Chat with the chief: Driving me crazy

I’d like to consider myself a pretty calm and rational person. But, if I have to share the roads with ignorant, careless drivers for even another second, I think my brain is going to explode.

I’m not one to get road rage. Typically, I’m too busy partaking in my own vehicular dance party to let the occasional cut-off or slow driver bother me. However, lately that has not been the case. The quality of the drivers on the roads I navigate regularly has decreased so drastically that I can’t handle it anymore. Daily, I question how so many reckless people have a driver’s license.

Many of the common errors of drivers likely occur because of two things: either the driver forgot how these things work, or they simply don’t care. For a lot of people, driver’s training was completed a while ago. Therefore, it’s easy to forget what you learned years or even decades prior. For those who just don’t care, start to care. Your driving affects more people than just yourself.

As a result of my frustration, I present a condensed guide on how to drive like a conscious human being who knows how to drive. I hope that these notes help at least a handful of people and help preserve my sanity even a little bit.

1. Be conscious of your surroundings. This seems like an simple one, but it is so frequently ignored. If someone is tailgating you and you realize that you’re traveling far below the speed limit, go a little faster. Check your blindspot before switching lanes. It’s the little things that we need to pay attention to.

2. Don’t cut people off. If you’re about to turn onto a street and there’s only one car driving towards you, why would you pull out in front of that car when there’s endless open road behind it? If you can avoid it, wait until there is adequate space before pulling into traffic. Don’t make people slam on the brakes to accommodate your rushed decision.

3. Your turn signal is there for a reason. Use it. Turn it on before you switch lanes or make a turn. Don’t turn it on miles before you make the turn, and don’t turn it on as you’re already turning. Doing either of these things defeats its purpose.

4. Give ‘em some space. On the expressway, if a car is on the shoulder, whether it is simply broken down or it is accompanied by an emergency vehicle, switch lanes to give those people a little extra space. I was in a car accident on I-69 last winter, and while we waited nearly an hour for police to arrive, a surprising amount of vehicles refused to get out of the lane right next to our car, which rattled with everyone who passed. Be considerate and switch lanes to move away from cars on the shoulder when possible.

5. Don’t text and drive, and no DUIs. Come on, you guys. There’s absolutely no acceptable reason to drive while texting or while intoxicated. We all know better. Let’s all do better.

6. Brake for pedestrians. This is especially a problem on campus. If I had a dollar for every time I was almost smashed into when walking at the crosswalk by Hallisy Hall and the Timme Center, I could afford to pay a chauffeur to drive me across campus so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting hit when walking to class. When approaching a stop sign, especially one near crosswalks, look well in all directions before proceeding.

7. Turn your damn brights off. I literally cannot see anything if you’re driving at me with your brights on. Be aware that you have them on and when you see another car, even in the distance, turn them off.

8. Slow driving does not mean safe driving. Yes, when the weather is poor, it may be appropriate to go a little slower. However, contrary to what some may believe, driving 10 miles per hour under the speed limit often does more harm than good. It can catch other drivers off guard, causing them to slam on the brakes and possibly cause collisions. In addition, driving too slow can prompt unnecessary traffic jams. If you’re the only one on the road, go for it, but other than that, recognize the speed limit and drive with the flow of traffic.

9. Tailgating is rarely helpful and is always annoying. Personally, if someone is driving right behind me, I’ll speed up a little bit to get them off my back. But, if I’m going 15 over and you’re still driving two feet behind me, then you’re the problem.

10. Parking lot etiquette is valuable. Remember that you’re sharing the parking lot. If you feel ever so inclined to take up multiple spots, at least have the courtesy to park at the back of the lot.

These are just a few of the glaring errors that stick out to me every time I get behind the wheel. I could go on forever listing endless tips to perfect everyone’s driving habits. Overall, being conscious of the people around you and thinking before making decisions that will affect other drivers are easy solutions to many issues. Courtesy goes a long way, especially on the roads.