Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Rules Of The Road According To Yours Truly

 


You know, I spend a lot of time on the highway driving back and forth between Montgomery and Atlanta - some 500+ trips already. And I’ll tell you what, although I can’t say I’ve seen it all, I have seen a lot. It never ceases to amaze me how people can do some pretty rude and stupid things when they get behind the wheel of a car. I’ve seen people reading books, texting, putting on makeup and one not-so-smart guy actually playing his guitar while driving. Yes, I’ve seen a lot. And although I will never claim to be the greatest driver on the planet, I am certainly not the worst. In my 36+ years of driving, in violation of ­Galatians 5:22, I unfortunately find myself sometimes being impatient with those who probably shouldn’t even possess a driver’s license. In this column, I am going to identify 4 annoying driving behaviors that drive me up a wall. If you happen to be one of these people, I apologize in advance and then it is your turn to straighten up and drive right. But since the vast majority of readers of this paper are pretty smart, I will probably be just preaching to the choir.

1. THE "FOG LIGHTER"

There are few driving practices more annoying than driving down the road on a clear and fogless night and coming face to face with somebody with their fog lights on. Please, would somebody tell me, “why?” Why on Earth would you drive around with your fog lights on when there is no fog? Let me give you a hint people, they are called fog lights for a reason. On a clear night, guess what. They do NOTHING; I repeat NOTHING to help your vision. That’s right.

Nothing. Zip, nill, nadda, nichts, nothing. ZERO!! They do not help your night vision one iota. If you are someone who likes to drive with your FOG lights on, do this little test. On a clear night, preferably while you are parked, turn on your headlights and look how they light up the road. Now sit back and turn on your fog lights. Do you know what you are going to see? More than likely, NOTHING. If you look closely, you may see some indication they are on down near the ground, but for the most part, you will not notice a thing; especially not enough to justify having them on.

Fog lights are incredibly bright and by design sit low on the cars grill so they do not reflect off the fog and back into the driver’s eyes. They are not intended to be a long range beam but rather used in fog when visibility is reduced.

So what is the end result of the inconsiderate drivers that keep their fog lights on all the time? THEY BLIND EVERYBODY ELSE ON THE ROAD. Now, if this is your intention, so be it. If you don’t care enough about your fellow drivers, then you probably could care less about this Robservation. I mentioned this annoying phenomenon to a captain I flew with several years ago. He laughed and told me that his teenage son was a “fog lighter.” He told me his son says, “It looks cool.” Well, I know people are going to do what they want to, but it still doesn’t change the fact that driving with your fog lights on in clear weather does nothing to help you and is rude, obnoxious and potentially dangerous. Coming face to face with a “fog lighter” on a two lane road can be a dangerous proposition. So do all of us a favor folks, if it isn’t foggy, turn the darn things off.

2. THE "THUNDERBIRD/ BLUE ANGEL PILOT"

Okay, again I ask, “Why?” Somebody speeds onto the interstate and quickly positions himself or herself in the left lane and promptly adjusts their speed to at or below the speed limit. Since these people rarely if ever use their rear view mirrors, they are oblivious to the 200 cars lined up behind them while they drive "formation" next to the car in the right hand lane. The guy in the right lane has every right to be where he is so why does the Thunderbird Pilot drive in formation with him? Because he/she is an oblivious person who doesn’t need to be on the road. Look, the left lane is for passing. I know there are times when a lot of traffic is on the road and back-ups occur in both lanes but if there is little to no traffic and you aren’t passing anybody, you are not supposed to cruise the left lane and force people to pass you on the right. In New Jersey where I grew up, if a police officer saw this spectacular display of formation driving, he would pull you over and rightfully give you a ticket.

One night I was driving home from Atlanta when I got stuck behind some guy in a Ford SUV. He was doing about 65 mph in a 70 mph zone. For at least five minutes I was stuck behind him and the car he was "formed" up with. Eventually, I gave him the not so subtle "get the heck out of the way" flash of my high beams and he finally sped up and moved over. When I passed him, he quickly pulled in behind me, sped up to catch me, put on his high beams and "showed me" what a man he was. Wise up, don’t be stubborn and move the heck over.

3. THE "UNGRATEFUL GOON"

Look, I know that at times in our lives it can be difficult to raise your hand and say thanks to another human being (not really), but for crying out loud, if you are sitting behind the wheel of a car, you probably have the strength if not the class to raise that swollen appendage dangling from your shoulder and wave thanks. Here’s another hint, if somebody is nice enough to let you out of a parking lot, onto the highway or in front of them on a busy street, it doesn’t take much effort to "say," thanks. I don’t understand why people won't do it. I guess they are like an out of work school teacher - no class. (Note to readers: I am not saying out of work school teachers are classless but they in fact don’t have a class to teach - thus "no class." I feel stupid having to write this but someone chastised me once for thinking that is what I meant – Sheesh!)

4. The "I’M TOO GOOD FOR CRUISE CONTROL BUT CAN'T DRIVE A STEADY SPEED TO SAVE MY LIFE" DRIVER

You know what? If I pass you or you pass me, I never want to see you again. EVER! Unless one of us has stopped for some reason, we should not pass one another again. On the highway, I generally use my cruise control because without it, in no time I’d be driving 120 mph. I know it, I lived in Germany for six years, I’ve done it. But with my cruise control engaged, it bugs me to no end when I pass a car and a minute or two later it passes me. A little while later I pass it again and on it goes for half an hour or more. Look, if you are such a terrible driver and cannot drive a steady speed, use your cruise control and quit playing the passing game. I know a lot of this is pride with people getting angry that they were passed but please, grow up. I've seen it too many times.

I know that when we pass each other, there is almost always that friendly glance at the other driver. The head nod, the "How 'bout them Vols" smile; you know what I mean. Every now and then, however, you get the "How - dare - you - pass - me - even - though - I'm - doing - 10 mph - below - the - speed - limit - and - you - embarrassed - me - in - front - of - my - girlfriend. - Now - I 'm - going - to - have - to - pass - you - to - put - you - in - your - place - and- after - I - do, my - car - will - give - out - and - you'll - pass - me - again - but - at - least - I - showed - you - once" look. Oy!!

All I am asking for folks is a little common sense and respect on the road. If people would just be nice out there, all of our driving experiences would be much better. Drive carefully and don’t be rude. It is not that hard, really.

 

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