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Rules of etiquette on the road of life

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I do not consider myself an excellent driver. I am good, or maybe just OK — around a B-minus to a C-plus if I were giving out grades.

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I am not great at maneuvering into tight parking spaces or knowing when it is my turn at a four-way stop. I am unsure of the direction to rotate my steering wheel when parking on a hill. Despite my shortfalls, I do understand roadway etiquette, or the unwritten standards of protocol every license-wielding driver should abide by. Trouble is, lots of them don’t.

And we all know who they are — certainly not us, not ever.

Based on my near-death-due-to-frustration driving experiences over the past week, I decided to lay it out here. To put the pedal to the metal and tell it like it is. To provide the rules of the road, which aren’t rules, exactly, because most of them aren’t in any driving manual or rulebook, but they should be.

First, let’s talk texting. We understand we aren’t supposed to text and drive. We’ve taken the pledge. Still, I observe people doing it all the time. This is because the windows in your vehicle are transparent. I can see right through them. Being inside your car does not shield you in a cloak of invisibility. I can see when you pick your nose. I can see when you sing to the radio. I can see when you are texting; even if your phone is on your lap, your head is bent downward in the universal gesture of distraction. Stop it. Now. (Please.)

Speed is an issue when driving. Too much or too little can get you in trouble. The key here is moderation. If you go too fast, you are a danger. If you go too slow, you are a hindrance and a danger. I’ll let you in on a well-kept secret: When you are on a two-lane roadway, like a freeway, the left lane is for passing. It is called the fast lane and it’s named that for a reason.

On the other side of the speed bump, it is not OK to rev it up to 40 miles per hour in the grocery store parking lot. Really. Trust me on this one. You’re much more likely to make it to that primo parking spot in one piece if you take it easy and coast in at about 10 mph.

Left turns should be as simple as navigating a corner, but people get these wrong all the time. If you start on the inside lane, you should end your turn on the inside lane. Don’t swing it wide. When you do, you are taking up two lanes of traffic, which I’m pretty sure is illegal in at least some states. If you need to be in the outside lane, make your blinker feel loved and needed by using it, check over your right shoulder to make sure the coast is clear and shift lanes. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Then there’s the crime of pulling out in front of another vehicle. It’s happened to all of us. We are headed forward at a comfortable clip and a highly considerate — not to mention observant — driver pulls out directly in front of us. This is only the beginning of the etiquette breach. The driver then fails to increase speed at a reasonable rate and travels well under the posted speed limit for miles and miles. Anyone identify with me here? If you must pull out in front of me — and I highly discourage doing so — do not proceed at 15 miles per hour under the speed limit. If you are in such a hurry to pull onto the road, you better be in just as big a hurry to accelerate so I’m not inconvenienced by having to reach for the brake. Give me a break.

I am an average driver. Average in that I can parallel park — but only on a good day. Average in that I find my blood pressure increasing in direct proportion to the lack of roadway manners surrounding my vehicle. Average in that I wish every driver would realize we are all in a hurry to get to our destinations and the best way for us to do this is with a little courtesy, kindness and roadway etiquette.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication.” You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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