About Driver's Ed rev. 09.05.2011
[and the car I got that ticket in was a 6-cylinder 1967 Pontiac Tempest automatic....]
First update since 12.10.2008... Watch This.
Some general rules I drive by...
- Use directional signals for ALL turns AND lane changes… no exceptions. If it doesn't flash 3-5 times, you turned it on too late. Directional signals are there to let other drivers know what you're intending to do, so they don't get surprised. Surprises cause accidents.
- Forget the "stay back two seconds" or "one car-length for ever 10 miles per hour" rules in the driver's manual. Those are the right answers for the test, but in real life, stay back THREE seconds.
- Look both ways before pulling into an intersection after stopping for a light or stop sign. Then look TWO MORE TIMES each way. Takes time; saves lives.
- You don't REALLY need to accelerate that quickly, and it will save you lots of gas money if you do it more gently.
- If you're waiting for the last 20-30 feet to put the brakes on for stopped traffic, stop signs or traffic lights, you're waiting WAY too long and wasting your brakes AND gas… for a "perfect driver," a passenger can't tell when the car comes to a stop, because you've been braking that smoothly. I once had a passenger ask me if my car was an automatic or stick. "Stick," I replied. "Oh, it's so smooth, I thought it was an automatic," they answered. Now, THAT's a compliment.
- Keep your eyes moving ALL the time: hazards can come from any direction, even when things look safe and comfy.
- "Most accidents occur close to home" because most DRIVING happens "close to home." Beware of misleading statistics.
- Check your tires. Low pressure in the rear tires can cause dangerous "oversteer," where you turn the steering wheel a little and the car turns more than you expected… this causes spin-outs and bad accidents. Much more dangerous than low front tire pressure, but check them all, too.
- Headlights: Put them on at dusk, not "when you can see their light on the pavement." At dusk, they're more valuable in making your car visible to other drivers than anything to so with your ability to see the road.
Here's what you're doing wrong and how you can make a change that will improve your own safety and the safety of others....
- You're following too close. ["tailgating"]
- What to do? Back Off [duh!]
- If you're not three seconds behind the car in front of you, at all speeds, you're too close!
- How can you tell? Easy: as the car in front of you passes a mark on the road, like the end of a dashed line striped on the pavement, start counting, "one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi" and see if your car reaches that mark on the road before you're done counting. If you get there before you're done counting, you're too close.
- No, it doesn't matter if you're "young and have good reflexes." If you're closer than that, you can't stop in time if they panic stop. Period. End of story. Believe something else, and you're flat-out wrong, and will inevitably damage cars or people in the process.
- Got a favorite cure for tailgaters? Mine are:
- Put on your emergency flashers. Most tailgaters back of if you do this.
That usually gives you time to move over into a slower lane.. or even to the shoulder of the road, and let the moron by...
- Just take your foot off the gas and let your car slow down by itself... no brakes... and let the moron pass you on the right or left or... well, those are the usual choices.
I've tried slamming on my brakes, but usually the tailgater thinks there's something wrong with you, if you do that.. and it's a relatively unsafe teaching method.
Next, how close is too close when you stop for a red light?
Just for the record, one guy pulled up close behind me when I was first in line at the light. I pulled up, to make safety room. He pulled up. I pulled up.
He pulled up. The light changed to green. I didn't move. The light stayed green. I didn't move. The light turned yellow. I waited a second, and blasted through the intersection on the yellow, leaving him facing a red light.
- Easy one, here, and your dad probably never told you this one, either: If you can't see the bottoms of the rear tires of the car in front of you, you're too close.
- Period. No exceptions.
- If you're closer than that, you're running the risk of trapping yourself behind the car in front of you if their engine stalls, or if they get out of their car and start coming towards you, or if the car behind you tries to carjack yours! You won't have maneuvering space to get out of there!
- You like taking risks like that? Pull up closer.
- But remember, if its me you're pulling up behind, when the light changes, I won't move, and you'll see just what the results are for your "let's try to make them to go faster" plan.
He was too close to pull around me and pass me.
I've been driving since 1962 [not counting some not-so-legal practice with my dad for about ten years before that], including the years since mid-1978 in California. My first car was a 1969, 427 cubic inch. [seven liters!] 390hp Corvette; other cars were a '73 Mazda RX2 with a 7000 rpm redline, a '63 Fiat Spyder with twin overhead cams, a '77 Pontiac Tempest that cornered flatter than the '427 Corvette, and a 1969 '350 [5.7 liter] 350hp toy, and my current '04 Prius, which will cruise day and night, uphill or down, at over 83 mph.
I've never been issued a ticket in any of those cars for speeding.
The one ticket I've gotten in my life [so far... let's not laugh in the face of fate...] was for 50 in a 45 zone, when I was passing a woman who'd been weaving all over the road and doing all speeds from 25 to 50 mph for the previous mile and a half.
But I learned my lesson, there. The judge ain't gonna cut you no slack, even for a plausible argument. The safest place is behind a moron like that, not trying to pass her! Nowadays you'll be in a better position to dial up emergency rescue for them later on your cellphone.
Anyway, back to the story... what's my secret? Easy:
- Where the speed limit signs say anything under 35, do that speed, and never more than about 3-4 mph over that.
This is not rocket-science. Those streets are usually city streets, and going faster will prove dangerous to people on the street and you. Those streets just can not be driven faster, safely. Live with it.
- Where the posted speed limit is 45 or more, go at least that speed, but if traffic is moving faster, go with the flow, not passing more cars than are passing you.
- In other words, if you're the one doing all the passing, you're a target, and will get nailed, eventually... and,
- If everyone is passing you, you're a hazard. Pull over, take a nap, or use surface streets, or some alternate route.
First rev: 12.29.2004