Some Polite Reminders on Driving Etiquette

It’s my opinion that driving in general is getting worse.  I think a lot of this is not due to people being bad drivers, per se, but to people being inconsiderate drivers.

I’m not saying I’m the Best Driver in the World, but I do try to be as considerate as I can be and follow the law and road rules.

Turn signals / indicators.  The lovely people who designed cars put turn signals on cars for a reason.  This is so you can let others know your intentions.  See, when you don’t put any indicators on, I’m assuming (as another driver) that you are not turning.  Contrary to popular belief, neither I nor anyone else I know can read minds.  So, when you’re coming around the traffic circle / roundabout or you are in a lane that can possibly go straight or turn off, it’d be great if you used that little stick poking out from your steering wheel column to let the rest of us know what you are actually doing.

P.S.  Please also use it correctly and as per the road rules, i.e. indicating your entry into the roundabout and your leaving from the roundabout.

P.P.S.  For more than 2 seconds.

P.P.P.S.  Don’t give me a filthy look if you haven’t indicated and I act according to your lack of indication.

Letting other people in.  Okay, so it’s really nice if you are stuck at an intersection where you don’t have a stop or give way / yield sign but the cross-traffic people do have one to let that person through or to turn into your lane; however, you should only do this if you would be blocking the intersection (and that person) by pulling up behind the car in front of you.

Please do not stop during rush hour to let someone who has a compulsory stop in if there’s no one in front of you.  See, you have 9 million cars behind you, and those nice people who designed the intersection in the first place put the stop sign / yield sign / give way sign there to ensure the flow of traffic moves to reduce congestion.  The cross road most likely does not have even remotely close to the same volume of traffic as the road you are on.  By you stopping and letting someone in who has a compulsory stop (because you feel you are being nice to that one driver), you are actually inconveniencing dozens to hundreds of other drivers behind you and adding to congestion.

(Just think about this logically for ten seconds and you’ll get it.  It’s not mean not letting those people in.  They have a stop sign for a reason.)

Don’t dawdle.  If you aren’t comfortable driving the speed limit on a fine, sunny day, that’s fine.  But use your rear view mirrors and look out your wind-shield.  If you see 20 cars piled up behind you, no cars in front of you for quite a way, and there is a lot of oncoming traffic, do the decent thing and pull over so those 20 cars behind you can pass you.

Don’t tailgate.  See, you being on my rear bumper will not make the 10 cars in front of me go any faster.  We’re all travelling 10 kph above the speed limit, anyway.  I suggest you do that too.

Bigger isn’t always better.  Great, you have an SUV, which is bigger than my Honda Accord.  That doesn’t excuse you from obeying the same road rules.  See, trucks are bigger than SUVs, and the vast majority of them obey the road rules.  And just because my car is smaller, and you have a tank of a car, doesn’t mean that my car can’t do some pretty serious damage to you and your car in the perfect accident.

Put your cell phone away.  There’s nothing so important that you need to break the law to text on your phone.  The text will be there when you get to wherever you are going.  Your inattention could kill you and me both.

P.S.  A lot of us know you are using your phone, even if we can’t see it.  I think the vast majority of people are not that interested in their steering wheel that they stare at the bottom portion of it, eyes flitting up to watch the road every few seconds, for nearly a minute at a time.

Stay on your side of the road.  Just because a car or delivery truck or cow or whatever is blocking your side of the road, it does not give you automatic rights to swerve into the oncoming traffic’s lane to get past.  If I’m in my lane coming towards you, and your lane is blocked, I have the right-of-way.  Get a little bit of patience and wait until oncoming traffic has passed.  Passing a stationary car and a moving one in your lane have the same rules.

Drive to the conditions.  Last winter, we had a good dumping of snow, probably in the region of 6 to 8 inches.  Christchurch doesn’t have snow plows, and the authorities told people to stay home if they could.  This didn’t stop some of the SUV brigade (and some other idiots) from deciding that driving the speed limit or above in 0C weather (i.e. freezing) with 8 inches of snow on the ground and poor visibility thinking they should be able to go out and drive like morons.  The result?  A family in a Beemer tried driving down our street at normal speed.  When they saw a pick-up truck approaching the intersection (and the pick-up truck had the right-of-way), the Beemer driver tried to stop at the give way / yield sign.  The BMW slid right through the intersection, t-boning the pick-up truck so hard that the Beemer ended up about 20 feet back from the intersection with the hood bent up like an upside-down V and the pick-up truck had its drive-shaft broken into two.  The people in the Beemer were crappy about the whole thing, but everyone who approached from the surrounding houses (including Noel, me, James, and many other neighbours) pointed out had they listened to authorities and not gone out or even, you know, drove to the freaking conditions, they wouldn’t be in the situation they were in.  (It’s really common sense.  Really.)

In a residential area, don’t speed.  At the same intersection as the Beemer incident, some drivers swing around the corner and decide to floor it down our street.  Now, our street is only a block long before it hits another intersection and main thoroughfare through our subdivision (continuing down the extension of our street in either direction does not lead to any major road or is a dead-end).  There’s no real need to drive 70 kph down our street other than just being a dick who doesn’t care about his fuel consumption or the safety of the street’s residents.

I often toyed with the idea of crouching between our cars on our driveway with a kids’ bouncy ball, and as soon as I hear some idiot throttling his car around the corner, bouncing the ball and run after it like I’m going to run into the street to see what happens.  This, however, would only scare the daylights out of one driver and wouldn’t really influence the other 80 drivers every day who do the same thing.  It could cause a car accident or worse. So… it will remain a fanciful thought.

Your actions have an effect on others.  It’s all I’m trying to say.  Think about how your actions affect others.