Learn how to drive

We call it the “LA cell phone conversation”:

“Hi, how are you?”,
“Good, how are you stupid idiot, watch where you’re going!
“Sorry, some idiot just cut me off”

Maybe I’m just noticing it more, but it seems the amount of bad driving going on out there is really increasing these days. Most of getting your pilot’s license is learning the procedures that have been developed over the years to keep planes coordinated and flying safely. Since I’ve gotten my pilot’s license, I’ve gained more respect for the procedures used in driving, and I’ve also noticed how frequently they are broken. At the same time I’ve noticed how many accidents could have been avoided if people were following the simple rules they teach in every driving school.

Here are five points people seem to have forgotten that can easily save your life:

  • Yellow means stop.
    Stop lights used to be just red and green. The problem was, people would panic and slam on the brakes when the light suddenly turned red. So they added yellow. Yellow means “stop if you can without slamming on your brakes” (so the guy behind you doesn’t hit you). It doesn’t mean “go very fast to see if you can make it”. I know a few intersections where this rule alone would have prevented a lot of accidents.
  • Going slow on the freeway is bad.
    Those long on ramps and off ramps were developed so that you’d have time to accelerate and decelerate. Entering the freeway at 45 MPH is very dangerous. I’ve personally seen accidents caused by it. The primary cause of speed-related accidents on the freeway is the difference in speed between two cars.

    • When you’re getting on the freeway, accelerate so that you’re at 65 MPH (or whatever the freeway traffic is doing if there’s traffic) by the time you enter the freeway.
    • When you’re getting off the freeway keep freeway speed until you enter the exit ramp, then decelerate.
  • Don’t enter an intersection unless you can get out the other side.
    Not only is this common sense to prevent gridlock; it’s the law.
  • Perform a self-check before you drive.
    A car is a big object, and we take for granted our ability to control it. Pilots use a self-checklist “IMSAFE”, which stands for “Illness, Medical, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, and Emotion”. If you’re too sick, have a medical condition, are stressed out, have been drinking, are tired, or are emotional, don’t drive. Recover, then drive. Driving schools of course teach similar ideas, but I find the IMSAFE checklist helps drive it home in a practical way.
  • Know how to control your car.
    Can you automatically recover from a skid? Do you know what to do if you hydroplane? What if a tire blows, can you correct for it? Many drivers can’t. If you haven’t been taught to drive at a proper driving school, you owe it to yourself, your passengers, and the others on the road to just go. It’ll be fun, and you’ll feel more confident in bad weather or in the event something unexpected happens.

These points are basic and a part of standard driving training and traffic law; yet I see them broken every time I drive. I bet you do too.

Fact is, many of those “idiots on the road” are either us or someone we know. If passing this on saves just one life, it’ll be worth it, so pass it on.

Published by

Grant Grueninger

Grant's been in Software Development and computer-related consulting for over 20 years. He also studied music composition at UC Berkeley and USC. Having learned programming in Silicon Valley in the shadow of Lockheed, he's passionate about good, bug-free software development. He also enjoys quality music composition, but defines "quality" using the criteria of well-produced recordings and well-crafted pieces. As such many pop songs, especially those produced by Max Martin and his associates, match the definition. He maintains this blog in his spare time, using it to share information that either he cares about or thinks others will care about, hoping that those two criteria will at some point meet and garner mutual interest.

5 thoughts on “Learn how to drive”

  1. I think this is my favorite paragraph… *LAUGH*

    Yellow means .stop if you can..

    Stop lights used to be just red and green. The problem was, people
    would panic and slam on the brakes when the light suddenly turned
    red. So they added yellow. Yellow means .stop if you can without
    slamming on your brakes. (so the guy behind you doesn.t hit you).
    Just think in your head how many accidents could be caused just by
    following this rule.

    …guess I should start running yellow lights so I avoid accidents, eh?

    BTW, in case you forgot… YOU LIVE IN LA!!!. I think THAT ALONE should explain a lot — perhaps the only worse places in the US is either Floriduh with their famed Anti Destination League or Boston, where the lines in the street tend only to indicate “direction.” Then again, most of the east coast tends to be pretty crazy, where I think the general motto is “Hey, if they’re dumb enough to be driving out here in the snow, I’M dumb enough to cut them off!”

    Something to add… which I know, is your personal favorite (when was
    your last three-lane change to a freeway exit, Mr. LA Driver?)

    It really helps to know where you’re going. However, we all know everyone has to find their way around new places at some point. You should look at your maps [i]ahead of time[/i] and, when you make the inevitable wrong turn, don’t compensate by attempting to turn at the last minute… on the freeway, for example, you should approach the exit lane a good half mile or [i]more[/i] before your exit (the very minimum being that you only change lanes [i]once[/i] every 100yds); don’t just “dive” from the left lane to the right lane at the bloody last minute, cutting everyone off in the process. Don’t drive past an exit, only to pull over and [i]back up[/i] to make your exit… go to the next one, make a U-Turn, and come back from the other direction. BTW, this goes for surface streets, too. In short, if you’re planning on making a turn, you should be setup and ready [i]before[/i] you get there… don’t turn in to the lane at the last moment and, at least if people are there to see them, [i]use your signals[/i]. Would you expect a pilot to try to force a landing half or three-quarters down the runway? No, you wouldn’t… you’d expect them to [i]go around[/i]. If you’re missing your turn, do the right thing and [i]go around[/i] when you drive, too.

  2. Have I mentioned… one of my biggest pet peeves are folks that will approach a *green* light, slow down, and wait for the bloody last second to move over in to the (red) left hand turn lane. It’s especially annoying if I’m behind them and if, by doing so, they “stick” me at the newly red light (though I can be often intimidating in my stare-down).

    I actually was up next to someone at a red light just a couple of days ago… they were smoking and flicking their ashes out the window on to the ground outside. I think the question was lost on the poor girl, though, when I asked her if her car had come equipped with an ashtray (along with the “friend” she had in the car). I’m guessing it was her parents’ car and she was just trying to not let them know she smoked, or something (considering you could tell smoking was a rather “new” trait for her, just by watching how well she handled the cancer stick).

  3. What I don’t get are people speeding on streets cutting cars off acting like an idiot on the road without signaling only to see them turn into the McDonald’s driveway.

  4. Another particularly annoying driving trait… people that will speed up from behind you to cut in front of you, then slam on the brakes to make the next right turn — when it’d be just-as-easy (and not to mention a whole lot safer) to just turn in or stay behind you and make their right. We see it more in Michigan than in California, I think (particularly with people behind the Jeep when it’s throwing snow or slush). Though, for the life of me, with the 35 inch tires, the lift, and the rather menacing bumper, tow hooks and winch… I really don’t understand how they’d think that cutting us off would be such a wise idea.

  5. It’s scary how unprepared the ‘average’ driver is out there on our roads. The fact that driver education across the country is not required or a weak watered-down version is all that’s needed is a sad statement on our society as a whole.

    Trip Thunhorst
    High Ridge Driving School

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