Driving Me Nuts

Some grumbling by James A Graves, Jr.


These days we hear a constant blab about distracted driving being the major cause of accidents.  Distracted driving is being tagged to everything from talking on cell phones or listening to the radio, to drinking coffee or having a conversation with a passenger.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time observing some of the drivers out there and here’s a news flash… we’ve been using the wrong term.  Distracted driving doesn’t quite get it done.  The term that we should be using is dysfunctional driving.

Let’s be honest, some of the people that are zooming around on the highways and byways in control of several thousand pounds of potentially deadly metal would be a hazard on foot.  Behind the wheel of a car, they’re just downright scary. 

Oh, they’re not the least bit concerned about it.  They’re completely oblivious to any danger.  In fact, in their mind, they’re driving the only vehicle on the road.  Otherwise, how could they possibly make those unbelievably stupid maneuvers in traffic?  And because of those unbelievably stupid maneuvers, we poor souls near them must drive like we’re in the third row at Daytona just after the green flag drops.

While we’re talking about dysfunctional driving, what happened to using turn signals?  It seems that very few drivers consider it necessary to use turn signals these days.  Even the police have stopped using them.  So here’s some hints to the many non-signaling drivers out there… 

The reasons for not using turn signals is a complete mystery because it’s not that hard to figure out how the little lever works.  There are only two options,  

1. If you lift it up, lights blink on the right side of your car, which tells other drivers that you plan to turn right.  And if you lift it up far enough, it even stays there! 

2. If you push it down, the same thing happens on the left side of your car, etc, etc. 

The necessary motor skills required to use the turn signal are really low, so it shouldn’t be much of a strain on your already overworked brain.  We understand what a monumental effort it is for you to drive a car and think at the same time, but the added effort to use the turn signal is just slightly more than the effort required to pick your nose while waiting at a traffic light. 

And that’s not all, there’s more good news; the car even turns the signal off all by itself, so you don’t have to remember to do it when you’ve finished turning.  But please, remember to push the turn signal lever early on in the process.  Signaling after you’ve already made the turn is just a bit too late; we can figure out for ourselves at that point that you’re turning.

Also, there’s no need to leave your turn signal on continuously.  We know that you’ll eventually turn in that direction, we just don’t care to follow you to learn when you finally do.  After all, what if you decide to turn the other way?  Then everyone around you will be totally confused.

I understand the reason that turn signals aren’t used in racing; you tend to win more races if your opponents don’t know your next move.  But if you’re just going to the bank or the grocery store, is it really necessary to make us have to guess your next move?  After all, even NASCAR suggests signaling the other drivers on the first lap before the tires warm up.

Speaking of racing, believe it or not, there are speed limit signs posted beside our roadways.  No kidding!  Apparently, you think these signs are for some another purpose because I’d be willing to bet that if a typical driver were stopped along a stretch of any street or roadway with no speed limit sign in sight and asked what the speed limit is, they would not know. 

If I happened to be tasked with the job of stopping them, it wouldn’t be difficult, because if they were driving in front of me, they would invariably be driving twenty mph below the posted speed!  Listen folks, it’s really okay if the speedometer in your car reads the same as the speed limit sign.  Even when you can no longer see the speed limit sign.  I’d even be willing to bet that a traffic cop wouldn’t give you a ticket if you were traveling a whopping 5 mph over the posted speed limit.

But lets keep this speed limit thing in perspective.  For example, if you’re traveling along a multi-lane highway within the city limits of, oh, let’s say… Atlanta, Georgia.  If the speed limit sign shows “55 mph” and the highway that you’re driving on is as crowded with cars as the parking lot at a Braves game, it’s really not necessary to drive 90 mph just because all of the other cars within a radius of ten miles are also doing 90 mph. 

Also, if you can’t fit a folded newspaper between your car and the car in front of you, 90 mph is just a tad too fast.  Odds are your not strapped into a titanium roll cage with a five-point harness, and you’re not wearing a Nomex racing suit with a $600 racing helmet.  So, throttle back, make a serious effort to relocate your sanity, and take the next exit before you kill yourself and half of Georgia.

And stop driving me nuts - USE YOUR BLINKIN TURN SIGNAL!!


©2005 James A Graves, Jr.                                    

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