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

 

Driving 101: No Need For Speed

speedingI saw a story on Good Morning America this week where Dodge announced the release of a new car with an 850 Horsepower engine. Why is there a need for this? Robin Roberts asked this question of Michael Strahan who said that while he wouldn’t use all of the 850 Horsepower, he just liked to know he had that power.

Wow. What an endorsement for testosterone levels everywhere.

There have been three times in the last week where I have been driving and encountered drivers whizzing past me as if they were filming a scene for a “Fast and Furious” movie. One wrong move and there would have been a serious accident.

Why is it necessary to go as fast as you possibly can? Drivers are so impatient. They don’t want to be slowed down – even if you are going the speed limit. Have you ever been almost pushed by the car behind you because they wanted to go faster?

I looked down at the speedometer on our Honda CRV and wondered why it is possible that I could go 140 miles per hour. When would I need this and why can cars go this fast?

The reasoning behind this is that our vehicles need the power to accelerate to highway speeds in a reasonable amount of time such as going from 0-60 mph in about eight seconds which requires an engine to be powerful enough to do this. It is also necessary to dead with winds, steep hills and sharp curves.

But the power of the engine and the fact that the speedometer shows you can go 140 mph does not mean you should. Most cars are not designed to sustain those tops speeds for any lengthy period of time.

In the United States, speeding was the main factor in 112,580 deaths between 2005-2014 and the numbers are on the rise.  When you throw in distracted or impaired driving with speeding, chances of injury or death on the roads increase.  Let me tell you something you probably already know, people are doing whatever they want to do when driving so whether it is eating, drinking or texting, speeding only make things worse.  Drivers do not think of speeding the same as they think about other hazardous driving behaviors.  They just have to get wherever they are going FAST.

Speeding is a form of aggressive driving.  No doubt you will see it today when you are on the roads.   So what are the rules for speed limits?

The speed limit, unless otherwise posted, is 25 mph is school zones, business, or residential districts; 35 mph in certain low density business and residential districts; 50 mph on all other highways and 65 mph on state highways.  Refer to your state’s rules on these limits.  So what about that passing lane?  Isn’t it the same speed limit for any lane?  Not necessary.   In some areas, such as Colorado and Kentucky, vehicles in the left lane are required to yield to faster traffic only if the speed limit is above 65 mph.  Again, check your local rules on this one.

If you are in the passing (a.k.a. “fast lane”) please allow the slower vehicle the opportunity to change lanes safely.  Sure, there will be drivers who will stay in the lane regardless but most people will want to move out of the way.

If you are living in Nashville, Interstates 40, 24 and 65 are not official NASCAR tracks.  Believe it or not, speed limits are posted.  It isn’t a race to get home, to work or to a Blake Shelton concert.  Relax.  Stop speeding and make sure everyone gets where they are going safely.

 

 

Nashville Traffic, Soccer and HOCKEY!

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Okay, instead of a separate blog for each subject here, I decided to merge them together.  Yes, merge – as in what drivers here do NOT do in traffic here.

Let’s start on that first…the bad and ugly about living in Nashville.

Today it took me about 25 minutes to get to work.  Yesterday it took an HOUR and TWENTY minutes to get there.  The reason for the traffic mess was due to a construction project that wasn’t completed in time for the morning commute.  I don’t blame the TDOT workers for the mess because those folks have a thankless and hazardous job working to fix and maintain our roads.   My issue is with the mayor without any good plan to fix this, yet trying to get a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise here along with a stadium.  I can just about guarantee you that NO ONE stuck in the traffic mess yesterday was thinking about soccer or the stadium plans.  We were all wondering about this grandiose plan to fix the traffic situation.  I know every major city fusses about their traffic issues but Nashville is a little different.  The city is going faster than its infrastructure to support the growth.

Yesterday, the traffic report said there was one word to describe the commute on I-40 travelling from the west:  “Awful”.   It was awful.  There are only two alternate routes to take when I-40 Eastbound is a mess and those alternate routes weren’t any better.  There’s got to be a better way to fix the problem now.  Whoever designed the highway system here needs to be beaten severely with a stick.  Nashville has no interstate bypass routes.  Interstates 24, 40 and 65 all converge in Nashville.  Why is that?  And the enter/exit ramps are like nothing I have ever seen.  They are so poorly designed for the volume of traffic here.   With all the talk of building a soccer stadium at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds I can’t help but to wonder how they are going to get people in and out of there?  If you ever go there for anything you know what I am talking about.

Here are a few things I would suggest from just a citizen’s point-of-view:

  • Build an interstate bypass around Nashville so that the semis won’t have to roll through downtown.  I’m sure they all dread having to come through Nashville.
  • Commuter Rail.  You’ve got the Music City Star train but it only comes from the East to Downtown.  This is nothing really.  Even if you live over there, the schedules need to be better.  Expand it for the high volume areas such as from Murfreesboro, Hendersonville and Franklin.
  • Downtown Rail.  I know we have the free Music City Circuit bus routes for downtown but get the buses off the road.  There’s already too much crap downtown for these buses to deal with like the peddle taverns, go carts, party buses, etc.   Why not create a people mover rail like they have in Miami?  It is very clean, convenient and free for people to take around downtown areas.  It’s not a major subway system and very efficient.
  • Funding revenue from parking vendors.  Take the funding from these parking vendors who price gouge the people who work downtown.  They jack up the prices when there is a special event downtown.  Jack them up by taking some of their greedy money.
  • Funding revenue from traffic violators.  The traffic cops really need to sit at the entrance/exit ramps and they will get a boost in revenue for red light violators and lane blockers.
  • Redesign the entrance/exit ramps.  I don’t know what to suggest here but there has GOT to be a better way.

Now for the good news….HOCKEY IS BACK!

The Nashville Predators open the 2017-2018 season tonight in Boston.  I have been more excited for the start of the hockey season than I was for the kickoff of the National Football League (NFL) season a few weeks ago.  I think this is the first time in my life I have ever felt this way.  Last year’s Nashville Predators run to the Stanley Cup final was an awesome experience.  I think the team will do pretty well but I won’t go as far as to say they will return to the final.  It’s a long season.  Nashville went absolutely crazy over the Predators last season.  It was amazing to see so many fans fill the streets of Nashville (and create additional traffic headaches) during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Predators should finish at least second in the Central Division standings.  It’s a tough division so they will be battle tested once again when the playoffs start in April.  I have always been a football fan but I have to admit that hockey has become a real close second.  There is a lot more action than football.  The only thing that keeps hockey from being my number one is the fighting.  I don’t like the fighting at all and most of the time there isn’t as much as at other times.  It’s still a great sport to watch in person.  Watching it on TV doesn’t do it justice.  My wife was never a fan until I took her to her first game.  Now she loves it.  She knows the players and is right there watching the games.  Until we moved to Nashville, I never really had a favorite hockey team to follow.  I liked the Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders when I was younger but I never got into it much until we moved to Nashville.  The Predators are definitely my favorite hockey team now.  For a guy to have Predators’ bedroom slippers and wear them proudly around the house, you know I have to be a fan!

 

#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: Making Safe Decisions

driving

Yesterday I was in the turn lane on Old Hickory Boulevard waiting to turn onto Highway 70 South when suddenly a car wedged in between me and the car ahead of me to go across to the Tigermarket on the other side of the road.  I did not see them coming from McDonalds on the opposite side.  I really didn’t think I had allowed enough space for someone to do that nor did I think I would have to.  The driver just zipped on through regardless of oncoming traffic.

It was not a wise decision but the driver made it to the Tigermarket only to use it as a shortcut to get onto Highway 70 South.

Wow.

And how many times has this happened – you are driving on the road and someone pulls in front of you which causes you to either brake lightly or quickly depending on their lack of depth perception.  Then to see that there are absolutely NO cars behind you and the driver would have had plenty of time to enter the roadway.

I have seen drivers take too many chances because of impatience or negligence.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.  Darting across four lanes of traffic just feet away from an intersection is not a safe choice.

Approximately 95% of all vehicle accidents are caused by indecision or poor decisions on the part of drivers.  That really isn’t a gamble worth taking.  Even if you aren’t injured in an accident, it is still very frustrating to deal with police reports and insurance companies.

Ways to make better decisions:

  • Be patient.  You’re not the only one on the road.
  • Don’t be distracted.  Keep your eyes and attention on the road.
  • Pull onto the roadway when it is safe.
  • Slow down.  Going faster doesn’t help your odds.
  • Use your signals and communicate effectively with other drivers.

On the other side of this issue, if you see someone making a bad decision, take the appropriate action to avoid an accident.  This means driving defensively and making allowances for the boneheads that shouldn’t be driving.

Be careful out there and be patient!

 

Driving 101: The Best Rule Of All

For the past several weeks, I have been written about various driving rules and laws that many people ignore.  I am not one that will say I am perfect in my driving habits.  I get impatient like everyone else and I will take shortcuts and get angry with other drivers.  While living in Nashville, I have found that most people out there basically will do whatever they want to do.  Forget the rules.  Ignore the fact that Nashville is supposed to be the “friendliest city in the United States” which I wonder if the ones who ranked it had to drive in the traffic.

Having been stuck in traffic, frustrated by those who disregard the right-of-way rules and impatience of others who do whatever they want, I can tell you that the best rule of all that should be followed can be summed up in this:

DO WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO

Simple.  The lines and signs are put on the roads for a reason.  Instruments are on our vehicles for a purpose in traveling on the public roadways.

  • Do what you are supposed to do…..USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..YIELD TO TRAFFIC WHEN YOU HAVE A YIELD SIGN.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..TAKE YOUR TURN AT THE 4-WAY STOP.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….PULL OVER AND STOP FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….STOP WHEN YOU HAVE THE RED LIGHT.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….SLOW DOWN WHEN IT IS RAINING.

I am sure there are others you can add to this list but these are the most common things I see everyday driving in and around the Music City.  I have lived in three cities over the past ten years and each one had their own issues.   In Macon, Georgia, drivers were notorious for tailgating,  in Tampa, Florida, they were impatient and in Nashville, they do whatever they want to do.    I guess it’s that country/renegade/rebel mentality.

I don’t know what’s happening with the “25-year plan” we heard about to improve traffic in Nashville but the fact is that Nashville is growing rapidly and the currently infrastructure for traffic is going to be a growing problem.   Instead of golf carts scampering around town or other non-standard forms of transportation, the city really needs a good plan for moving around the city.  There are too many cars and not enough space for them all.

In the meantime, drivers need to just simply do what they are supposed to do.

 

 

 

 

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: Right of Way

right-of-way

What is the right-of-way in driving?

I’m sure many Nashville drivers don’t have a clue what that is or think their way is the right way in traffic.

Seriously, there is a rule about the right-of-way.

Right-of-way are rules that help people drive safely when there is no traffic sign or direction for stopping or yielding to another vehicle.

At an intersection without a stop or yield sign, slow down and prepare to stop.  Yield to vehicles already in the intersection or entering it in front of you.  Always yield to the car that arrived first.  If you and another driver reach the intersection at the same time, yield if the car is on your right.

Don’t always assume people know this.  Use caution whenever you are confronted with these situations.  Don’t always insist on others going ahead of you.  If another vehicle expects you to take your legal turn, you might delay traffic by stopping or slowing unnecessarily.  Do what you are supposed to do.

At four-way stops, if you get there the same time as another vehicle, the vehicle on the left must yield the right-of-way.  The right vehicle has the right-of-way.

If a vehicle is turning in obeying a traffic signal, you must wait until they are cleared until you can make your move.  A vehicle must remain stopped until all cross traffic is gone.

In Nashville, it seems that the rule is do whatever you want to do or do it before the other person.  That’s not right-of-way.  If everyone would just do what they are supposed to do then traffic would flow better and our roads would be safer.

 

Driving 101: Navigating Pedestrians

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Another huge problem with driving in and around Nashville is the constant issues with drivers and pedestrians.  We have a lot of tourists and visitors here every week.  I have yelled at many people as a pedestrian myself when I have seen them walk when they aren’t supposed to.  On at least two occasions I have helped someone from being hit by a car.  Even as cautious and obey-by-the-rules guy that I am, I have also had my own close calls was distracted or aggressive drivers.

Here are the rules for dealing with pedestrians:

  • STOP for pedestrians at crosswalks.  Don’t roll through it or try to beat the pedestrian through the crosswalk.
  • Be patient, especially with seniors or pedestrians with disabilities who need more time to cross the road.
  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Yield to pedestrians when turning.  This is one of the most common problems.  Drivers do not want to wait for pedestrians to move safely through the crosswalk when turning.
  • Be especially alert at night.  Not all pedestrians will wear reflective clothing.

Even if pedestrians are not obeying the rules or the signs that are posted, drivers should still yield.  A pedestrian can’t compete in a game of chicken with an automobile.   Pedestrians are SUPPOSED to give the right of way to moving vehicles but it doesn’t always work that way.  If a pedestrian is already in the crosswalk and crossing then a driver must stop.

The main thing for drivers to have when navigating traffic with pedestrians is PATIENCE.  The city is a tourist attraction and there are going to be people downtown.  We all need to factor that into our drive and make sure that we all get to where we are going safely.

 

 

 

Driving 101:  How to Merge Onto the Interstate

Since moving to Nashville I have been taken by surprise the number of people who think that traffic on the Interstate is supposed to stop to let them on.  These people are not just irritated but totally appalled that traffic will not stop for them to get on.  Merging requires responsibility of BOTH drivers on and entering the roadway but never does it state that drivers on the interstate are supposed to stop.  Here are the correct rules about merging onto the interstate:

  1. If you are merging onto the highway, make sure you are going the same speed as the traffic on the highway.  That’s why it’s called the “acceleration lane” so you can gain speed where you’re entering the highway.  
  2. Put on your turn signal.  I know it sounds pretty obvious but the signal will get the attention of other driver’s of what you intend to do.  However, keep in mind that as the person merging, you do NOT have the right of way.  Other drivers are not expected to move out of the way.  It’s up to you to adjust your speed.
  3. Look for a gap in traffic.  Merge when you find a gap to safely do so.  Some think you are supposed to use all of the accerlation lane before you get over.  The rule is to get over when it is safe to do so.
  4. If you are on the highway, be alert to merging traffic.  Don’t be a jerk.  Create gaps in front and behind you.   This isn’t a competition or NASCAR event.  Ease off the gas a bit is someone is trying to merge onto traffic or speed up if that is the safer option.

Merging traffic does not have the right of way when entering the highway.  Many drivers are unaware that drivers currently on the highway have the right of way over cars entering it.  It is not the job of cars already on the highway to make room for cars entering.  If you happen to be entering one those lanes where the same lane is used for both entering and exiting the highway, the cars exiting the highway have the right of way over cars entering the highway.