Baboon Social Cohesion, Backseat Driving, Blind Spot, Blind Spots, Defensive Driving, Double Coincidence of Wants, Exit-Only Lanes, Green Light Etiquette, Marital Tranquility, Parking Etiquette, Passing Lane, Passing on Right, Rear Camera, Riding Shotgun, Right on Red, Roundabout Navigation, Three-Point Turns, Turn Signal
I’m on a road trip with my spouse and it means some time for me in the passenger seat. That’s because we are such an enlightened, sharing couple. I have mostly resisted temptations to offer driving tips to my spouse, but it can be very challenging. This time, I decided to catalogue my spouse’s driving “issues” as a simple exercise in the interest of preserving my sanity.
Much of what you’ll see below takes the form of advice, only I cannot say much of it out loud without blowing our domestic tranquility to smithereens! Bad move on a long trip! So despite frustrations, the reticent approach is probably all for the good. After all, even troops of baboons are said to move at speeds less than ergonomically optimal “in order to maintain social cohesion”. And it is just so in my marriage. Of course, this is about more than speed, but if I condense all of the issues into the single-most convenient dimension, it would come down to slower speeds. Like a long-striding baboon tolerating an angst similar to my own, I’m willing to sacrifice speed in order to keep the troop happy and together.
Lest I be accused of favoring a certain recklessness, I’ll start by asserting that defensive driving does not mean you have to be timid. You’re not being hunted. Don’t constantly imagine a need for deference. Watch out for other vehicles, but take charge! Be deliberate. And fucking GO!
Ignore irrelevant information! If you’re trying to follow I-75, don’t freak every time you see signs for other roads or interstates, unless of course you’re trapped in an exit-only lane! You might not think this is a “thing” unless you’ve been on the road with a driver who’s unable to filter information!
You wouldn’t walk down the sidewalk with your eyes fixed only on the area immediately before your feet. Don’t drive that way either! Plan and execute smooth transitions as circumstances and opportunities dictate. Look ahead!
My general mantra is, “The right lane is for losers!” Say it aloud! I actually managed to get a laugh out of my spouse with that line. Alright, when the right lane is empty, you should stay there, but…
Don’t get trapped in the right lane when you know traffic is entering the road just ahead of you.
Don’t get trapped in the right lane when you know it’s full of people planning to turn right, which is frequently the case!
Don’t get trapped in an exit-only lane! In general, if there’s a middle lane, you can improve your “optionality” by staying there.
If you’re changing to a middle lane, glance two lanes over before you move, not just one! This is exactly when drivers in different lanes don’t need a coincidence of wants. And don’t rely solely on your side mirrors.
I can’t recount the number of times my spouse has been startled, dangerously, by drivers passing her at high speeds. “OhMyGOD!” This has happened to me too, and it can be quite dangerous. Try to glance in the rear view mirror on a regular basis to avoid nasty surprises like this, and don’t make sudden moves as other vehicles approach from behind unless you really want to confuse them!
Dual left turn lanes are especially tough for my spouse to negotiate. I think this stems from a failure to “look ahead”. Get a fix on the end point, and try to think of the whole turn… a sweeping curve. Do not search for each dashed line along the path. Just give cars turning alongside you a fair berth.
Right turns on red can be quick and painless. If, when you arrive at an intersection, the “oncoming” vehicles to your left are at a dead stop, then fucking GO! They will NOT suddenly leap across the intersection and smash into you. Of course, watch out for pedestrians near your corner!
And regarding right turns, if left-turning “blockers” are moving in the opposite direction, fucking GO!
You do not have to come to a near stop as you approach an empty roundabout! “Yield” matters only when there is someone to whom you might yield. So fucking GO!
When you have a dedicated or open lane to take after your turn, take it! Fucking GO!
Turn smoothly!! If you’re turning right, don’t get yourself out in the middle of the damn road before turning your wheels! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my heart in my throat over this issue.
If you want to change lanes on a busy road, use your damn turn signal to indicate your intention to other drivers!
As you approach a red light, always choose the lane with the fewest cars. PLEASE!
Never brake as you approach a green light. Fucking GO!
In a long line of cars at a light, don’t stop car-lengths behind the one in front of you (making allowances when on a steep incline). You probably do want to make the next green light, as do all the poor saps behind you.
When the light turns green, if you can go, fucking GO!
Make judicious use of your horn! Don’t be afraid to give it a little tap to rouse the distracted shmuck in front of you when the light turns green.
Parking and “Unparking”
Don’t park like an idiot! Park in one space between the fucking lines!
If you have a choice, don’t ever park next to anyone parked like an idiot.
On a hot day, don’t drive past shaded parking places in favor of spots in the blazing sun!
Refine your spacial orientation. It’s amazing how many two-point turns are made into three-plus point turns by drivers lacking these bearings. Get a handle on the fucking dimensions of your vehicle!
Use your rear camera and figure out what the colored lines mean.
Don’t linger alongside large tractor trailers, or any other vehicle for that matter. Especially do not linger toward the rear of those vehicles! Fucking pass them. Shoot the gap! GO!
And never linger on anyone’s right rear side … they don’t call it a blind spot for nothing!
When you pass, don’t shake the steering wheel back and forth as if you must thread a jumping needle!
If you are forced to pass on the right, get it done! Fucking GO!
Do NOT attempt to pass on the right if there’s an even slower vehicle ahead of you! You’ll get fucking trapped!
Don’t be shaken by drivers who would very much like to get around you. Use your turn signal and get out of the way at your earliest convenience.
Silence Not Always Golden
I don’t always suffer in silence while my spouse is behind the wheel, but I try to choose my spots wisely. Not that it’s easy! I react when I perceive danger, but there are times I regret it. And to be fair, my spouse hasn’t had an accident or a traffic citation of any kind in quite some time. That’s a big plus! My own driving record has a few … ahem … blemishes, but mostly speeding tickets, and it’s been a while.
I also note that this has nothing to do with gender. I have a few pals who are awful drivers. The difference is I can get in their ear about it without getting hours of the silent treatment!
We are hitting the road for home in a few days, and I’ll do my best to keep my nose out of the spouse’s driving when I’m riding shotgun. Hey, she’s my babe!!
I think you might have enjoyed your ride more if you had spent the time writing a fictional short story!!