Our automotive expert suggests you own up if you’re guilty of any of these.
To relax in the evenings, I sometimes like to watch Russian car dashcam videos on YouTube. While the Russian standard of driving is even worse than our own, they repeatedly do the same stupid things that I also see here.
I’m not talking about texting or driving drunk. It’s the things people do who aren’t considered sociopaths that bother me. Here are some of them:
1. Letting someone out/letting someone turn.
I have personally witnessed two accidents when a kindhearted moron lets someone into traffic from a driveway or side street. Letting someone coming the other way turn in front of you is even worse. The problem is that other drivers don’t know why you’re stopping, and your car prevents them from seeing what’s going on.
2. Passing wrong.
Do not pass on the right. Do not go around someone who is turning, or even slowing down suspiciously near a turn (see #4). Do not pass in a no-passing zone. Do not pass multiple cars at once. Imagine this: You, responsible motorist, are at the head of a line of cars, waiting politely to turn left. Like most people you don’t think to look for someone coming down the road in the wrong lane, but that’s what the person passing a line of traffic does. Wait 13 freaking seconds, go around safely and someone still has their mommy tonight.
3. Turning wrong.
Turn left from the left lane and right from the right lane. Do nothing else. Even when you are turning correctly, watch out for the brain-dead mulyak who’s passing you on the shoulder or passing in a no-passing zone (#2). Learn to check your mirrors before turning and always watch for cars going the wrong way at high speed. And use your signals.
4. Disrespecting trucks.
Most accidents involving tractor trailers happen at low speed, when a car comes up beside them in a turn. They cannot see you at all. A second class of dopes don’t realize that trucks are heavy and can’t stop or turn on a dime, so they pull in front to turn and other dumb things. Someone was rear-ended by an LPG gas tanker literally outside my office when I was writing this. I’m not too proud to say I screamed and ran away.
5. Riding a motorcycle irresponsibly.
Lane-splitting may be legal in some places, but no one in a car is looking for something coming up the line between them and another car, or on the outside line. You MUST wear head-to-toe hi-vis colors, full armor or leathers, boots, gauntlets and a full-face helmet at all times if you want to survive the next 72 hours. Motorcycles do not belong in any kind of American high-speed traffic—if you’re a rider, you know this or are repressing it. Sorry. Save it for the backroads.
6. Bad tires and other equipment.
You would not believe how many people slide gracefully off the road and into a feeding tube because they’re on bald tires. Hydroplaning is more likely the faster you’re going, when a gentle curve in the dry suddenly becomes the last moment of your life. Put in 5,000K (bright white) headlamp bulbs unless you already have HID headlamps and buy expensive wiper blades. And for the love of Pete get your shocks checked. Shocks are what keep your tires in contact with the road.
7. First one/last one through the light.
Ms. First One Into The Intersection and Mr. Last One Through The Yellow have a date with destiny. A yellow light means “Stop if you are able.” Do that and let someone else go first when it turns green, so they can absorb a T-boning from an Escalade.
8. Failure to yield.
Two of you are trying to occupy the same space. Two of you are stubborn idiots, and now there’s a fender-bender tying up traffic for everyone. Now idiot #3 is on the way at 70 mph and is about to make Ball of Flame #4 out of all of you when he plows into this mess. Here’s the rule for merging in slow traffic: Take turns, as you learned in kindergarten. In fast traffic, maintain a constant, consistent speed and let mergers adapt to you.
9. Failure to accelerate.
There are times when speed is your friend. Like merging onto the highway—the idea is for you to get up to highway speed on the onramp and enter traffic at the same speed it’s going. Don’t enter slow and become a rolling roadblock or creep down the ramp. Gird your loins and hit the gas.
10. Refusal to accept the consequences of your actions.
Have you ever seen (or been) someone stopped just past an exit? You missed your exit. Accept it, go to the next exit and no not back up. If you’re about to miss your turn, do not brake hard, cross a lane and try to make it. Do not make a U-turn. Unless you’re taking someone with a collapsed lung to the hospital, the two extra miles (or 20...I once went 46 miles to make it back to my exit) you have to go are not going to ruin your life.