Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vizlaws of the Highway

Another from the vault-

(Originally published elsewhere September 2010)

Now, a lot of the time when I bring up things that really should be common knowledge about driving etiquette people tend to give me responses along the lines of, ‘Holy crap that dog is talking’, or ‘Them some pretty big words for somebody that licks themselves in public’.

I’m going to skate right past these, pausing only briefly to point out that while the second one might be true it’s hardly helpful to the discussion.

And so let’s take a moment to discuss –


1:  Left lane fast.  Right lane slow.

I’m hardly the first one to point this out, but it seems to not have sunk in for the majority of the population.  Let’s break it down to it’s simplest application -  If you are going the exact same speed as the person in the right lane, you should BE IN THE FRICKIN’ RIGHT LANE.  At least for long enough for that nice driver immediately behind you to go past.  Because you know how he (or she)’s about three inches from your bumper?  That’s because you are in their way.  And they hate you.

Which leads to a corollary of the first rule:

1a:  You are not the freeway hall monitor. 

It’s not up to you to prevent speeding.  Or tailgating.  Or merging in from the onramp at a point that you personally disapprove of for ideological reasons.  At no point should you wedge your ass in the left lane at 5 miles below the speed limit just to show all those bad people that you can stop them from speeding like you were Batman of the interstate.  If you do this, they are allowed to ram you off the road like you were the little 8-bit motorcycle in Spy Hunter, seriously.  Wave a reproving finger as they pass if it makes your self-satisfied little self feel better, but under no circumstances are you entitled to try to enforce traffic code.  Unless you’re a state patrolman (patrol-person?  Patrol-attendant?  Deputy?)  If you are actually a POST licensed officer on duty, then you actually ARE the Freeway Hall Monitor, and corollary 1a does not apply to you.  In fact, none of these do.  Neither does the law of diminishing returns, gravity, averages, and my but have you lost weight because you look fabulous.

2: If you drive in such a way as to deliberately be in someone else’s way, you are an asshole.

Yes, I’m looking at you Mr Tap-on-the-brakes-to get-that-car-to-back-off-rather-than-get-the-hell-out-of-their-way.  Sure, there’s plenty of times where Mr. Tailgater is the asshole in today’s story.  And plenty of times where it’s not actually safely or even physically possible to move out of your lane to let someone past or slow down/speed up to allow someone to merge in.  But when you’re going 5 miles below the speed limit in the left lane while people are moving to the right lane to get around you…  We have identified the asshole, and it is you.

3:  Your skill as a driver is in direct inverse proportion to the number of religious bumper stickers that you have on your car.

Same goes for political ones, politics being essentially indistinguishable from religion these days anyway.  (‘I’m right because I’m obviously right, therefore anyone who thinks differently is clearly stupid and wrong’)

Oh, and doubly so for political bumper stickers regarding elections that occurred in previous decades. (Exemption provided for VW Minivans.)

4:  There is room for legitimate difference of opinion as to where in the acceleration lane it is appropriate to merge into traffic.  If someone merges at a spot that you feel to be inappropriate, they probably have a difference of opinion with you but are most likely NOT the antichrist.

That said, let’s observe that the word ‘Acceleration’ is actually RIGHT THERE IN THE NAME OF THE LANE.  If you’re braking to a lower speed than the flow of traffic while on this lane you are no longer allowed to drive on the freeway.  Ever.

5:  If you’re not capable of driving in the snow, you should not be out driving in the snow.

Ditto rain.  And sleet.  And dark of night.  In fact, avoid the postal service altogether.

That’s all for now, It’s vitally important that I go roll on my back in the living room and make noises like a yeti at this point in the evening.

Until next week –


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