We are about to get a few inches of snow in Maryland and people have already gotten worse on the roads. Most people already cannot drive correctly but add bad weather into the mix and forget it. Let’s talk about some basic maneuvers that every driver should be able to do but cannot.
Left hand turn
This seems super simple. Turn the wheel to the left, maintain your lane discipline, and execute the turn. For most drivers on a single lane road, it’s almost that simple. Add a second lane and people all of a sudden cannot do it. They cross the center line of the road they are turning onto, almost hit the front of a vehicle waiting at the light, or they almost hit the other driver turning at the same time. If you study the image above you will see that you need to move out into the intersection before initiating a turn. If you use too much speed or turn too soon you will have too shallow of an angle and cross the lane on the inside. you often see people taking evasive action as a car comes up to a light or they didn’t see a curb in the way. The last piece is lane discipline. You don’t start on the left and then end up in the right lane. Too many times I have barely avoided an accident when a vehicle crosses lanes making a left-hand turn.
I’m not your mom, the nanny, or the police, but slow down. Leave earlier if you need to arrive somewhere at a certain time. Driving 85 MPH is inefficient, does not leave adequate stopping distance in traffic, and frankly most people driving that fast lack the ability to control the vehicle. If you have to slow down for every single curve in the road… you lack the ability to drive fast. Anyone can mash the gas pedal, a real driver can negotiate a turn while maintaining speed and control. A prime example happened this morning. I travel at 60 MPH on my morning commute, I am passed constantly on this particular road even though the limit is near my speed I might as well be walking. My Jeep reaches optimum fuel economy at 60 MPH so that’s what I run. I was passed by someone in a terrible hurry this morning, cut off, and then left behind. Not 5 seconds later we hit a bend in the road. Not a sharp curve, not even one you need to slow down for, but this person had to slow down until they were at or below the actual speed limit to negotiate the turn. The interesting part in all of this is I work in the vicinity of the vehicle. We reached the same stop light near work at the same moment. I drove 60, they drove well above that, yet due to lights, timing, whatever, we arrived within 50 yards of our destination at the same moment. Food for thought.
Use the F*&!*!# Turn Signal
Up indicates a right turn or merge, down indicates a left turn or merge. It is located on the left of your steering wheel. That’s it, just use it to signal what you plan to do.
Bad Weather Driving
Yes driving slower in bad weather is the right way to drive. Still tailgating drivers in front of you, slamming on your brakes, making rapid lane changes, and generally driving like a giant tool is not how you survive driving in bad weather. I grew up country, we learned to use momentum, to brake smoothly, and to maintain speed. Even when “gunning” the engine there is a smooth application of the throttle, a linear application versus a stabbing motion. It’s like firing a weapon. You squeeze the trigger, you don’t yank it. You squeeze the gas pedal, you don’t stab at it like you are popping a balloon. Like all great things in life using patience, being smooth with your movements, and letting others know your intentions will make driving a much more enjoyable activity.