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.

 

 

#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: Adjusting to Road Conditions

winter-drivingTwo weeks ago we had snow and ice on Nashville area roads.  This past week we have had rain.  The one thing that you will notice about driving – nothing changes.  People will drive the same without regard to the road conditions.  You will also look at the map and see traffic accidents lighting up the roads.  Why?  Most drivers are arrogant and think they can drive in any condition.  I have yet to see any vehicles with skis on the roads.  You can’t rely on rubber tires to make you invincible.

Does anyone really know the rules about driving in these weather conditions?

Here are some tips:

  • Slow down (yeah, you see this one showing up in any of my Driving 101 entries)
  • Turn on lights and wipers
  • Increase following distance to four seconds
  • Avoid puddles
  • Beware of misty rain even when it stop raining
  • Be prepared to handle a skid safely
  • Beware of icy patches or black ice

Skidding or hydroplaning is always possible when the roads are slick.  Here is what you are to do:

  1. Don’t slam on your brakes.  Braking triggers slides and makes it worse.
  2. Turn into the slide.  Turn your wheels in the direction the back of the vehicle is sliding.
  3. Don’t panic or overcorrect.

Above all, the main point to remember is:  SLOW DOWN.   Adjust your speed to safely match the weather conditions, road conditions, visibility and traffic flow.  Excessive driving speed in bad road conditions increase the chances for fatal crashes to 25 percent more than in normal road conditions.

When the conditions are not ideal, adjust to those conditions.  Give yourself time to stop and more time to respond to what you see ahead of you.  Assume nothing.  Arrive safely.

 

 

 

Driving 101:  New Year’s Resolutions For Drivers

As we enter 2017, it won’t be long until the holidays are behind us and we get back into the usual daily driving routines in the Music City.  The light traffic over the past two weeks were nice but soon we will be reminded why traffic is a pain here. 

While most people have a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, I have come up with some for Nashville drivers:

  1. Be more patient on the roads.  Instead of being quick to get angry at other drivers, practice a little patience. 
  2. Slow down.  Don’t drive so fast.  We are all trying to get somewhere too. 
  3. Do what you are supposed to do.  You know the rules – follow them. 
  4. Wait before you honk.  Don’t be so quick to lay on the horn unless it’s absolutely necessary. 
  5. Don’t drive so aggressively.  This isn’t a NASCAR race.  It’s okay to let people in front of you.  
  6. STOP RUNNING RED LIGHTS!
  7. Let it go. When someone cuts you off let the rage go.  It isn’t worth it to escalate the situation.  

If Nashville is truly the most friendliest city in the United States, why don’t we start driving like it?

Happy New Driving Year everyone!

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.