Source: Sherman Publications

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Editor's column - The motor city drives?

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

August 22, 2012

It's been a long time coming, I've been avoiding it, it's going to be 600 words of complaining but here it is - let's talk about driving and the population's inability to do it.

Besides, if it wasn't complaining, it wouldn't be and I'd want someone to call the cops.

It's difficult to begin on this subject. From being cut off, to giant tires on a pickup truck to those intentionally noisy muffler add-ons, virtually everything about driving annoys me from a level of mild annoyance to seething rage. I've often considered moving to a city for the express purpose that I would never have to drive again, but to be fair, a city probably holds more sources of anger than would be alleviated by not having to drive.

Preference for public transit aside, it is an every day occurrence that another motorist does something so stupid it sticks with me for the rest of the day. I've toned down my vocal protests because as of recent I often have passengers who are understandably annoyed by my frequent outbursts, but on average, 10 miles of road holds about three outburst worthy driving offenses. I could write a book on why motorcycles are a bad idea and that their drivers are sometimes the most hypocritical people on the planet ("No one respects me on the road! Now excuse me as I blitz by you on the highway going 100 mph"). I could speak for ages on the frivolousness of modifying your car beyond any recognitions (can anything scream "look at me" louder?). These subjects are too broad, so lets keep it somewhat simple - courtesy on the road.

Never mind actual law abiding, because no one seems to do that. I mean to point out that seemingly, whenever someone gets into a car, manners go right out the window. Sometimes this goes to the extreme in that obeying the law (using a turn signal to merge) can make other people go out of their way to make driving less convenient for you.

I'll start with the most recent offense I encountered and one of my favorite to point out. The Made-a-mistake-and-will-hold-up-traffic-to-fix-it Driver. You know this guy or gal: he's the one who realizes at the light that he needs to be one lane over to turn left. He forces the nose of his car into the left hand turn lane, but the straight lane turns green first, so now there's a line of traffic piled up behind this guy who cannot get into the left hand turn lane because traffic there has not begun to move.

He could save his time and everyone else's by not being an inconsiderate cretin and accepting his fate, driving straight through the intersection, turn left into a business and turn right out. Then it's just a matter of turning right onto his destination road and chances are it would have been faster.

If you find yourself in this situation, imagine what your driving will do to those around you and the answer will be obvious. Road rage starts somewhere - don't cause it if you can help it.

Another frequent problem I run into is the You-have-to-slow-down-so-I'll-just-pull-out Driver. The situation unfolds as a driver needs to pull out and there are two lanes, one clear, one not. So instead of waiting for the giant window he has behind you, who are cruising along at 55 mph, he pulls out directly in front of you, forcing you to suddenly slow and waste precious miles per gallon. Then instead of speeding up at an urgent rate, he slowly cruises up to just five under the speed limit.

This is just common sense. If there's not room, don't go. If you must go (as a former pizza delivery driver I understand a bit), speed up as much as you can, safely, to compensate for the rapid arriving anger coming from behind. It's just making a good judgment call instead of acting like an impatient child.

Nearly done here, but the last offense I'd like to mention is the Honks-at-people-in-traffic Driver. Now I've noticed this less frequently in actual traffic and more at stop signs. This is particularly frequent at roads leading to M-24 and seems to always happen during heavy traffic times.

So let me pose you the question, he who so easily honks: if the road is congested with hunks of two ton metal hurling along at 45-55 mph, where exactly do you want me to go. I could wait for a break in traffic, or for the light up the road to turn red, but you seem to want me to create an accident so you can have the road to yourself. Well I'm sorry, but you'll have to use that horn until it gives out, because your little act of indignation has not only had no effect on our situation, but has now made me more likely to spurn you in any way that I can.

The end of the story is that on the road we're all in this together. The lack of communication outside of hand gestures and loud horns has made the experience an almost universally aggravated one. Everyone has a place to be and a preferred speed at which to get there, so just think about if your actions, which save you literally seconds of time, will cause another person to lose minutes.

So stay in the right lane if you want to go slow. Use the indicators and if you see an indication light, don't rush to cut them off. Park in one space, not two. Just try to be as nice as you would be if you were a pedestrian in the same situation.

Also a small shout out to semi-truck drivers. Do not cut these guys off. They make their money on efficient driving and they have double the number of gears to shift, so have a little courtesy.