names in Country Music.  Will you see a celebrity?  Yes, but it will cost you.  I have yet to see a celebrity during CMA Fest.  I did see Brothers Osborne from a distance last year but got a better view on a TV monitor.  They also have this thing called Fan Fair which is a place you can have a Meet & Greet with someone but, again, most of them or either unknowns or has-beens.  When we were looking at the list we kept saying:  “I thought they were dead”.    Just to give you a sample….here are the first ten on the list:  Amber Hayes, Bailey Bryan, Becky Brown, Brett Kissel, Charles Esten, Debbie Anthony, Granger Smith, Jeffrey East, Jon Langston, and JT Lewis.  I would have to Google these folks to know why they are being meeted and greeted.

CRAZY DRIVERS:  Don’t be one of them

And if traffic wasn’t bad enough on a normal day, Nashville drivers are just crazy.  I’m sure it is much the same in other big cities.  Drivers here do whatever they want to do.  Here are the top 10 things that are problems:

  1. Impatient Drivers
  2. Drivers not staying in their lane when turning
  3. Impatient Drivers
  4. Drivers merging onto Interstate expecting you to stop.  (I’m not kidding about this one)
  5. Impatient Drivers
  6. Tailgating
  7. Impatient Drivers
  8. Pedestrians not obeying their signals or using crosswalks
  9. Impatient Drivers
  10. Distracted Drivers eating, texting, talking on the phone, daydreaming, etc.

Did I mention impatient drivers there?  Yes, that is the common theme.  People do not want to wait for anything or anyone.  They don’t want to obey simple traffic rules.  It’s all about going faster than you and do whatever it takes to get there.

FOLLOWING THE RULES:  Do you mean me?

I read the story last week of this kid who was to graduate and decided not to follow the dress code and was clearly told there would be a zero tolerance.  When he decided to ignore the rules and was banned from walking at graduation he and his mother were upset about it.  Seriously?  What is wrong with people?  Why is it so difficult for people to simply follow directions?  I see this too many times.  People park where they aren’t supposed to park,  co-workers take leave they don’t have or fall into Old Faithful when signs tell them not to cross the line.  I don’t know.  I guess I live in the wrong time period.  There are reasons for rules.  It seems that those who break the rules get away with it.  The rules aren’t enforced.  I remember taking classes when the instructor waited for a few minutes for the stragglers to get there.  So you penalize the people who obeyed the rules and got their own time?  Makes no sense to me at all.  To be honest, I think people are scared to enforce the rules out of fear of getting shot or attacked.  People do that now. Even if they are called out for being in the wrong, THEY are the ones who get upset.  I don’t understand that.  Must be a mental thing.

Oops, my lunch hour was up a minute ago.

 

Driving 101: Patience Grasshopper

patienceThe common theme in almost every Driving 101 posts I have made is the impatience of drivers that roll along our highways.  You know the person – the one who pulls out in front of you forcing you to brake when there is absolutely no traffic behind you.  Then there is the person who flings their hands up in frustration because you didn’t run that red light.  Of course, who can ignore that driver who is tailgating you and would want to push you out of their way.

Impatience in driving is a huge problem.

Okay, I get it.  Driving is boring.  We hate it.  We are all trying to get from one place to another.  Unfortunately there are other people on the road doing the same thing.  Shocking I know.  It always amazes me in the morning commute when someone is driving at warp speed weaving in and out of traffic toward downtown.  I will usually say to that driver:  “We are all trying to get to work too.  You’re not the only one.”

The impatience thing is an epidemic.  Impatience often escalates into road rage.  So how can we deal with impatient drivers?

  1. Let it go.  Get out of their way when possible.  It’s not worth flipping someone off or getting shot by someone who gets mad about it.  Driving isn’t a competition.  You aren’t losing a race.  Ignore them.
  2. Stay calm.  Don’t get mad or try to make them more angry by slowing down even more or continuing to get in their way.  The important thing to do in these situations is to operate YOUR vehicle safely.  Even if the other driver wants to push you out into the road, you proceed when you feel it is safe because if you get hit because you feel stressed by the other driver, you will be the one hurt by it.  More than likely, the other driver will just swerve around you and leave you dealing with the accident.
  3. Don’t be one.  Don’t be the impatient driver.  Leave on time to get to your destination.  Watch the traffic report for any problems to decide if you need to take another route.  Don’t be so quick to hit the horn.  Don’t put others in danger.  Don’t deliberately prevent someone from merging or changing lanes.

As frustrating as it is, you can’t control what other people do, you can only control what you do.  Impatient drivers are a reality in our selfie generation.  Impatient drivers think the road is theirs and no one else matters.   Impatient drivers cause five million deadly accidents each year.  Some of the top impatient causes of these fatal accidents are speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way (I’m not sure anyone really knows who has the right-of-way these days), reckless driving and failure to obey traffic signs and signals.

One of the things I often see is when drivers are turning and they cut the turn too short into the other turn lane.  I can see the colors of other drivers’ eyes when they do this.  Last week I counted six people talking on their phones while making the turn.

I am often driving through the intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Highway 70S in Bellevue and I dread it.  There are way too many things going on there with drivers coming from every direction.  I have seen drivers take too many chances simply because they are impatient and refuse to wait for traffic to clear before entering the highway.

Be patience grasshopper.  Pay attention to the drivers around you.  Stay calm.

 

Driving 101: Turning Vehicles Ahead

driver

I have addressed the issue with impatient drivers in past blogs on Driving 101 and it is clearly evident when a vehicle is turning.  I see it in my own rearview mirror when I am turning and see the vehicle behind me barreling down on me.

It’s a common theme.   People do not want to stop.  They do not want you to impede them in any way so you’d better make that turn on two wheels.

We live in a “selfie” society where we have no patience in waiting on anything!  These days, almost everything can be accomplished with the push of a button, the click of an app, or the swipe of a card.  When one of these things slows us down we get frustrated.  Nowhere it shows more than behind the wheel.

If you are approaching a vehicle that is making a right turn, reduce your speed, safely change into another lane (if applicable) or safely pass the vehicle.   Do not assume what the vehicle is supposed to do.  Entrances to driveways or roads are not always obvious.

Also keep in mind that the vehicle ahead of you may also be yielding to pedestrians in a walk way.

The main thing is just to be patient.  It all comes down on us at some point when we have to make the turns too.  We want people to be patient with us so let’s make the practice for everyone.

If you are the one making a turn:

  • Begin decelerating and use your turn signal in advance of making the turn.
  • Yield to pedestrians who may be crossing your path.  Also be alert for any bicycle lanes.
  • Take the time necessary to make the turn.

In the complex where I live, there is no turn off lane so I have to slow down to make the turn.  I try to always give plenty of notice that I am turning so that the driver behind me can move to another lane.  Regardless of how much notice or how defensive I drive, there are many times when the driver will not slow down or change lanes.

People are going to turn.  Be patient.

 

 

 

Driving 101: Patience

angry-driver

If you asked me one thing that is a problem in traffic and I would immediately say it is impatient drivers.  Impatience causes a lot of frustrations on the roadway.

Yesterday was a good example as I was getting on the Interstate, another driver was tailgating me and flailing their arms at me because I wasn’t doing it fast enough.  The problem was that I had to wait for the drivers in front of me to do what they were going to do.  I couldn’t push them.  Once we got on the interstate, the driver behind me jerked their vehicle into the other lane and raced away.

I’m sure you have had your own experience with impatient drivers too.  Common examples are those who tailgate and trying to push you out of their way or drivers who fly by you on the left so they can cut in front of you to the exit or those who want to make two lanes before there are actually two lanes.

Most of these impatient moves actually don’t end up saving the impatient driver very much, if even a few seconds down the road.

Now I admit that I am not the perfect model for patience and I don’t like being delayed by slower drivers ahead of me either but some take their impatience to the extreme.  There is quite a driver arrogance when you honk legitimately at someone for being in the wrong and they either honk back at you or flip you off.     I had a guy do that one day when HE ran a stop sign and I honked at him.  He flipped me off and keep going.

Yes, we all have somewhere to be.  Unfortunately there are some who are not disciplined enough to leave in enough time to get to their location on time without having to use the roads as their personal NASCAR race to get to their destination.  When someone is impatient with me during the morning commute, I will make it a joke that THEY are the only ones who have to get to work.

Let’s all relax and take a deep breath.  Quit trying to one-up other drivers or force your way in traffic.  It’s a small world and we’re all trying to get somewhere.  Let’s get there safely.

Some places in Nashville that are in need of patience:

  • Drivers who are trying to get on I-65 North when other drivers are going straight on Rosa Parks.  I have seen people drive up on the sidewalk to get around.  It’s funny because they are in a hurry to get in line on I-65.
  • Drivers getting off the Broadway exit on I-40 who immediately try to make it two lanes before it actually has two lanes.
  • Drivers either entering downtown from I-40 exit ramp or those on the frontage road that insist on ignoring the red light.

Nearly ever time you drive, you will see another driver do something impatient or even reckless.  Take a deep breath and let it go.  None of us like injustice but be patient.   Being impatient will only make it worse.   Because there are so many people on the roads, we have the false sense of negativity of others and the idea that we will never see them again so we can act however we want.

Come on Nashville drivers!  Be patient!  They say we are one of the friendliest cities in America but there is little evidence of that on the highways.

 

 

 

Driving 101: Red Lights

red-lightMost of us were taught very early that red means “stop” but for a few select drivers in Nashville, red lights only mean that traffic could be coming from the other direction.  I had one fellow tailgating me through Belle Meade one day and he was furious that I had stopped at a red light instead of running it.  He jerked his truck around me and sped off when the light changed.

None of us like having to wait at a red light.  The average wait time at a red light is two minutes but it can longer in some areas depending on traffic flow and other factors.

Two minutes seem to be too long for the select drivers in Nashville.  I call them “speeeeecial” and drag out the middle part of that word when I say it.   Impatience is the main reason these special drivers run the red lights.  They do not think THEY have to wait.

A red light is a signal to STOP.  Not speed up.  Not roll through.

When approaching an intersection, you must stop before the pedestrian crosswalk or any markings before the intersection.

The most commonly violated red lights are the ones where traffic is exiting Interstate 40 into downtown.  I can usually count at least two vehicles that completely blow through this light. Nashville could make lots of fine money if they would patrol these areas.   Fines for running a red light range from $50 – $100.

So what constitutes running a red light in Tennessee?

The Tennessee Code Section 55-8-110 (e) states that it is not a violation unless the front tires of a vehicle cross the stop line after the signal is red.    A person commits the violation if their front tires are past the stop line when the light turns red.  A vehicle could be in the center of the intersection when the light turns red and not be subject to a citation.

In many instances I have witnessed, the nose of the car has not even broken the plane of the stop line when the light has already turned red.  Clearly a violation.

People run red lights for various reasons:

  • Impatience
  • Distracted or tired
  • Incorrectly estimating their speed and timing
  • Intoxicated or clouded judgment

Red light runners cause hundreds of deaths and injuries each year.  Most of downtown crashes involved drivers who ran red lights, stop signs and other traffic controls.

It also helps the personal injury law firms stay in business.

Two minutes could make a lot of difference.