I spent a good part of this previous weekend driving on the interstate. In fact, I've spent a good part of the last couple of years driving on the interstate. Actually, I'm fairly certain that among my peer group I have quite a bit more miles under my belt than most -- not all -- but most. I have never been intimidated by a road trip; usually I enjoy them quite a bit. Lately however, I have become painfully aware that the bulk of people who are using the interstate are not road trippers, nor local drivers, they are commuters who have their heads up their asses so far they can see out their mouths! I have some tips for those folks, and for the driver's license bureau and for law enforcement - and after composing this post in my head in betwixt speaking to my windshield last weekend about courtesy, logic, and basic driving skills - I decided to recreate here for you my readers, the masterpiece that kept me sane during my most recent interstate adventure.
Let me start by stating that it should be a damn sight more difficult to get a driver's license - please driver's license folks, make it more difficult, and test the drivers more rigorously, including highway driving, merging, and mountain driving.
Second, please law enforcement, I realize that you are trying to generate revenue and that speeding is both easier to prove and more lucrative, but would you please please please crack down on impeding traffic and tailgating -- which in my opinion probably cause far more accidents than the folks who are exceeding the speed limit but moving with traffic.
Lastly, to the legislators of Colorado -- would you make it illegal, and a HUGE fine so that law enforcement will want to ticket it, for semi-trucks to impede traffic by using the #1 lane to pass - in fact I would be delighted if they never ever got in the #1 lane again in my lifetime - even if they are shipping the last drops of bourbon to my local liquor store.
Now to my fellow drivers (I use the term driver loosely - as most of you are operating a motor vehicle but how you are going about it really should be deemed criminal and not have any sort of title that implies there is any skill involved) - a list of the things that all 'drivers' should know (but obviously don't):
1] It is not your fucking job to police the highway, stay the fuck out of the #1 lane if you are not moving with traffic -- if you are holding anyone up behind you (regardless of how reckless you think their preferred speed is) - you are impeding traffic and creating a dangerous situation for ALL of us. Move the fuck over -- ps. the person behind you flashing his brights/lights in your rear-view mirror (that's the one you may have been using to apply makeup or floss your teeth) wants you to move over, they are not greeting you, they are not warning the drivers in the opposite direction of some danger ahead of them - they want you to move the fuck over.
2] Passing on the right is more dangerous, please don't sit there and think "I'm doing the speed limit, if they want by me that badly, the maniac can pass on the right" -- seriously, you are endangering yourself dumbass - just move over and let the maniac by
3] You should be aware of EVERYONE else around you -- I know this sounds a lot like oh -- logic, and it might be too much for your pea-brains -- but use your WHOLE windshield to see everyone in front of you, on-coming traffic as well as all the lanes around you. Use your rear-view mirror to see everyone behind you, all lanes, yes really ALL lanes, and yes the people behind you do matter. Use your side-view mirror (I know this is a tough one, because apparently, no one knows they are there, or how to adjust them or something) all the time, not just while you are backing into your garage stuffed with shit or when you are changing lanes -- you should actually be looking in them when you are moving forward also, so that you are aware of EVERYONE around you - front, back, sides.
3A] Blind spots -- look it up, find out what they are, figure out where yours are, figure out where the most common ones are for other vehicles and then genius -- stay out of them for your own safetly and mine. I want to buy an old boat, like a Ford LTD station wagon and then I want to swerve toward every dumbfuck on the road that thinks sitting in my blindspot is the best place to drive
4] Merging - (this could be a post by itself). This is the action required to join traffic on a highway (and often times other busy thoroughfares). The idea is that you will 'merge' with traffic. Thus you have to use a little brain power in order to determine at what velocity the traffic you are trying to join is travelling and then attempt to achieve that same velocity while placing yourself adjacent to an opening between cars so that you can move over effortlessly and take that opening without causing anyone, including yourself, to use their brake pedal.
4A] You are the merger, to do this entirely correctly, you are at the mercy of the existing traffic driving well. Assuming they are, and that traffic engineering has designed a decent interchange with a lane that can be used to accelerate to the appropriate speed, you should NEVER:
a) stop at the end of the acceleration/merging lane - no really, you aren't supposed to stop and then wait an eternity for a large enough space to move into it doing oh say 5-10 mph, still causing everyone behind you to brake.
b) try to race to get the space that is just a bit further forward but causes you to impede the traffic already on the highway (seriously, your penis will not shrink if you aren't the furthest car forward)
c) just move over and hope all those idiots get out of your way - I know, it's hard sometimes not to think, "by God my ancestors settled this land, and I will use it anyway I want" - but those idiots are already on the highway and you aren't, thus they have 'right-of-way'
4B] You are in the far right lane (assuming you actually belong there - which you probably don't) and you are approaching an on-ramp area. NEVER:
a) Race the cars that are merging so that they by god do not get in front of you (again, your penis will NOT shrink if someone gets in front of you)
b) Slam on your brakes to allow someone in, thus causing the 756 cars behind you and next to you to brake (whether they need to or not) in a delayed domino pavlovian response to the red lights and also impeding all that traffic -- there's a good chance that the driver you are braking for was planning on getting in behind you, and now they have to slow down to do that -- screwing up everyone else behind them on the exit, and of course the space behind you is now too small because you slowed down more than the driver behind you.
4B] continued - you should ALWAYS:
c) move over to the left, out of the way, if you can do so without causing some other problem
0R d) MAINTAIN YOUR SPEED - so that the drivers who are merging have some sort of constant they can rely on in order to make it as painless as possible for everyone else
5] Passing - seems simple really, and yet, clearly no one actually gets it. Passing is done when you desire to go faster than the other drivers on the road. You might be a fucking maniac who wants to way out-drive the conditions, frankly if that's the case, I want you to pass and get way far from me, I don't want to drive near maniacs. Alas, I digress -- passing should be done with some regard for the other drivers on the road as well as considering your own safety. This requires a novel subject covered earlier -- visibility. While passing - you should not climb up the ass of, and give a rectal exam to, the vehicle in front of you -- you will actually have much much better visibility if you begin to pass them from a couple of car lengths back. Passing should only be done when you will actually be going faster than the vehicle you are passing when you are done. Passing is not a way to say "hey, you in the old lady car, I have a red sports car and if I don't pass you my penis will fall off". My old lady car has a V-8 engine and cruises down the highway at a remarkably comfortable speed and when I hit a little dip in the road I barely feel it and I don't have to overcorrect my steering because of it. Your little red sports car, while it may be cute, is not actually nearly as comfortable, and I'm sick you passing me and then slowing down because the bumps and rises are causing your car to handle poorly. Lastly, passing is passing -- not moving over into the #1 lane because you were going faster than that big green tractor 456 miles back and you just haven't moved over yet, even though that was actually in a different state. Move back over genius, really you can pass again, might help you stay awake.
A few more specific items:
On a single-lane highway (this means one lane each direction, not just one terrifying 500 mile long game of chicken) -- You can only pass when the dashed lines tell you it's okay -- most people seem to get this. What they don't seem to get is this -- if someone behind you is going to pass, it is preferable that you actually maintain your speed while they are passing you in the oncoming lane, or even move a bit to the right, if safe to do so, and maybe just let off the gas a bit, making their adventure in the oncoming lane a wee bit shorter. Accelerating and racing them, is well really fucking rude and dangerous. Stop it.
On a two-lane highway (again, two lanes that are going YOUR direction) -- you should stay right except to pass. This is actually UNIVERSAL, pretty sure if we ever colonize Mars there will be "stay right except to pass signs" on the highways there. If you are the faster driver this may mean going back and forth between the two lanes quite a bit, however, you may be the faster driver, but not the fastest driver, and if I have to slow my ass down to 2 miles over the speed limit because you think that you have the "right" to be in the #1 lane, I'm going to be very irritated, which is not optimal for everyone's safety, because I could get distracted composing a blog post about rude ass drivers.
On a three(plus)-lane highway (see above) -- you should only be in the far right lane if you are going slower than most traffic, approaching your exit, towing something, a wide load (and perhaps a couple of others). Most people who are moving with traffic belong in the middle lane(s). If you are in the far right lane, you will have to vary your speed more frequently for the slower drivers and those who are merging. However, you also do not belong in the far left lane unless you are passing. In an ideal world, I would not be in the far left lane for hundreds of miles at a time wishing the dumb ass in front of me would move over -- but in Colorado (not the city mind you, the highway north of Denver to Ft. Collins and the highway south of Denver to Pueblo and we won't even go to I-70 because that requires speaking about airport traffic or mountain traffic and my brain will explode), apparently everyone thinks that I-25 is just a little bit wider version of Wadsworth without the traffic lights. UGH.
I realize that all of you reading this don't think it applies to you, but let me offer this -- if more than 50% of the users of our highways suck at driving, then chances are you might suck and commit one of these faux pas'.
ps. Wyoming -- the moment I cross the state line everything improves, I remember when I learned to drive in Colorado, we drove that way too. Don't ever encourage folks to move there, you will regret the negative effect on your highways.
#1 Lane -- also referred to by many as the 'fast lane' -- which is in many cases an oxymoron, lanes are numbered starting on the inside - learn this, it may come in handy
Rear-view mirror -- the mirror that should be affixed to the top center of your windshield and should, if properly adjusted, allow you to see nearly everything that can be seen out of your rear-windshield.
Side-view mirror -- those are the TWO mirrors on the 'side' of your vehicle, one of them usually says something like "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" or some crap like that. These are not only for backing up folks, they are also for seeing beside your car.
Right-of-Way -- This concept seems to be lost on almost all drivers, but in particular women at traffic circles and in parking lots and men on the highway -- all women think if they cede right of way they won't get the last of the sale item they are seeking and all men think if they cede right of way their penises will fall off and be replaced by a big pink fluffy bow -- this simply isn't true. It's actually one of those awesome Karma opportunities, cede right of way, and you may find yourself winning a prize at the store and maybe you will get some when you get home.