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Grumpy old driving rules

I may be old, but at least I realize the importance of being safe

Published: Saturday, April 14, 2012 5:00 a.m. CDT

Now that spring is in full swing, people seem to be in more of a hurry on the roads. Or, maybe I’ve entered the grumpy-old-man-driver stage of my life. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter; I’ve been wearing my grumpy-old-man shoes for a while now.

I’m not going to suggest that I’m the world’s best driver, but I’m a cautious driver. There are a lot of kids in our neighborhood, and one of my biggest fears is running over them. We live near a high school, so teens park on our street and walk the rest of the way to school. I’m not so worried about hitting one of those kids; they’re big enough to fend for themselves. But the little ones whose heads can’t be seen through my back window are a concern.

So, I back slowly down the drive, weaving left and right since I can’t seem to keep the car straight while repeatedly checking all the mirrors, possibly creating more of a hazard than if I just gunned it straight back. On the plus side, when people see me backing up from side to side, they tend to make a very wide arc around my car.

Being a cautious driver, though, and being a grumpy old man, it irritates me when I see other people not being cautious. I’m sure it irritates them when they’re behind me going 10 miles per hour with my blinker on for five miles. Seriously, though, I don’t do that. Very often.

Lately, I’ve been so irritated that I made a list in my head of the types of things that irk me while driving. I will share this list with you, and maybe you know someone who practices these habits and you can share the list with them, as if that would change anything.

1) When I leave a space the length of a car between me and the car ahead of me, that is not your space. It is not for you to cram your car into in your endless effort to not be the last guy in the line of cars. When my sleep apnea kicks in for a second, that space is the only thing keeping me from ramming the car ahead of me. Trust me: You don’t want to be in that space.

2) Pedestrians have the right-of-way. Even when they’re wrong, hitting them makes you more wrong. So, when you see a pedestrian walking against the light, lurching your car toward them, blowing your horn, waving your finger and yelling obscenities does not make them walk faster. It just makes you an ass.

3) Accelerating through a yellow — or let’s say “orange” — light is dangerous. You know it’s dangerous. You know it’s wrong. Stop doing it. That’s how my friend’s truck was hit and nearly totaled two weeks ago. One day, it may be you that gets plowed. It is utterly avoidable.

4) Turn signals have been used on cars since 1938. If your car is newer than 1938, it probably is equipped with turn signals. Use them.

5) The turn lane in the center of the road isn’t really a turn lane if you don’t get your whole car into it before you turn. They’re not made for just the front wheels of your car. The driving lane is no longer a driving lane if half of your car is parked in it. Now it’s a nobody-is-driving lane. Especially irritating is when you drive halfway in the turn lane and half in the drive lane as you slow down over half a block or more. It’s not that I’m in such a hurry to get around you, but you are killing my gas mileage.

6) If you’re weaving in and out of traffic, accelerating and braking rapidly and pushing the lights, and then I pull up next to you three blocks after you passed me, you have not decreased the speed of your trip. All you have really decreased is your gas mileage. And all the respect that I had for you. Aw, I’m just kidding. I didn’t have any respect to begin with.

7) I forget what number seven is. That’s the good part of being a grumpy old man: I don’t have to remember. Even better: I don’t care. And I can say things like “I forget” instead of “I forgot.” I don’t care.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. So, if you see me coming down the road, it might be just as well to pull over and let me by. And if my horn is a-blowin’, well, it’s probably stuck.

© Copyright 2012 by David Porter who can be reached at david@ramblinman.us. All rights reserved. Or should we say all rights-of-way reserved? I know it’s not a funny line, but it’s late and I’m tired. (Whispers: I don’t care.)

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