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.

Driving 101: Tie Your Crap Down

debris

A few months ago my wife and I were travelling on I-65 North from Nashville headed to Cincinnati when an orange cone blew out of a Nashville Electric Service truck.  The cone then blew across the road into my lane.  I resisted the tendency to swerve around it so as not to cause an accident to myself or others.  I ran over the cone.  Yes, it was a hard plastic cone but it resulted in $400 worth of repairs.  Fortunately, neither my wife or I were injured.

I see this happen too many times when people fail to take the necessary safety precautions in securing their cargo.  As far Nashville, the most common issue are ladders.  Contractors seem unable to hold on to their ladders.  It is NOT enough to simply throw a ladder on the back of the truck or put a tool box on it to hold it down.  Ladders need to be TIED DOWN.  In fact, any cargo needs to be secured.

See this CBS News report on road debris accidents.

I’m a bit animated about this issue since a vehicle I was driving was struck by two semi-truck ties nearly 10 years ago.  I was lucky to escape serious injury as one of the tires nearly missed the driver’s side.  It is something I will never forget on that day returning from Columbia, South Carolina.  My vehicle was totaled.

Just this week a 25-year-old women was injured after being struck by road debris that crashed through her windshield on Florida’s Turnpike as a piece of metal flew up from the roadway.

According to AAA, two-thirds of crashes that involve objects on the roadway are the result of debris falling off a vehicle.  Between 2011-2014, debris on American roadways played a key role in more than 200,00 reported crashes and 500 deaths.  More than a third of all deaths in these crashes resulted from the driver swerving to avoid the object.

In 16 states, the person responsible for the debris can face some jail time.

Here are some tips for drivers on dealing with debris:

  • Drivers must ensure all parts are securely attached and maintained
  • Replace worn tires as this can result in blowouts and large pieces of rubber in the roadway
  • Replace rusted hardware
  • Tie down cargo securely with rope, nettings or straps directly to the truck or trailer bed.
  • Don’t overload the vehicle
  • When following vehicles with loads, be defensive and leave plenty of space.
  • Drivers should continually search the road ahead at least 12 to 15 seconds for debris
  • Don’t tailgate!
  • If you see you are about to make contact with debris, safely reduce your speed as much as possible before making contact
  • Always be aware of open space around your vehicle in case you need to make suddenly lane changes to avoid the debris

The mentality of “just throw in on the truck” is not good enough.  Tie it down.  Secure it as if someone from your family will be following behind you.  Don’t be lazy about it or try to push the limit.  Just this morning on the commute to work my wife and I ended up behind a truck hauling a trailer overloaded with wooden pallets.  Yes, they were strapped down but it was more than should have been loaded on the trailer.  It was a hazard.  I wasn’t very comfortable riding behind it and was relieved when they changed lanes (and in addition to the load, the rear lights didn’t work on their trailer either).

Don’t assume.  Be safe when it comes to securing your load.

 

 

Driving 101: Changing Lanes

lanes

Some days on the commute to or from work, I feel like I’m a slow driver in a NASCAR race.  Other drivers race past me and move in and out of lanes as if there were a checkered flag at the end.  Turn signals are optional.  Hey – they know where they are going!  That’s all that matters right?

No.  This isn’t a NASCAR race or any other kind of race.  This is highway driving.

Okay, Nashvillans, here are the official rules for changing lanes:

When changing lanes, the MOST important thing is to make sure there is clear gap in the traffic.  Then move safely and smoothly into the center of the desired lane, while maintaining your space in the flow of traffic so that no other vehicle is forced to slow down, speed up, or change lanes to avoid collision.

Okay, I know I lost most of the Music City drivers there.

When you change lanes, follow these steps:

  1. Turn on your signal.  (It’s usually located on the left side of the steering wheel)
  2. Check your mirrors.  (That shiny thing on the side of the car)
  3. Check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder. (Look up the definition of a blind spot)
  4. If it is safe, change lanes. (Remember, there’s no checkered flag at the end)
  5. Turn off your signal after completing the lane change.  (Or leave it on until you get to Florida)

Other things about changing lanes:

  • On a four-lane road where two lanes travel in one direction and two other lanes travel in the opposite direction, the right lane is designed to be the primary driving lane and the left lane is to be used for passing.
  • ALL drivers should surrender the left lane to approaching emergency vehicles.
  • Although it’s not illegal to change lanes in an intersection, it is potentially dangerous and should be avoided if possible.  (Yes, I got busted on this one recently.)

One of the most hazardous issues on the highways are when drivers decide to change lanes at the last possible moment.  This shows a lack of awareness by the driver.  Be in the lane you are supposed to be in well in advance to avoid this erratic lane change.  If you miss your turn, just get off at the next exit or change your route.  With the technology we have now, there is no reason to freak out that you will miss your one and only chance to make your move.

Nashville, please be aware of what you are doing.  It is everyone’s responsibility to make safe lane changes.