Remembering to Look

I apologize for disappearing from the blog for several years. Luckily (I suppose), this hiatus has allowed me to develop even more driving pet-peeves to discuss! Driving is a very complex task, and it’s easy to develop bad habits. The goal of WDYLHTD is to bring these bad habits to people’s attention. It’s important to “check yourself before you wreck yourself,” so to speak.

With that in mind, I’m here to talk about where people look when they’re turning onto a road. I’ve noticed that people tend to only look one direction. Visual representations:

sketch1501878957667

Someone making a right turn will only look to their left (green squiggle is the area of vision).

sketch1501879002158

Someone making a left turn will only look to their right (green squiggle is the area of vision).

It seems as though folks get stuck looking only at the lane into which they are turning.

You were probably told to look both ways before you cross the street, right? Well, the same applies to driving… although it’d probably be something more like “look everywhere before you go anywhere.”

Anyway, problems can occur when you neglect to observe all sides of your surroundings. These problems include:

  1. Pulling out in front of/hitting another vehicle. This is most likely to occur when making a left turn. If you’re only looking to your right at the cars traveling in the lane you wish to join, you’ll miss all of the traffic traveling IN THE LANE THAT’S NEAREST TO YOU. Jesus Christ on a bicycle, it’s one of the scariest things to see while driving. On numerous occasions, I’ve had to slow down for someone pulling into the road right in front of me to make their left turn… without even once looking in my direction
  2. Hitting pedestrians/cyclists. These meandering embodiments of mayhem can show up at anytime and come from any direction. Pedestrians, especially, are sneaky and will often pop out of nowhere, hiding their intentions to cross until the last minute. If you’re not checking the “other direction” (whatever direction that may be), you run the very real risk of driving right into someone who’s pedaling by or crossing the street in front of you. That’s bad. Don’t do that.

So, what can you do to avoid falling into this trap? The simple answer would be to—duh—just remember to look in both directions before you make a move. However, that may be difficult for some people to remember. Others may need a stronger directive. For those folks, you might try looking the “other direction” every 7 seconds while you’re waiting AND BEFORE YOU LET OFF THE BRAKE! Especially that last part. Everyone should do that last part. Don’t even inch forward without looking at what’s in front of you.

Driving requires active participation, so actively remember to look both ways when you’re making a maneuver.

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“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

-George Carlin

Boy, it has been a while

I do apologize for disappearing. Life has a way of making things disappear. Like my tolerance for traffic! But today on my ways to and from work, I attempted a new strategy — chilling the fuck out.

Normally I like to get to where I’m going at the fastest speed possible because, well, fast is fun. It’s not that I’m running late all the time, I just like to drive quickly all the time. But in the desperate need to break speed limit laws, I tend to get stuck falling down an endless pit of anger, frustration, profanity, hatred (and of course, despair). It’s probably bad for my overall well-being that I get trapped in a cycle of questioning the meaning of life every time I venture onto the roads. Thus, I attempted to chill the fuck out… and you know what… it actually worked. I’d be stuck in a line of people at a light, and where I would have angrily cut into the other lane to pass them all, I would just say to myself “that’s fine, no need to be anywhere this very second.” To my own amazement it worked, and my commute went relatively pain-free today.

So, I’ve decided to return to my blog with suggestions on how to remain calm in the face of terrifying, terrible, treacherous, and torpid traffic.

1.) Listen to music. It’s a lot nicer to sit at a light or be stuck behind a giant line of people for whatever reason when a good song is playing. Whether it’s music you bring yourself or something’s that playing on the radio, turn that shit up and calm the fuck down. Sing along if you want. Dance in your car if you want. Whatever takes you to a happy place, get on it.

2.) Affirmations. Just repeat to yourself “There is no reason I need to be at my destination this very minute” or “calm down, you’ll get to your destination eventually” or “this isn’t the Oregon Trail, you don’t have to rest for three days until conditions improve.” Of course, this only works if you’re legitimately not running late for anything. If you are running late for something incredibly important, then you’re s.o.l.

3.) Take in the sights. You’re probably not looking around much on your daily commute, so take those times when you’re stuck in traffic to look around you. You might find some cool things, like a pretty tree you never noticed before or a hole-in-the-wall shop that you might want to check out some time. Granted, not all commutes are pretty, but do your best.

4.) Meditate. If you’re into that kind of thing. Just don’t close your eyes for too long…

5.) Think about stuff. Happy or productive stuff, though. Things like what groceries you need to get, ideas for a project at work or school, clever ways to ask out that guy or girl you’ve been eyeing for a while, what to have to dinner, and where you’d want to go for vacation. Avoid things like how your life is being wasted away sitting in traffic or how you could have avoided being stuck behind that accident had you taken a different route home after work.

Try some of these techniques while out on the road… maybe it’ll make your drive a little less stressful.

Also, now that’s nice out, I need to try and not swear aloud so much while I drive because people might hear me when I have the windows down.

Also also:

Making left turns correctly

I’m sure we’ve all done it — some more to an extreme than others. However, there are drivers that take extreme to fucking dangerous.

In this post, I’m going to talk about when people turning left cut into the on-coming lane (often into the left turn lane on that side of the intersection). A visual display would probably be helpful:

inters car 1-a

This blue car is not following a path of righteousness. It is following a path through the dark side. The side of the road that he/she is not supposed to be on.

This frustrates the hell out of me when I’m entering a turn lane and have to slam on the breaks before I am hit by one of these assholes. I once saw someone turn onto a road and drive about 50 feet on the wrong side of the road before, you know, driving correctly. Thankfully no one was coming the opposite direction so doom and destruction didn’t occur, but this driving habit is horribly dangerous. This can happen:

inters car 1-b

Why do people find it necessary to take this kind of “shortcut.” It’s not really any quicker than making the turn correctly. It’s just, I suppose, a more direct path to get to where you want to go? Unfortunately, it’s fucking stupid to do that! Do you drive in the opposite lane of traffic for a while when you’re planning on making a left turn into a McDonald’s because it’s a more direct path to the drive-thru. NO! YOU FUCKING DON’T! Why? Because either you’ll hit someone or someone will hit you. It’s pretty much common sense (unless you’re insane and running from the cops) that you stay on your side of the road. Just stay there. It’s not difficult. If that is difficult for you, you need to never ever drive again ever in your entire life. Sell your car. Just get rid of it. You won’t need it. You shouldn’t even have a bicycle. That would be even worse.

Anywho, this is the correct path you should be taking when making a left turn:

inters car 1-C redone

You drive forward a bit so the front of your car will be able to make it to the correct side of the road you are trying to turn onto without having to cut off that bottom turn lane. This is step one, and the most important step. How far you drive straight  forward will vary depending on the size of the intersection and the size of the vehicle, but you must go straight FIRST (sorry Paint made the whole “straight line” idea a bit difficult, but you get the idea). Naturally, some problems can occur when there are people trying to turn from both sides of the intersection and there’s not really enough room in the middle to accommodate both, but you can figure it out.

Plan your turn. For those of us that do participate in some sort of automotive sport, this is a pretty automatic judgement. For all of you who drive to work, the grocery store, and the doctor’s office and hate driving in general, this is going to be a mental workout. “Is this far enough? Am I actually going straight? When do I start my turn? Dear god what am I doing with my life?” But it will be okay. I promise. Trial and error. Hopefully your error doesn’t end up being an accident, but when no one’s in that bottom turn lane, don’t cheat. Work on, you know, driving properly and not being a dick. It will pay off in the long run. Just because you got your license doesn’t mean you get to stop learning about the skill of driving.

Dick move, bro.

Dick move, bro.

Ah yes, the rare and endangered Ford SUV must be protected by all forms of douchey magic — like parking in a couple parking spaces at once! This person needs to take a good look at their life and figure out whether they’re blind or just a complete and utter asshole.

Now, I’ve mentioned a Corvette that did something similar in a previous post. That’s slightly more understandable, but still not something you should ever do because people don’t care that you have a nice car and will, at minimum, think about doing terrible things to it because they are offended by your perceived self-importance… and/or find it fucking hilarious and want to challenge your narcissistic world view.

If you’re THAT afraid of your car being hit/brushed up against/dinged… don’t go anywhere where you will have to use a parking lot! Simple as that. I understand that emergencies do arise where you must, perhaps, stop at a McDonald’s because you desperately need to pee, but that doesn’t give you the right to park like a prick.

My exceptional frustration with this particular instance is that this isn’t even a nice car… It’s not. No matter what the owner may think. It’s not part of any exclusive club. This is completely unnecessary. Their action is viewed as both inconsiderate and asinine by anyone who sees it. Unless this person is dying to be hated by everyone, they’re just a complete idiot.

I may have rambled there, but:

TLDR: If your car fits in one parking space, only use one parking space. Always.

Yield Signs vs. Stop Signs

I realize this is a difficult topic for some–telling the difference between shapes and color patterns–but it’s important that everyone knows the very important distinction between what a yield means and what a stop means.  So, let’s begin.

This is a stop sign:

Please note its octagonal shape. An “octagon” is a shape that has 8 sides connected by 135° angles. The octagon is red with a white border and white letters that read STOP.  You may also see the word “STOP” painted onto the ground next to the stop sign. You have to stop here no matter what. Educate yourself on intersections with stop signs here.

This is a yield sign:

Note the shape. This is a triangle. It only has 3 sides, and all the angles must add up to 180°. The colors are similar here. There is a white outline, followed a red section, and then there’s a white triangle in the middle, and then the word “YIELD” written in red. You only have to stop at a yield sign if it is not safe to continue from that point. One of the definitions of yield is  “to give way to or become succeeded by someone or something else.” In essence, you don’t have the right of way at a yield sign. You are surrendering your self-importance and letting someone else go first. This could mean waiting for a long line of cars to pass and then continuing behind those vehicles, and/or someone coming at a perpendicular angle to where the yield sign is. Yields are common in roundabouts (that’s a whole other mess in itself), and you’re not supposed to stop before entering a roundabout unless it is unsafe to do so. Basically, if you’re going to hit/nearly hit someone, or get hit/nearly hit by someone, you should probably stop for a moment. (You don’t even have to do a real stop at yields! You can keep rolling like so many people do at stop signs anyway.)

In the instance I experienced yesterday, I was on an off ramp, heading towards a main road. The road was separated by a median, so you could only go one way when you get off. There is a yield sign at the end of this off-ramp, and there is rarely a need to stop. However, this jerk decided to go about 20 mph on the off-ramp (sure it was a curve, but come on), and then proceeded to STOP at a YIELD sign when NO ONE was coming. Like, full on stop. They then decided to inch forward a little and continue moving at the speed of continental drift until I passed them sort of angrily. This stuff also happens ALL the time at roundabouts and drives me nuts. The point of a roundabout is to reduce traffic congestion. If it’s safe, enter the roundabout. If there’s someone about to drive past you, wait. Some roundabouts are set up HORRENDOUSLY, but we’ll save that for another discussion.

“You keep saying, ‘when it’s safe to do so,’ but how do I know when it’s safe!?” You may be asking with a slight panic setting in.

The simple answer: You plan ahead.

You should never be tunnel visioned while driving, but we’ve all been guilty of that. We need to break that habit, though. When approaching a yield sign, look around you. In the case of the off-ramp, I look onto the road a couple times as soon as I can see it, and then plan what speed I need to be at (similar to merging). If there’s no way in hell I’m going to get on the road because of heavy traffic, I’ll slow down, yield to the cars with the right-of-way, and then continue when I get a chance. When coming to other yield signs, make sure you look both ways and all that stuff BEFORE getting there so you know if you have to stop or not. It’s pretty simple.

New and Improved

Welcome to the new and improved website for Where Did You Learn How to Drive! Tumblr isn’t quite the right format for text… they’re a little more picture-y… So I have made this wordpress, which I think will probably work better for the purpose of this blog.  I’ll upload all the posts from the tumblr website to keep everything in one place. You can still go back to the tumblr one I guess.  I’ll leave it up just for fun.

Anywho, look for a new post coming today or tomorrow, and look for all the old ones to show up on here.  Thanks for reading!