Tag: nashville drivers

Driving 101: Show Some Respect

I get it.  We are all in a hurry to get to places we need to be and we don’t have time to be slowed down by other traffic or issues on the highways.  We are wrapped up in our own world and oblivious to others but there comes a time that we should stop for a minute and show some respect.

I have seen too many times when a funeral procession passes by that other drivers either ignore it and keep driving by or use it as an opportunity to pass other drivers who have stopped as a sign of respect.

Is it really people being that selfish and impatient or do they just not know the rules about this?

The rules vary from state-to-state so check with your state on their rules for when you encounter a funeral procession on the roadway.  For the State of Tennessee, Code 55-8-183 states:

(c) (1) Unless complying with the specific order of a law enforcement officer, no operator of a motor vehicle shall knowingly:
(A) Fail to yield the right-of-way to a properly identified funeral procession progressing across an intersection in accordance with the provisions of subdivision (a)(1);
(B) While following a properly identified funeral procession along a two-lane street, road or highway, pass or attempt to pass a properly identified funeral procession; or
(C) Drive or attempt to drive between the vehicles within a properly identified funeral procession.
(2) Each violation of subdivision (c)(1) is punishable by a civil penalty not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00).
(3) For purposes of this subsection (c), to be a “properly identified” funeral procession, the procession must be indicated by a flashing amber light and a auditory signaling device mounted on the lead vehicle or by other properly identified escort, and a flag or other appropriate marking device on each vehicle in the procession indicating that the vehicle is part of the funeral procession.

Is it so hard to simply pull over for a few seconds until the deceased and immediate family passes by?  What if it was your family or your loved one?  We all look at this a little differently when it affects us.  I know that the times I have been part of the family that it always was comforting to see drivers show respect.  It does give you a sense of hope in humanity.

Yes, it is a moment of inconvenience and it slows us down but wouldn’t you rather slow down for a few seconds than to be IN the funeral procession?funeral-procession-etiquette-1519247332

 

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Driving 101: What Does The Flashing Lights Mean?

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Confusion With Flashing Traffic Lights

I was rolling along West End Avenue on my commute home from downtown Nashville last week when I saw a traffic obstacle ahead.  It was a flashing yellow light.  Apparently the traffic light was out which defaulted it to a flashing yellow light for the main road and a flashing red light for the side streets at the intersection.  And how did Nashvillans handle it?

Like a four-way stop.

No, no, no.  Not correct.  It made that intersection more dangerous than it needed to be.

According to the driving rules from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the rules for these lights are:

  • A flashing RED light means to come to a complete stop and then only proceed when you can.
  • A flashing YELLOW light means to proceed with caution.

It is not treated as a four-way stop unless everyone has a flashing RED light.  Then – and only then – do you treat it like a four-way stop.

What happened?  This intersection was made hazardous by people who do not know – or care – about the correct traffic rule.  If you are stuck at the flashing red light on the side streets – too bad.  You will have to figure out a way to proceed.  More than likely, drivers should turn right and navigate an alternate route instead of turning left or driving across.

The traffic light confusion created a huge traffic jam since the West End traffic started stopping at the flashing yellow light.  Yeah, I was fussing.  I proceeded with caution but nearly got sideswiped by a driver from the side street who was irritated that I didn’t let them go.  Hey, driver – go look at the driver’s manual.  It’s not difficult.  In fact, Google it on your smart phone while you are driving.  You’re texting anyway.

Here are the rules for flashing lights:

  • FLASHING RED LIGHT – Stop, yield the right-of-way and proceed when it is safe.
  • FLASHING YELLOW LIGHT – Drive with caution.
  • STEADY RED ARROW – Do not turn until green light goes on.  A right or left turn is not permitted at a red arrow.
  • STEADY YELLOW LIGHT – Light is changing from green to red.  Be prepared to stop.  (No, it doesn’t mean accelerate OR to slam on the brakes)
  • STEADY GREEN LIGHT – Our favorite light.  Go, but yield the right-of-way to other traffic and pedestrians (and the illegally walking pedestrians) at the intersections as required by law.

So, I proceeded with caution at the intersection last week obeying the flashing yellow light but had a near miss in the process.  I wish people would learn the rules.  It’s crazy to drive and follow the rules when others ignore them and then fuss/honk/flip your off when they are in the wrong.

Okay, I get it.  You are late for something.  Vanderbilt is playing a basketball game.  Whatever the reason you still need to know what the lights mean.

To clarify again – a YELLOW FLASHING LIGHT means that you must proceed with caution and NOT come to a complete stop.

Driving 101: Just Drive!

Businessman using mobile phoneI will soon be on the commute home.  It’s always an adventure.  You never know what’s going through the minds of the drivers in Nashville, Tennessee.  People tend to do whatever they feel like doing.  Forget about traffic lights, turn signals and lanes on the road.  If they can do it, they will.  Never assume anything out there.

Recently we encountered a driver that was driving erratic as we were on the ramp to enter I-40.  My wife looked over (since I was driving) and noticed the driver was all into texting.  The driver was looking down at their phone and texting.  It must have been important.

It seems too many drivers are focused on other things than driving.  If you are behind the wheel, you’re ONLY job is to drive.  Nothing else.  Drive the vehicle.

Distracted driving is a huge problem today.  Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities which take the driver’s attention away from the act of driving.  Although distracted driving has been a problem before, the problem became more of a problem with the invention of smartphones (which makes drivers dumb).  According to the United States Department of Transportation, text messaging while driving creates a crash risk 23 times higher than driving while not distracted.

Our daughter was rear ended on the exit ramp when another driver admitted that she was looking at her child showing her a YouTube video.  When she looked up, it was too late to avoid impact.  Fortunately, our daughter wasn’t seriously injured but it has been a very difficult time dealing with something that wasn’t her fault.

Distracted driving includes activities such as:

  • Eating
  • Looking after children
  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Talking to a passenger
  • Watching videos
  • Rubbernecking
  • Reading

While on the subject of drivers talking on the phone – who are these people talking to?  Why is it necessary to have to talk to people on the phone?

Think about it…we enter a vehicle made of steel, plastic and rubber and accelerate up to 70 miles per hour.  Shouldn’t we be more concerned about doing that act safely rather than eating a cheeseburger or texting a poop emoji to someone?

When I road the bus in Tampa, one day I looked over and saw a driver with the newspaper completely opened and reading it while he was driving.  Wow.  How stupid have we become?

My wife commented this morning that she saw someone with headphones on while driving.  So, now we have a driver who will be deaf to anything happening on the road but will make sure he can hear his Blake Shelton song.

I found this poll very interesting.  According to a HealthDay poll of adults who admitted to being distracted:

  • 86% were eating or drinking while driving
  • 41% were adjusting their GPS device
  • 37% were texting
  • 36% were using a map (yeah, that surprised me too)
  • 24% were browsing the Internet
  • 20% were combing or styling their hair
  • 14% were applying makeup  (I think that number has to be higher on the morning commute)

Folks, can we just simply drive the car?  That’s not asking too much.

Driving 101: Give Me A Brake!

brakesI know you’ve had it happen to you.   You are driving down the road and in the corner of your eye, you see another vehicle approaching the road way you are in.  Will they stop?  Do they see you?

You tense up.  Prepare your foot to step on the brake.  Then the other vehicle stops.  Whew!

What’s up with people that wait until the absolute last second to apply their brakes and come to a stop.  My heart has skipped a beat many times because of these last-second-stoppers.   There are way too many people who have faith in their brakes.  I wish people would stop going full speed only to brake right before a possible impact.  What happened to the thought of slowly applying the brakes?

The most commonly suggested method of braking is progressive braking.  It requires using your judgment in timing and how much to apply to your brake.  It should start slight and increase with pressure and finish with light pressure.   Doing so not only saves on your brakes but also:

  • Allows for other drivers to react to your actions
  • Prevents locked wheels
  • Prevents the car from skidding
  • Saves on gas
  • More comfortable for your passengers

Once again I think most drivers are impatient.  When they are approaching a road way, they don’t want to have to stop.  They would prefer to simply roll out onto the road without being stopped.  I am pretty sure this is the reason for the late brakers.  Even with the braking technology that we have today, it is still important to learn and practice safe braking techniques to avoid dangerous situations.

Think you’ve mastered braking?  The next time you brake, do you passengers grab the handles or do the head bob when you come to a stop?  If so, then maybe you need to adjust your technique.  Believe it or not, it is necessary to stop for other vehicles.  I know it’s a pain and really robs you of precious seconds but you aren’t the only the car on the road.  Shocking, I know.

When you approach a situation where you may need to stop, don’t rush up to it and slam on the brakes.  Coming to a stop also separates the good driver from the bad.  The bad way is the taxi stop – constant brake pressure, then the car rocks back on its suspension as it comes to a halt. The good way is the limo stop – as the car is about to halt relax the brake pressure so you almost roll to a stop without making your passengers do the funky chicken or rocking backwards.  Don’t forget to leave enough space between you and the car in front such that you can see its rear tires – that way you can maneuver out of the way if necessary.

Come on Nashville!  I know they don’t brake in NASCAR but use some common sense on the crazy highways in and around the Music City.  You won’t be less of a person if you have to stop for someone else.

 

 

#1 Way To Improve Nashville Traffic

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Since moving to Nashville in 2014, I have heard and read several things about the growth of Nashville and never ending complaints about the traffic.  There have been talks about the “25-year plan” and light rail as well as express buses.   Nashville already has a commuter rail called the Music City Star which I used when I first moved here and lived East of downtown.  Even with the convenience and ease of riding the Music City Star, the traffic for those who do not ride the train to/from that direction is still a pain.  When you travel from points east to downtown you have to deal with 24/40 split and 40/65 split.   Since there is no Interstate by-pass around Nashville, that means everyone has to go there.

So what’s the answer right now for improving Nashville’s traffic headaches?

More roads?   More buses?  Light Rail?

Nope.

The #1 way to improve Nashville traffic is for drivers to obey the traffic laws.   Every driver in Nashville should take a refresher course on traffic rules.  Here are some of the simple things that most Nashville driver’s need to do:

  • Stop At Red Lights – The most elementary rule in driving.  If the light is red you MUST stop!  If you think I’m exaggerating this problem, try driving on one of the streets where traffic exiting the Interstate has a traffic light.
  • Use Your Turn Signal – Unless we live in a city where everyone has ESP, it is a necessity to put yourself out and operate that device on the steering wheel that lets everyone know where you are going.
  • Get Off The Phone – Who are you talking to?  You are in the car and behind the wheel so DRIVE!
  • Be Patient – Gosh people don’t you think ALL of us are trying to get somewhere too?  Impatience is one of the big things Nashville drivers are lacking.

The main thing about driving is to simply do what you are supposed to do.  Simple.  Just obey the rules.  While this wouldn’t solve Nashville’s congestion issues it would make things flow a lot smoother if everyone would cooperate.   Somehow the Music City was deemed the “Friendliest City” in America last year.  I can’t imagine this was based on Nashville drivers.  Maybe they mistook that gesture for meaning they were Number One!

Here is my unofficial ranking of the worst commutes in Nashville:

  1. I-24  between Nashville-Murfreesboro
  2. I-65 between Nashville-Madison-Goodlettsville-Hendersonville
  3. I-65 between Nashville-Brentwood-Franklin
  4. I-40 between Nashville-Donelson-Hermitage
  5. Downtown-Hillsboro Road
  6. Downtown-Lebanon Pike
  7. Downtown-Gallatin Pike
  8. Lower Broadway (anytime)
  9. Downtown-Charlotte Pike
  10. Downtown-Belle Meade

When is rush hour in Nashville?  It seems to start around 2:30 p.m. and starts to thin out around 6:30 p.m. during the week.

Whenever and wherever you travel just remember to be patient and do what you are supposed to do.

Driving 101: Impatiently Distracted Drivers

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I have mentioned this before in previous posts about driving in Nashville.  The two main issues I see going on with drivers are:  (1) They are impatient and (2) They are distracted.

First, let me talk about distracted driving.  My daughter was recently rear ended by another driver on an exit ramp when the driver stated she looked down to see what her son was watching on YouTube.   An example of the serious issue of distracted driving.  In 2014, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.  The distractions are texting, using the phone, eating/drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (yeah, I’ve seen this one and couldn’t believe it), using navigation systems, watching a video, adjusting audio devices in the car (oops, I’m guilty of this one).

Let’s face it, driving is boring.  But, when we are in the driver’s seat, we need to do one thing:  drive.  It only takes a glance away from the road to have an accident.  Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.  I have also noticed that talking on the phone is so very distracting even if your eyeballs are physically looking at the road.  People tend to slow down, drift into other lanes and ignore using turn signals.

Avoid distracted driving.  Pay attention to the road and the traffic conditions around you.  No one should text and drive.

Second, there is an epidemic of impatient drivers.  There is one apartment complex we pass on our commute to work where people really do not want to wait on us to pass by.  They will either roll out in front of us, causing us to brake or begin their roll before we pass by them.  People do not want to stop or wait for any reason.  If you are going too slow, they will try to push you out of their way.    If you are trying to turn, drivers behind you don’t want to slow down at all.  They want to keep their same speed regardless how sharp you need to make a turn.  It is disappointing to see people so impatient simply because they are in a rush.  It is just ridiculous how aggressive people can be.  Honking the horn doesn’t help matters.    I find it very irritating when pulling over for emergency vehicles and once they have passed, other drivers pass by too as if I didn’t need to get back on the road myself.

Impatient drivers will do some crazy and risky things on the highways.  If they are going to miss a turn or exit some will take unnecessary chances instead of going to the next exit or taking an alternate route to get to their destination.

We all have somewhere to be.  Let’s just dial it down a notch and get there safely.