My Rules for the Road

Recently, quite a few Letters to the Editor regarding the proper "rules" for driving on area expressways have appeared in my local paper. They run the gamut from individuals writing in to say that they purposefully drive at the speed limit (55 mph on most expressways in my area) or below in the left or "fast" lane, to teach the speeding drivers around them to slow down, to individuals urging drivers to use the left lane only for passing and to stay right at all times.

As I mentioned in my 100 Things About Me list, I am a very aggressive driver. I know this, and I admit it. I also have some very strong feelings on driving and the so-called "rules of the road." Now, I know these may not be popular. And I know they're not necessarily safe or even PC (and in most other areas of my life, I am a very PC girl!). But as someone who must share the morning commute with some seriously crazy people on my local expressways, I feel I must get these out.

Here they are in no particular order:

Kristi's Rules of the Road

1. Unless you are driving at a minimum of 10 mph over the speed limit, stay out of the left lane. I'd restrict this to rush-hour driving only, but in my world, this would apply at all hours of the day. Seriously, people. Yes, we all should drive at the speed limit to ensure safe roadways and safe passage to our final destinations. Blah, blah, blah. But in reality, this is never, ever going to happen. The left lane is a passing lane, technically, but it's also referred to as the "fast lane" for a reason-Cars drive fast in that lane! So if you're a slow or cautious driver, do your speedier-driving friends a favor and move the hell over! Don't make us tailgate you until we can smell the groceries you have in the backseat.

2. If you are retired, there is no need for you to be driving your Caddy or Lincoln on my expressway during rush-hour. Yes, I know it's a stereotype that older drivers are slower drivers. I know at least one senior citizen (my grandma) who drives like a bat out of hell. But in the vast majority of cases, when a trail of vehicles is backed up behind a single car on an expressway, when the driver of that car turns off the highway, a tiny little wrinkled white-haired or bald head is usually peeking out over the steering wheel. You're retired! Enjoy it! Sleep late! Go out to breakfast at a restaurant within walking distance of your house! Just please, please stay off the expressway during rush-hour. It's not safe for you there.

3. If you must talk on a cell phone while you're driving, pull over. In my state (New York), you must use a hands-free device to talk on your cell phone while driving, or else you can receive a ticket. Now, I don't think this has curbed cell phone use by drivers in the least, because I am always seeing drivers holding their phones to their ear...while swerving, slowing down to an interminably slow speed, etc. I must say here that I loathe cell phones (and the rude behavior that often accompanies their use) to begin with. I don't have a cell phone (although my husband does) and I don't want one. But it seems that some of the worst driving I see while on the expressways is attributed to people chatting merrily away on their cell phones, completely oblivious to the fact that they've slowed down their car to 40 mph, in the fast lane, and that they have a stream of irrate drivers backed up behind them. This is not only supremely annoying, but also very dangerous.

4. If you're entering the expressway from an on ramp, merge into traffic without slamming on your brakes. If you think expressways are such scary places that you need to literally come to a stop before you can merge, you shouldn't be driving on them in the first place. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this behavior come *this close* to causing an accident. Yes, you should merge into traffic from an on ramp cautiously, but you can do this without applying your brake. The purpose of these ramps is to accelerate to the point where you can join existing expressway traffic without slowing it down. If a person slowly creeps into existing expressway traffic doing 30 mph, this is going to cause an accident because everyone behind you is doing, at a minimum, 55 mph.

5. When you're exiting the expressway via an off ramp, do not slow down to the speed of the approaching road until you reach it. I'm applying the same principle from #4 here. Many of the exit ramps off of expressways in my area are quite long, sometimes over a mile long. Once you exit the expressway, you may slow down slightly, in preparation for the stoplight or the merge into a regular roadway, but don't slow your vehicle down so that it's practically crawling. You have a ways to go before the speed limit changes. And technically, you're still on the expressway. Unless there is a sign that indicates otherwise, the speed limit is still the same.

I'm sure there are others I'll think of once I post this, but these are my top 5. Do you have any to add? Or are you a cautious, level-headed driver, very unlike the crazed author of this blog?

8 Responses to “My Rules for the Road”

  1. # Blogger cara

    Kristi, I have only driven on one major express way in my life, it was in Atlanta. I broke all of your rules except the cell phone one. ( I surley would be dead, had I tried to talk on the phone!!) I was completely terrifed, but I live in a town w/o express ways, so I had no idea it would be THAT scary. I broke rule #4 in the worst possible way. So what I am trying to say is that I think you are very brave!!  

  2. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    I hear ya!
    I can't stand when people drive slow in the fast lane, it throws me into a rage!
    And people who talk on cellphones while driving, pisses me off. Quite a few countries have already put anti-cell phone use while driving laws in to effect.
    I think you and I have similar views on driving!
    Thank you for writing the Rules!  

  3. # Blogger Alisha

    I am so with you on your rules. Where I live the expressway speed limit is 70mph, which means traffic is generally flowing between 80 and 85mph. There is nothing that pisses me off like the ramp-crawlers! It's generally not the speed of traffic that terrifies me as much as being behind one of those people.  

  4. # Blogger Dawn

    I think that I agree with you on your rules of the road! A few other things I hate: drivers swerving lazily from their lane into mine; refusing to let other cars change lanes when they are signaling properly and at a fast enough speed; people who tailgate, regardless of the speed or location of traffic. The most aggressive drivers I've ever seen are here is Orange County/Los Angeles County. Part of the time I'm one of them...the rest of the time I hate them!  

  5. # Blogger CAL

    1. Yes!
    2. You got it!
    3. Um, okay. ;)
    4. Amen!
    5. Testify!  

  6. # Blogger Kristi

    Cara-You're lucky you don't have to drive on expressways. If I lived in a city with reliable and safe public transportation, I wouldn't even own a car.

    Ramona-I'm glad you liked my rules! Cell phones and driving make for a very bad combination.

    Alisha-I agree with you. If you're driving near or behind a slow driver on an expressway, it's not only aggrivating, it's scary!

    So-Cal-Yup- changing lanes without signaling is another big pet-peeve of mine. You must be brave to drive on Cali highways, which must be far worse than what I have to deal with.

    Waning Liberal-you talk on your cell phone while driving, don't you?

  7. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Would The Thought Of Thousands Of Other Web Site's All Displaying Your Content,  

  8. # Anonymous Anonymous
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