Posted by Double M
I'm going to level with you - I'm smarter than the average person. Way smarter. This doesn't mean I know everything, but I feel that in an average situation I'm probably better off than most of the other people out there. And the reason I'm better off is because I have this set of guidelines that I follow. So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to try to bottle some of this knowledge up into a few posts and share them with you in a little series called Life Rules.
Disclaimer: The views of this do not necessarily reflect those of the other authors on this site.
Today's life rules post covers something that most of you have been doing since you were 15 (or younger) - driving. In particular, I want to focus on interstate or highway driving. It seems to me that, other than airline travel, there are more idiots per person than anywhere else. So it makes sense that the first set of rules is for you, the interstate driver.
1) You are not the only driver on the road (unless you are driving between the hours of 3-5 am, then you may very well be the only driver on the road).
This rule is pretty self-explanatory but is the basis of driving. You are not the only driver on the road and alert drivers will adjust their driving according to what other drivers do. This means that everything you do will affect other drivers.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this because you'll see it play out a lot over the list. That said, if you take one thing away from this post, please make it this.
2) Do not get into the fast lane if you cannot: a) drive at least 5 mph over the speed limit and b) drive faster than the car behind you
These kinds of people are my least favorite people on the road (which is why this drops in at to rule #2). Let me paint a picture for you: I'm cruising at 7-8 over in the fast lane, no issues whatsoever. Then, all-of-a-sudden, some douchebag gets over from the slow lane to pass someone going slower. Sadly, this douche gets in the fast lane and drives the speed limit, slowly passing the person in the slow lane. This, of course, causes a backup of traffic in the fast lane until the d-bag gets waaaaaaay past the person in the fast lane and traffic speeds back up.
Look, I know it sucks to be in the slow lane behind someone going 5 under, but if you aren't willing to go at least 5 over (trust me, 99% of the time you won't get a ticket for this), do not get into the fast lane. If you are going to get over, look back in the fast lane (not just in your immediate vicinity) and see if someone in the fast lane is going to catch up to you while you're passing. If that is the case, wait or speed up.
3) Avoid use of your brakes
As soon as I turned 15, my dad was excited because I could start driving on family road trips. One of the first things he told me was that the interstate is not a place for brakes. Instead, you should try keeping spacing and slow down but letting off the gas. Look, sometimes you'll have to use your brakes (and please do so then), but if you tap your brakes, then the guy behind you taps his brakes a little longer and the guy behind him a little longer than that, and so on and so on. It causes major, usually unnecessary slow downs in traffic. Why did you push your brakes? Oh, you thought you might be going to fast? F. You.
This rule is especially true on ice. Think about it: you are going 55-80 mph and your tires aren't more than likely aren't touching the asphalt because of that super-slick stuff under your tires called ice. If there is ice on the road and you do more than tap your brakes, you will slide. Then you are going to wreck. This is a fact. Learn to keep spacing and slow down without using your brakes.
4) Sweet Jesus, don't slow down/gawk for accidents on the other side of the road, in the shoulder, etc.
I read a book along the way about crowd tendencies and one of the chapters focused on interstate traffic jams that are caused by nothing. And it described the situation like this: there is a car wreck in the median with no impact on either side of the road. Unfortunately, this will cause a traffic jam because each car will slow down approximately 10-20 mph to gawk at the accident which gives each car 10 seconds instead of 2 seconds to look at the crash. Well, the 15 mph slow down actually turns out to be 1-2 mph more for each car (see above) until about 15-20 cars back you are looking at a 40-50 mph slow down, or what basically amounts to crawling on the interstate. Over about 50 cars (which is not all that many cars on the interstate) you can bring the interstate to a stand-still, all because you wanted to stare at the car that harmlessly drove off into the median.
This rule, maybe more than any other, shows the impact that you have on other drivers. You see this all the time on the interstate or in big cities. The next time you're unexpectedly slowed down, and then, for no reason, get back up to full speed, you can thank the 30-100 cars in front of you for needlessly wasting a your time.
5) "Get the hell out of my way"
This is a statement I have said/yelled/mumbled under my breath many times on the interstate. Here's a tip for you that some people apparently don't know: If you are going slow in the fast lane, cars will tailgate your ass - this means they want to go faster than you are currently going. You can either speed up or get the hell out of the way (if you are going 5 try increasing to 7-8 over, wait for the next big opening and get over). Do Not Tap You Brakes (see rule #3) unless you want to be in an accident.
6) Drive the same speed
Interstate driving should be a breeze. Set your cruise control to whatever speed you want and weave in-and-out of traffic all the way to your destination. What's that? You don't have cruise control? That's ok, just drive right about the same mph and we'll be OK.
Unfortunately, because of Mr. I'm going to go 10 over and then I'm going to go 10 under for no apparent reason, interstate driving is not that easy. This past December when driving to Austin, for about an hour there was one guy like this that really annoyed me. I passed him because he was going about 5 under. Next thing I know, he is riding my ass. Following rule #5, I got out of the way and let him fly by me going about 15 over. Suddenly, I caught up to him and then passed him because he slowed down to about 5 under. Within about 30 seconds he was riding my ass again. This repeated again and again. I wanted to kill the guy all because he was rocking a 20 mph difference. That one hour portion of the drive was awful and could have all been saved if he rocked the same speed limit.
7) If I'm trying to pass you, let me pass you
This guy is the ugly step-sister to rule #6. You know the guy - you're trying to pass them and all of a sudden they speed up and prevent you from passing them. Dear guy, why does it matter if you are getting passed? You were clearly fine driving at the speed you were driving. Why does it matter to you that you are getting passed? Regards, Double M
Interstate driving is not about pride (well, for me it is kinda) and getting passed should not affect your pride. If someone is trying to pass you, let them pass you. If you want to speed up, let them go by and then jump in the lane behind them. That way, you get up to the speed you want pretty quickly and you don't come across like a poop bucket.
8) Don't slow down on interstate turns
You don't need to slow down on interstate turns (unless there is a lot of ice). I know this could be pooled in with rule #3, but I feel like this is something that needs to be clarified. Interstate turns are made to handle the speed you are driving. This means you do not need to slow down on those turns. There is nothing more frustrating than sitting through a massive slow down because people wanted to slow down to 50 mph for a slight bend in the road.
If you are one of those people that slows down on the curves, next time you get to a curve don't touch your brakes. Just steer through the turn. Trust me you'll be ok.
9) Merge at the speed of the road
You know why there are always traffic jams at interstate on-ramps? Because people tend to merge 20-40 miles below the actual speed limit. This makes slow drivers want to pass so they get in the fast lane which slows down the fast people which in turn causes a cluterf-ck (mainly because people start using their brakes which leads us to rules 3 and 4). Most of this could be resolved by people merging at the speed of the road so that the people on the interstate don't have to brakes. So, step on the gas and get up to speed - that is what the on-ramp is for.
10) You can pass multiple cars at one time on a two-lane highway.
I know I have focused mostly on interstate driving, but most of the rules can be applied in one way or another to highway driving as well. There is nothing worse than being trapped behind 3-4 tightly packed cars that are going under or right at the speed limit. Instead of being scared to pass them and driving grossly under the speed limit, drop back a little bit, wait for an opening, grow a pair of nuts, and kick your car up to 15 mph over the speed limit. You'll be able to pass all of the cars in one shot and relieve the stress of driving under the speed limit. The same rule can apply to the interstate if you get over and another driver comes up behind you - just kick up your speed and get over when you've passed the cars.
That's it for the first installment of the life rules. If everyone followed these 10 simple rules, our life would be a whole lot better (and we'd probably shave 10-20 minutes off of long interstate drive times). Side note: I know I focused mainly on the interstate, but a lot of these rules can be applied to general driving as well.
Got any extra rules I missed? Let me know in the comments.
The author is not responsible for any resulting life issues taken from following any advice in the life rules
Update: I changed breaks to brakes in the few instances where I made a mistake to appease the first commenter and my own ocd ways