Rules of the road

by Ginger on July 20, 2009

in Random

To my fellow drivers,

Look, I know we’re all in our own little worlds in our cars. I get that when you’re stuck in traffic, you can get wrapped up in your own circumstances, where you need to be, and forget that there are other people in other cars out there. I understand that we all have places to be.

However, I feel like there are some simple rules of the road that many of you have forgotten. I feel like some of these are so much worse here in Southern California than anywhere else I’ve ever lived, but maybe that’s just an illusion because I have to spend more time driving here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. Regardless, I’d like to remind you all of a few simple rules and concepts that would truly make life easier for us all!

  1. There’s a little stick next to the steering wheel that operates this thing called a “blinker”. I know, I know, some of you have no idea what this is–and others of you seem to think it’s only to be used AFTER the fact. But here’s how you generally operate this: when you decide that you are going to turn, merge into another lane, pull into a driveway off the road, or anything of the sort that might require other drivers to react in some way, you flick this little stick BEFORE this action. This turns the blinker on the outside of your car on to notify other drivers of your intentions, allowing them to react appropriately–say, to decelerate, or to move out of your way.
  2. In addition to the blinker, if you are planning on merging into another lane, it is your responsibility to look and make sure there are no cars in your way. I know, I know, it seems crazy that the responsibility of making sure the way is clear is on the merging car, but that’s how it works. The other drivers can’t read your mind, so if you just start to pull over without looking, bad things can happen.
  3. One final little note about merging, and this one is really nitpicking I know: You really should allow more than 6 inches of bumper room before you merge. Particularly if you’re merging in front of a semi, who may not have the stopping power of my car or yours. A good rule of thumb is to wait to merge until you can see the headlights of the car in that lane.
  4. If you see a cop who has pulled someone over, I promise–you don’t have to slam on your breaks. If that cop is currently giving someone else a ticket, it’s highly unlikely that he’s going to stop what he’s doing, get in his car/on his motorcycle, and chase YOU down. He’s otherwise occupied, please just go about your business.
  5. You also aren’t required to slam on your brakes if you see brake lights 2 lanes over. If you see brake lights in front of you, sure. But two lanes away very likely has no influence on your lane of traffic.
  6. On the same note, just because the lane next to you or two lanes over is accelerating doesn’t necessarily mean that you can. It’s a pretty simple equation–you can go when the cars in front of you are going, and you should stop when the cars in front of you are stopping.
  7. Speaking of stopping, I know that stop signs are a pain. Trust me, I get it. However, you are still required to stop at them–particularly when there are other cars at the intersection. Here in California we’re all aware of the rolling stop, and we all do it, but it doesn’t work as well when there are multiple other cars at a four way stop.
  8. Here’s something that’s apparently a secret: just because you have a super fancy car doesn’t mean these rules don’t apply to you. Your Lotus doesn’t give you the right to ignore every other car on the road. Your Lamborghini? Does not excuse you from the rules of the road. I know, crazy talk, but it’s the truth!

While there are other rules and concepts of the road, I think this is probably enough for you to try and digest for the day. I know, you think I’m full of crazy talk, but I promise, these are things that would make sharing the road with all of you so much easier. Try to learn these, and we’ll all get along so much better.

As always, more lists can be found over at abdpbt:


Alexis July 20, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I am so with you! People here, in VA, sort of have a boycott on signaling. Mix that with a healthy dose of speed limit ignorance and well, you often find people going 35mph on the highway merging, with no warning, into lanes of traffic going well over 80mph. Thank the universe that my car is built like a tank, despite being a 30mpg sedan and has great maneuverability. I’d be dead otherwise!

Alexis´s last blog post..City Living: The Pros and Cons

Lisa July 20, 2009 at 11:45 am

My brother and I were recently complaining about the four-way stop thing, how people seem to think they get to go just because they stopped. The fact that there is a particular order you’re supposed to go in is lost on some people. Or they treat it like a red light, if the car in front of them is going, they are too!

Lisa´s last blog post..The toughest Finch on the block.

abdpbt July 20, 2009 at 1:38 pm

My own pet peeve is when people are making left turns in signals without an arrow, and they don’t get out into the intersection, so then it takes them like 80 million years to make a left turn from all the way behind the line, and only one car can go per light. Phew.

Obviously, I live in LA, to have given this as much thought.

abdpbt´s last blog post..18 Questions Raised By The Bravo TV Show NYC Prep

Katherine July 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm

You must have forgotten what it was like to drive in Tucson already. No blinkers and red lights do not apply when making a left turn.

Tim G July 20, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Wow, exactly fits traffic in ATL. I am fortunate in that most days I deal with suburban traffic, but still on a six lane road. Traffic is adequately controlled by the lights. But on days I have to travel to the airport, which is 35 miles of city driving, I almost dread it. I almost leave an extra 60 minutes early to be sure I make my flight. And all the rules above could help traffic flow in my opinion.

Tim G´s last blog post..13 Frequently Given Answers – Supervisory Edition

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