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THE DRIVING TOP TEN

BRYCE ON TRANSPORTATION

– What drives me wild on the open road.

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I recently drove from the South to the Midwest and back again. It has been quite a while since I’ve driven a long distance (about 1,000 miles each way) and it caused me to remember why I don’t like to take such trips anymore. We all have our own little idiosyncrasies for driving; for example, older people tend to move more slowly and cautiously than younger people who race pell-mell down the highway; and people tend to drive according to the customs of the geographical region they come from. Nonetheless, I have assembled a “Top 10” list of the basic driving habits irritating me and, if corrected, would make driving a lot more bearable for all of us. There is nothing earth-shattering here, just some observations on common driving deficiencies:

10. TURN SIGNALS – I guess I’m among the few people who still know what that little stick to the left side of the steering column is all about. It amazes me how many people do not use turn signals anymore. Maybe its because most of us are driving with one hand on the steering column and talking on a cell phone with the other. I guess letting another driver know where you are turning pales in comparison to asking Aunt Edna what to pick up at the grocery store. I tend to believe people who drive with a stick shift are more inclined to use turn signals as they are less likely to be talking on the phone as they are shifting (although I have seen it done). As trivial as the turn signal appears to be, it is a simple and effective means of communicating to other drivers what your intentions are, be it a turn or a lane change, but I think most drivers just want to keep others guessing what they are doing.

9. TAILGATING – You see this a lot in situations where younger and more aggressive drivers are frustrated with the old codgers driving below the speed limit. Its a little nerve-racking seeing someone draft another car like it was the Daytona 500. It makes you wonder why there aren’t more accidents. Maybe the best way to overcome this problem is to assign times during the day when we are allowed to drive, thereby overcoming the problem of different driving speeds; for example:

AgeMorningLunchtimeDinner

16-226:00am – 7:30am11:30am – 12:00pm3:00pm – 4:30pm
23-657:30am – 9:00am12:00pm – 1:00pm5:30pm – 7:00pm
66-909:00am – 11:30am1:00pm – 3:00pm4:30pm – 5:30pm

You are on your own anytime between 7:00pm – 6:00am.

8. OBNOXIOUS TRAFFIC LIGHTS – This is more of a problem with the Department of Transportation than a particular set of drivers. I don’t know who programs the traffic lights these days, but someone seems hell bent on gnarling traffic during rush hour. Maybe its a game someone is playing with us as to who can cause the biggest traffic build up. I’ve had people tell me that traffic lights are becoming very expensive. If this is true, maybe it would be more economical to replace them all with traffic cops who at least know what they are doing. I realize we have some pretty sophisticated computer technology to help us with traffic but I for one don’t see how it is helping us. When it comes to traffic control, I still don’t believe a computer can match the commonsense of a human being.

7. WEAVING – No, I’m not talking about drunk drivers driving erratically on the highway. Instead, I’m talking about the younger people who are weaving between lanes at breakneck speed, either on motorcycles or high performance vehicles. Weaving has become somewhat of a national pastime on our interstate highways, a dangerous game of “Chicken” that could kill not just the drivers, but the other innocent drivers who are trying to mind their own business as well. Why can’t they just stay home and do this on their X-Box or Playstation as opposed to driving the rest of us crazy?

6. LOST “OUT-OF-TOWNERS” – You know what I mean; those people who are just plain lost and instead of reading a map, they are content to slow down at every intersection to see if this is the road they should turn into. Wouldn’t it be nice if the out-of-towners simply drove in the right-hand lane with their emergency signals flashing to let us know they are lost and to avoid them? It will never happen.

5. RUBBERNECKING – This drives me particularly crazy as I have been tied up in miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic too many times only to discover that drivers were rubbernecking to look at some insignificant problem on the highway. I don’t care if the problem is large or small, keep your eyes looking forward and drive the car. You can always read about the accident in tomorrow’s newspaper. Hey, maybe that’s it: Instead of sending out a tow-truck or emergency vehicle to the site of a problem, let’s rush a news team to the site first so they can report on the accident which the other drivers can tune into on their radios.

Rubbernecking turns small problems into larger ones.

4. LACK OF COMMON COURTESY – How many times have we seen people cut off others, or someone not allow another driver to enter traffic? Far too many I’m afraid. I tend to believe how we drive is a reflection of our socialization skills. As opposed to cooperating, we tend to viscously compete on the roadways which, of course, leads to road rage. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had some other signal to use other than the one finger salute?

3. SLOW TURNS – Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of drivers who don’t seem to know how to make a turn. Instead of just slowing down a bit before making their turn, I’m seeing people come to almost a standstill; kind of like having an invisible red light they are obeying. I hope they are not seeing something that I’m not.

2. EXPRESS LANE DRIVERS – Another name for the express lane is “passing lane” which perhaps more accurately describes the intent of the left lane on our highways. It disturbs me when it isn’t used for this purpose. For example, some people get into the express lane and do nothing more than the speed limit, if that. They act like a pace car when the danger flags are out. I don’t know why they do this other than they want to deliberately irritate the other people driving around them. It is kind of like them saying prissily, “Well the speed limit is 55 and I’ll be damn if I’ll let anybody go faster than that.” I just wish I had a James Bond type of car where the rear axle would extend with knives on the end to rip out their tires.

1. CELL PHONES – Well, Duh!! What did you think my number one would be? I wish I had a jamming device which would shutdown all cell phones around me when I’m driving. This would force the other drivers to use both hands on the wheel and concentrate on traffic.

The rules and regulations of the road are really not that complicated. I remember when I first took the written test when I turned 16. The one section I found humorous is where they asked you to identify various street signs. For the “Crossroad” sign they gave you the following multiple choices: 1-Crossroad ahead, 2-Church ahead, 3-A person died on this spot. I wonder how many people got this wrong? Interestingly, I remember the Valedictorian of my High School class (a real “Brainiac”) failed the written test three times. I guess he was looking for the meaning of life in a stop sign.

Driving should be a simple and pleasurable experience. Unfortunately, it’s not. It seems we go out of our way to misinterpret the rules or devise our own on the fly. Which makes me wonder who is passing out the drivers licenses: 1-Homer Simpson, 2-American Foundation for the Blind, 3-Your local gas station attendant (Hint: we haven’t had gas station attendants in 30 years).

Back in 1965, CBS aired the National Drivers Test during prime time, the purpose of which was to educate adults and try to determine the level of driver competency. This was well received and helped improve awareness of basic driving techniques. Sounds like it’s about time CBS ran it again.

First published: August 13, 2007

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

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Tim is a writer and management consultant located in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.


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