Moving to the Metro Detroit area was definitely a big change, going from a relatively undeveloped area to one of the worst traffic situations in the country (behind only Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Boston and possibly NYC). Drivers here in southeast Michigan can be total jerks behind the wheel and I'm amazed we don't hear about more "Road Rage" incidents than we currently do. Some of the situations described here are common across the nation, but others I've only seen in this area and possibly the other areas I have listed above. So without further ado, here are my Driving "Do's and Do Nots"

FREEWAY / INTERSTATE HIGHWAY DRIVING

1. The Passing Lane Campers - These are the people who, on the freeway, get in the left-hand passing lane and go as slow as the traffic in the other lanes. This causes a backup of traffic moving at the speed limit or slightly above. It can cause a lot light flashing, horn honking, and obscene gesturing. For your information my father informed me that in Pennsylvania it is now a violation of state law to stay in the left lane if you are not actively overtaking another vehicle. When people perform this transgression, it can lead to several other items on my list including tailgating and right side passing.

2. Right Side Passing - This is a behavior that totally angers me almost instantly. It occurs when somebody is speeding on the freeway and they come upon a slower moving vehicle, and instead of passing on the left side they insist upon entering the right hand lane, zooming around the other vehicle, and then zipping back in between cars in the other lanes. It is really annoying when, driving in the center lane on the Ohio Turnpike, a car with Michigan (or Indiana or Illinois) plates comes up just as you are closing in on passing a Semi, zips around on the right, and cuts back in before reaching the truck, forcing you to slow down (hit the brakes, disengage cruise, etc.). I know that I don't help the situation any by thwarting these passers (speeding up so they can't get between me and the truck) but they royally piss me off so bad that I can't resist.

3. Ramp Nazis - Named after the "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld "No Soup For You!". These are the people who refuse to let cars over from the right hand lane when traffic is coming up the entrance ramp, thus forcing these people to be unable to yield right-of-way to the entering traffic (which I believe is law in many states). If you see somebody coming up the ramp, and there is a car in the right lane, and the left lane is clear, you SHOULD get over and let that car in the center lane, especially if the vehicle in the right lane is a Semi truck. Several reasons for this including a. Trucks have large blind spots, b. Trucks weigh considerably more than your car and would win in any pushing match, and c. Truckers have radios and if you piss them off enough they can ensure that you will be slowed down further up the road hehehe.

4. Tailgating - This usually occurs when you get behind a Passing Lane Camper (see number 1 above). Other traffic will back up behind you, some of them being the impatient sort who will drive as close as they possibly can to your rear bumper hoping that you will become uncomfortable with this and pull over allowing them to advance that oh so precious fifteen or twenty feet further up the line. Not only is this annoying and stupid, but it is extremely dangerous. If you are following that closely behind somebody, you cannot possibly see what is going on ahead (don't tell me you can, the laws of physics concerning light passing through solid objects will prove you a liar). Thus, if somebody 2 or 3 cars ahead suddenly hits the brakes (say they saw a dead chipmunk or something stupid, who knows? people jam the brakes on the freeway all the time) anyhow if they suddenly hit the brakes you will not see it until the car which is five feet in front of you hits the brakes and there's no way you'd be able to slow down before rear-ending that vehicle. On the police report guess who's listed "At Fault" for the accident? Not the car that got hit...

5. The Panic Effect (Aka People As Sheep) - This can be one of the most annoying and potentially dangerous events to happen on the freeway. This is what I call the situation where a police car has somebody pulled over to the side of the road writing them a ticket. Upon seeing said police cruiser, the whole line of brake lights will come on, even if the cars were not speeding, and traffic will slow down, often to 10 or 15 MPH below the posted limit. COME ON PEOPLE! He already has somebody pulled over he's NOT going to let that person go free just so he can chase you for doing a piddly 5 over the posted limit! I can understand slowing down for a police car sitting alone, hell the police sometimes use that tactic just to slow traffic without actually pulling anybody over, but in the situation described there is no reason to risk getting rear-ended.

SECONDARY ROADS / CITY DRIVING

1. Turning Lanes - Highway planners and Civic engineers are not idiots. They place turning lanes for a specific reason. That reason is this: when you wish to make a turn in heavy traffic, you should turn on your turn signal, pull into the turning lane, and THEN slow down to negotiate the turn or stop to wait for oncoming traffic. You should NOT slow down in the travel lane before pulling into the turning lane. Worse than that, you should NOT slow down in the travel lane AND neglect to turn on your turn signal. That's a good way to get hit, buddy. Another thing which I have witnessed, albeit more rarely, is the idiot who will start to slow down with no signal, come to a complete stop in the travel lane, wait for opposing traffic, and THEN cut across BOTH the turning lane and the opposing lanes to make the turn. Makes me wonder what flavor of snack mix comes with a driving license in the box.

2. The Temporary Cut-Off - This one is a total mystery to me. It pisses EVERYBODY off when it happens to them, but yet people still do it. This is when somebody pulls out directly in front of you, cutting you off and forcing you to slow down, and they they mosey on up the road at a leisurely pace for 100, 300 or 1000 feet, and then slow down and pull off. It makes no sense at all, if you're in such a hurry to get there, why do you drive slow for that short stretch? And if you're not in a hurry, why do you insist on cutting off the other car instead of waiting a few more seconds? I do not know what goes on in these peoples' heads, and frankly, I am afraid to ever find out.

3. The Line-Backer - This can be particularly annoying when you are trying to navigate in an unfamiliar area, and you realize that you need to be in the other lane within the next quarter mile, and you put on your turn signal to move over, and the people in the other lane close up the slack between them so tightly that there's no way you'll be able to pull into that lane. This is just downright rude. You wouldn't like it if someone did it to you, so why do it to somebody else? Everybody has been someplace where they didn't know the road, you shouldn't punish them for it. Unfortunately, Line-Backer mentality can also lead to the next situation...

4. The Nose-Over - This happens when somebody wants to change lanes and thinks that they will be blocked, so they just start to pull into the other lane anticipating that the other car will yield to avoid a collision. As stupid as it is dangerous, you are just opening yourself up to be involved in a collision and ruin your day as well as somebody else's. I have actually witnessed this situation result in a collision, which almost became a fist fight right on the road. Calm down people the roads are public property why can't we share them and be civil about it?

5. Red Light Racers - These are the people who wait eagerly for the light to turn green, and then jam on the accelerator and launch forward just to come to a stop at the next light when they catch it red as well. This behavior is hard on your vehicle, alternately revving up the engine and jamming the brakes will make both wear out sooner. Also, it can be counter-productive on certain streets where the city engineers carefully timed the lights. On these streets, setting out from a green light and driving the speed limit will allow you to catch all the lights green and thus not have to stop. However if you engage in red light racing you will exceed the speed limit and still catch the lights red, which will cause the non-speeding traffic to slow down every time they come up on your stopped vehicle. I was once rear-ended by a red light racer while stopped behind a long line of traffic at a red light, he was speeding up from the last light and didn't slow down in time. Ruined both our days, dented my bumper, totally demolished the front half of his mini-van. Lesson learned? I hope so.

6. Cell Phones - These things just seem like a bad idea. It's no wonder that it's illegal to use them while driving in several foreign countries and in some American small towns. People claim that using the phone while driving does not impair their driving at all. This is pure Bull. I have seen people chatting on the phone driving so slow they were disrupting traffic. I have seen people chatting on the phone miss an exit ramp, swerve to catch it, and nail the abuttment at the end of the guardrail. I have seen people chatting on the phone come up on somebody too fast, lock up the brakes, and end up in the ditch. And I have seen people chatting on the phone sit stopped at a light for a minute after it turns green totally pissing off the cars behind. It all makes me want to scream out "HANG UP AND DRIVE!!!" The same problems ring true for eating at the wheel, applying makeup in the rear-view mirror, trying to shave on the way to the office, and fumbling around trying to find your cigarettes. All of these are things you should not do while driving a car.

7. Turn Signals - Turn signals are installed on every vehicle sold in the United States. Their intended purpose is to indicate to other drivers your intention to turn, implying that you will be slowing down, thus warning them to slow down and not hit you. This being said, turn signals should ALWAYS be used when planning to turn off the road, they should be turned on BEFORE your foot ever touches the brake pedal, and they should NOT be left on if they fail to turn off automatically.

This has been a rant by Chuck. It is not personally aimed at any one person or group of people. However, if you take issue with this you may e-mail me at webmonkey@sleeptilnoon.com, and I may or may not respond.


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