Driving in traffic is the most powerful combination of intimacy, anonymity, and danger in our society. That is why I am intolerant of inadequate driving choices. Do you want to die because of the idiotic actions of another? Do you want to kill someone because of your own idiotic actions? So often we hear “oh, what a tragedy” or “how did that happen?” when people express their horror and sadness at the effects of “accidents” of driving. (They’re not really accidents when the vast majority of these sad events are entirely avoidable and occur solely because of the excruciatingly poor choices of individuals.) One of my favorite comedians, Louis C.K., referred recently to driving as “driving a weapon.” Now Louis doesn’t get full credit for this reference – I have been referring to driving in traffic as “piloting a weapon” for many years – but perhaps his visibility may allow a sliver of thought to actually penetrate the titanium bubble most of the public keep ferociously and tightly clasped about their brains.
Here are some driving tips that must be very well kept secrets – so hopefully letting the cat out of the bag will benefit our oh-so-conscientious driving public. As you will see, there are common threads throughout these little secrets. Every one of the following examples actually did happen to me today, Wednesday, August 7, 2013. These kinds of things happen literally every single day, multiple times, to myself and other drivers around me. I do actually believe that the vast majority of the time the intent of sad examples of ghastly driving perpetrated by the majority of the American public includes no real viciousness – but likely does stem from the thoughtless selfishness prevalent throughout our society, touched perhaps with a bit of immature “oooh look what I did – hee hee!” However, thoughtless acts are not excused by rationalizations such as “but I was just …” – the individuals making these choices (yes, they are always choices, however unconsciously made) are responsible for the outcomes.
1) If there are two left turn lanes, and you know that right after you turn left you will want to be making a right very quickly, GET IN THE LEFT TURN LANE THAT IS ON THE RIGHT HAND. Today as I was leaving the Orange County airport at about 3:30pm, after dropping off a friend, I was making a left turn in the right hand lane going out onto MacArthur, and there was a large blue pickup truck in the left hand lane beside me – after we made our left turns, the cretinous driver proceeded to nearly crash into me and drive me into the other cars on the road as he decided to careen around me and across several lanes through traffic over to the right to get on the freeway – gee that was so fun. In the same vein, there are two left turn lanes going from Jamboree onto Bristol, and literally every single time I make that left turn in the right-hand lane, there are people who are making the left turn in the left-hand lane and then expecting to shove through me to make the immediate right turn into the shopping center – it amazes me every time. As you might guess, the same thing happens, again literally every time, when I make the left from Bristol onto Jamboree, and I am this time in the left-hand lane, and after we make our left turns the drivers in the right-hand lane think it’s a great idea to immediately attempt to shove through me to go to the left side of the road. The really important thing to remember about these situations is the fact that, when you miss your turn, you may not endanger or inconvenience others with your error – you are morally obligated to proceed further along the road to find an opportunity – a safe opportunity – to turn around and, remember safely, make your way back to your intended path.
2) If the car in front of another car changes lanes, that does not constitute justification for a third car to zip in literally inches in front of the remaining car, often jamming into an inadequate space and always committing a totally and unjustifiably dangerous maneuver, totally unexpected by the driver who has been endangered. Today, when a car in front of me went into the left turn lane to our left, an apparently unconscious driver zipped in right in front of me literally inches before a red light, and I had to react immediately to this bit of unexpected endangerment. Do not zip in front of other cars. I think there is something in the Driver’s Handbook about that one … some tidbit about seeing the car in the rear view mirror and, oh yes signaling before, yes I believe it is before and NOT AFTER, moving your car in front of the other car in traffic.
3) You may have noticed that, when there is no car behind you and several cars ahead of and around you, it is almost a universal that a typical driver will boogie on up and attempt to squeeze in inches ahead of you into the small space right in front of you, often right before zipping further over to make a turn or even tearing back across to the other side of the road. Did you recall that I started this example with the fact that there is no car behind you to start with, thus providing a freely safe and accessible path for the other driver to proceed over to accomplish their ultimate turn? If room is available, take the path that uses the abundantly available space behind the car in the other lane – do not jam in front of another car when there is enormously available room behind that car.
There are doubtless innumerable other secrets we can all share with the driving public – these three particular situations just happened to be the three most vivid ones that happened to me TODAY.