I’ve spent the last several days on the road–five hours to and from Bryan, six hours to and from the farm–and I believe I’m qualified to make this statement: there are some crazy people on the road today.
Apparently folks need a refresher course in driver’s education, so here are a few pointers:
- It is not wise to pull out in front of someone who is going at least 75 miles per hour. You never know whether the brakes on the on-coming car work–or if the driver is inclined to use them.
- Assuming you ignored rule #1, keep in mind that it is not wise to go 40 mph in a 75 zone after interrupting the stride of the on-coming car. You never know when the driver of that car suffers from road rage and is willing to use his vehicle as a weapon of intimidation.
- Crowding the bumper of the car in front of you will not make all the cars in front of him go faster.
- If the person ahead of you is not breaking the speed limit enough to suit you, riding his bumper is not likely to make him go faster. Wait for the opportunity, then pass at the appropriate moment.
- The universal gesture for “get off the road, you moron” is inappropriate if you’re the moron.
- Don’t assume an older car has no power or is being driven by someone who isn’t willing to use that power. (I’d pit Mom’s 1997 Ford Crown Vic against many of the cars on the road today. She has taken excellent care of it, and that sucker can go from 0 to 60 in less than a blink and crank up over 90 in less than two.)
- If you’re in the wrong lane to make a turn, don’t cut within inches of an on-coming vehicle to make that turn. Wait until the coast is clear.
- If you’re playing your music loud enough to vibrate the floorboards of the trucks and cars surrounding you, you’re not likely to hear emergency vehicles–but you are likely to go deaf before you’re thirty.
I’m not one of those road-rage people who will use an expensive vehicle to intimidate others. I’m not one to gesture at the idiots on the road. But I do–in the safety of my own little car–call them jerks and morons and drive with a black cloud over my head until I get over the attempt on my life. I don’t take kindly to someone who is so self-absorbed that s/he doesn’t care about other people on the road. What kills me about those who drive so aggressively is that they believe themselves to be good drivers.
Years ago, the slogan was “Drive Defensively,” meaning we must understand that the drivers in the other vehicles are as likely to be morons as not, so we must be alert and aware and prepared for any stupid move those idiots may make. Being a good driver isn’t just getting from point A to point B without getting in an accident or getting a ticket. It means waiting until the coast is clear to change lanes or enter a lane. It means giving space between your vehicle and those in front of you. It means pausing for a beat when the red light turns green to make sure some jerk isn’t going to run through the red light facing his lane.
It requires an understanding that (1) we don’t own the road and (2) we must share the road with idiots who think they do.
Which leads me to this–a personal note to all the high school and college kids out there: You don’t own the road. You haven’t paid enough taxes to consider one yellow stripe yours, much less the entire highway system. So please drive defensively and keep your finger to yourself.