Having just driven approximately two billion miles in the past six weeks, it seems to me it’s time to discuss vehicles and the people who operate them. Please note my reticence in using the kind word “people” instead of the harsh judgmental term “morons.” You see, there are a lot — a lot — of pea-brains maneuvering motorized transportation devices on today’s Interstates. And highways. And county roads. And, in some especially moron-intensive areas, sidewalks.
I am limited to about eight hundred words here so it will be possible to address only the most egregious driving flaws of others. I myself am an excellent driver and am happy to share my vast experience with those who have yet to grasp the finer nuances of the turn signal, the lane change, the proper use of the passing lane, and, of course, the speed limit.
First, the turn signal. The turn signal is a signal used to signal an upcoming turn. The salient points of a turn signal are as follows: if you intend to make a turn, deploy the turn signal signal, preferably correctly indicating the direction in which you propose turning. The choices here are fairly limited: right or left. The person behind you will be incredibly grateful to know of your intentions. He or she will be so overcome with gratitude it’s possible they will not ram you from behind for not making sudden unannounced moves. It follows that turning on the turn signal after you have actually initiated your turn does zero good. There are no bonus points awarded for signaling sometime after the steering wheel has been rotated ninety degrees.
Second, the lane change. This is an adjunct to the turn signal. If you would like to change lanes (and who wouldn’t?) it is considered good form to alert your fellow travelers of that wish. In certain parts of the country, your fellow travelers will be so moved by your announcement that they will make room for you to enter their lane. Do not — repeat, do not — expect this courtesy everywhere. Some of your fellow travelers see your desire to be in their lane as a direct affront to their need to be jerks. Also, it is very common for drivers of large, wobbly, speeding semis that now weigh more than the space shuttle to use their turn signal not to ask to move over, but to tell you they are moving over. “Here I come, ready (or room) or not,” they are saying via a blinking light. This makes for an interesting drive and increased business for your local body shop.
Third, proper use of the passing lane. The proper use of the passing lane is to pass. It is not to set up housekeeping in the far left lane, going fifty-five miles an hour in order to avoid merging traffic and other bothersome events. But even a stellar driver such as myself sometimes gets caught up in the act of passing. I go into the left lane (after assuring it is not already occupied…this is an important step) I pass one car. Just a little farther ahead I see another car on which I am gaining ground. Should I just stay in the passing lane until I overtake this car as well? Because you know and I know there will be another and another and another car just begging to be passed. How long is it acceptable to stay in the passing lane? After hours of tireless research I can tell you this: it is acceptable to stay there until the car behind you, also in a frenzy of passing, is tailgating so closely they are partially in the trunk of your car. If you are driving a pick-up truck, they are firmly ensconced in the bed of the truck. They might be gently, or not-so-gently, tapping your rear bumper with their front bumper in a friendly reminder to get the heck out of my way!!! Except they don’t say “heck” but the first two letters are the same.
This brings us, naturally, to the speed limit. Obviously, the speed limit displayed on those useful road side signs is merely a suggestion. No one, except those previously chastised persons loitering unlawfully in the passing lane, is going the posted speed limit. Some drivers seem to add a “1” in front of the speed limit. These are the endlessly entertaining folks who weave in and out of traffic in order to get to the scene of their accident more quickly. Other people cruise a mere twenty miles per hour over. Some less adventurous souls go ten over, while the meek who are going to inherit the earth instead of speeding tickets, go five over. But here’s the thing: what really is the threshold for speeding without getting pulled over? Because that’s the speed I’m driving.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.