Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The other night I had the good fortune to sit down in front of the television which was tuned to "Canada's Worst Driver." I watched with utter horror as five people were asked to pull into four spaces in a parking lot, with the last person out losing the challenge.
The most appalling were two of the drivers, one who asked her friend to get out of the car and save a parking space by standing in it, and another man who just pulled into the parking space from the other side while another driver was trying to park.
Now, having been a part of not one, but two collisions in the past year (hello terrible insurance rates) I can't claim to be among the highest caliber of drivers, but I've learned from my mistakes and am now a lot more careful. I think good driving is something that is learned and continually practiced.
What I'd like to blog about is courteous driving, which I think is a fundamental element in what makes a good driver.
Here are 5 things I've seen recently on the road that do not qualify any of the drivers in this incident for the courteousness award.
1. You know those signs that precede passing lanes that say "Keep right except to pass"? Well, in this particular passing lane, which I entered with the intention of passing the slower car in front of me, there was a sign with this message at the beginning and the middle of the passing lane. Yet this ridiculous driver insisted on tootling along in the left lane, so I drove into her blind spot, just praying that she wouldn't suddenly have an epiphany and change lanes, and I passed her on the right, glared at her and wondered if she was driving in that lane because she didn't know left from right, or if she just preferred the smoother ride of the lesser used lane. When she looked at my car in surprise I realized she just didn't know I was there. Mirrors are on the car for a reason honey, use them.
2. Tailgaters... If I'm going 110 km per hour on the highway, and you are also going 110 about 2 seconds behind me and a large buck runs out on the road, is it then my responsibility to hit the deer, let the antlers puncture my windsheild and possibly parts of me so that you don't hit me from behind? The physics are simple. You can't go from 100 to 0 in 2 seconds unless you hit something stationary. We all have places to go and things to do. Giving people space on the road is not only courteous, it's just plain safe.
3. Letting someone in... I run into this frequently in the city, where I might let someone whose lane is ending into the line of traffic and get people honking at me, or them. I never know which. But seriously people, if YOU were the "stupid" person who had the choice of merging into traffic or driving into the median or wall beside you, wouldn't you appeal to the mercy of other drivers? Well, apparently people in rush hour are too busy waiting in line to care about other people. If you were walking down a narrowing sidewalk would you push someone into the wall or out onto the street rather than walking single file? I don't think so.
4. Parking... Ever pull into a parking lot and see a vehicle parked over two parking spaces? Or how about someone who has parked so haphazardly that if you do happen to park beside them, walking away on the same side as your door is going to prove difficult? Oh and my favorite, how about the people who park so close to your car that you must suck in and squash your appendages, holding your hand between their car and your door, just so you can get in and drive away? I think more time should be spent on parking in drivers ed. I also think people who park in the above listed ways should be shown no mercy and ticketed.
5. Not acknowledging other's kindness.... Ever let someone in and have them not raise their hand or nod a thank-you? Ever motion for someone to walk or drive ahead while you're stopped or in a parking spot and have them drive on? Ever pull over to help someone on the side of the road without a word of thanks? I think this is one of the key reasons why people just cut us off, don't let us into their lane, steal our parking spaces and generally just ignore our genuine needs on the road... because they don't expect other people to act kindly or courteously toward them.
Just a little food for thought.