Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Common courtesy on the highway – is it even possible?


I live in an enormous metroplex area. Traffic is, usually, horrendous on all area freeways during the three-hour period surrounding rush hour. If there’s a wreck, you’d better hope you have a somewhat full gas tank. Patience wanes. Tempers flare. Crazy drivers prevail.

I am often amazed at the extent of the craziness. Recently we were on a toll road, and another car was in the lane next to us. As it was the middle of the day, both cars were moving at the posted speed limit (70 mph). Suddenly I hear the roar of a motorcycle – not in his own lane, but speeding between our car and the car next to us, doing at least 80. Did you catch that? Between the cars, literally driving on the dotted white line. One wrong move by any of these three vehicles and there would have been a horrible wreck, one that would have been burned into the mind of my children (riding in the back seat) for the rest of their lives. Complete and utter idiocy on the part of the motorcyclist.

What is it that makes a sane person act crazy once they get behind the wheel? I’d like to propose the following “rules of the road” for the freeway:

1 – If a driver is kind enough to slow down to let you merge into a lane, take 5 seconds to throw your hand up and wave “thanks”. Truly, it’s common courtesy. Likewise, if you’re driving and you see that someone needs over, has their blinker on, and they’re quickly running out of room, do something unexpected – slow down and let them over. Truly, it won’t hurt you. (See #4 below.)

2 – Related to #1 above, use your blinker. It’s not just for decoration. Don’t assume that other drivers know you need to change lanes if you don’t have your blinker on. And don’t get miffed if no one lets you in if you don’t use it. Again, it’s there for a reason – use it.

3 – Don’t think that just because you drive a fancy car - or a muscle car, or a truck with a lift kit that raises it 5 feet off the ground - that it means you have the right to be wherever you want to be (or do whatever you want to do) on the road. It’s a public road, not a private one with your name on it.

4 – It really does not make you a lesser person if you end up in the lane behind a minivan, or a little red truck, or a beat-up sedan. If you need to change lanes, take advantage of a wide open space – don’t try to force your way in front of the last car in line just because you don’t want to be “last”.

5 – If a lane is merging with your lane, and the cars in it have no place to go, it does not make you appear a better man (or woman) by preventing cars from merging.  In fact, it makes you appear like a jerk.

6 – Don’t text while you’re driving, or watch your smart phone screen in any other fashion. Beware that if it’s nighttime (or even twilight), it’s very obvious that you’re viewing your smart phone screen (those screens are bright).

7 – If you don’t know where you’re going, use a GPS. If you don’t have a GPS and you have to use a map, don’t try to unfold/fold/read a map while you’re speeding down the freeway at 70 mph. Or even 50. Or 40. Pull off the road, figure out where you need to go, then continue.

8 – Realize that if you drive like a maniac, you’re not only putting your own life in danger but also the lives of those around you. The person in the car next to you is someone’s mother, or grandfather, or daughter – not to mention any children.

9 – Know that if you’re in my area and I witness any of these things, I start praying for you since it’s likely that soon you’re going to cause a wreck. It’s also likely that you won’t be the one that’s seriously hurt – it will be the innocent who was unlucky enough to get in your way.

10 – Think about whether you would want a loved one to drive the way you drive. I constantly understand that if my children are with me in the car, I am demonstrating how to drive.

11 – Pay attention to the road. You are literally behind the wheel of a machine weighing tons ( If that’s not enough to convince you to drive safely, search for “texting and driving” or “distracted driving” on YouTube – it might save your life.

You would think all these things would be common sense. Evidently, that would be giving too much credit to the drivers in my area, because these are all things I’ve seen.

Can you tell my drive home today was less than stress-free?

Vent over.   :)


  1. You're right - it's amazing how selfish and thoughtless people get when they are on a mission to get someplace. People who are otherwise probably very nice. I would love if everyone would follow your suggested rules of the road!!

  2. A huge pet peeve of mine. I grew up near Detroit and I thought they were the rudest of all drivers. Then I moved to VA Beach. Ding, ding, ding...they are the new title holders. I could get a thank you wave from a gang banger in Detroit before I could from anyone here. lol

  3. My oldest daughter is learning to drive right now, and I'm trying to teach her defensive driving as she watches me to hopefully help her avoid wrecks.