Driving Tips & Truths

I’ve been driving cars for over twenty years now, and what follows is a mixture of helpful tips and venting about stupidity.

  • Turn signals are not for the driver. It would almost be better if they somehow made it impossible to turn left or right, or change lanes, without using a turn signal.  The problem is that doing those things is possible without the turn signal so many drivers don’t use them.  But the turn signal isn’t for the driver, hence why they are on the outside of the car, where the driver could not possibly see them.  This is because turn signals are to tell other drivers what your intentions are and allows them the ability to react.  Brake lights work the same way, which is why it’s nice when people “cover” their brakes (touch the pedal lightly so that the lights kick on but the car isn’t actually braking yet) before they start braking.
  • No one knows what flashing your head lights means. One time, I was driving down the road and a person coming the other direction was flashing their head lights.  Over the next hill there was a police car waiting to catch speeders.  Obviously, flashing head lights means “cop ahead!”  So, another time I was driving and a person coming the other direction was flashing their lights.  I slowed down because there was going to be a cop… only there wasn’t.  Instead there was a large dead animal in the road.  Flashing head lights must mean “something ahead!”  This held true for years as people flashed lights for construction and accidents and other things, until I realized that in my own driving I’d only ever flashed my head lights at two other people and both times it was because the other drivers didn’t have their head lights on after dark, and I recalled someone doing that for me once too.  So, flashing head lights must mean “something!”  In the last twenty years, I’ve come to realize that flashing head lights can mean almost anything from a cop to trash in the road to head lights being off to acknowledging that the driver of the other car is attractive, and so now I pretty much ignore them.  Well, I do make sure my own head lights are on, because that’s the only meaning that matters.
  • No one can see you waving. Really, the only time anyone will ever see you wave is when they are looking for it.  If someone lets you in ahead of them in traffic, a courtesy wave to that someone is not only encouraged, it is greatly appreciated.  Always do it.  On the other hand, if you are coming up on a left turn and you see someone on that street you are about to turn on also wishing to make a left turn, especially if the road you are on is a busy one, there is a temptation to slow down and wave them out.  Only, 90% of the time, they can’t see you waving.  Want to know why?  A) they aren’t looking at you, they are watching traffic for gaps so they can make their left turn.  B) Window tinting and glare and about a dozen other things means when they do look at your car, they can’t see you except for perhaps a faint ghostly swishing of something that might be a wave, but they can’t tell.  By the time they can see you waving, you’ve stopped short, there are now ten cars backed up behind you and the gap in traffic they were actually paying attention to a couple cars back is now closed.  And odds are you may have to honk your horn to let them know you are waiting for them.  Being nice is one thing, letting people in to stop & go traffic is awesome, but if the traffic is flowing, the best thing you can do is to get where you are going as quick as you can.  Don’t stop traffic and break up the flow just to be nice to some random person.

Got any tips or truths you wish to share?

2 comments

  1. Tesh says:

    Turn signals lie. They might be nice if they were actually used properly, but far too often, they aren’t used or are used incorrectly. I heard of a law on the books in Alabama (it might be gone now, it might be apocryphal, I’m not sure) where you are required to signal the same way the guy in front of you is signalling, so everyone down the chain knows what’s going on… somewhere.

    It’s such a stupid hassle that tells drivers *nothing* that many drivers just don’t bother with signals at all.

    I always wait to see what the car is actually doing before committing to a move that might be potentially dangerous based on the signal alone.

  2. Brian Cohrs says:

    Waving at people to let them go ahead of you is not only often not seen, it is sometimes dangerous. In my own experience I was passenger in a car, my friend got waved through (a left turn), but when he proceeded into the turn the guy that waved him through stomped the accelerator and hit us. Seems he was looking for an insurance settlement. My friend lost in court, in spite of my testimony that the other driver had waved him through – it appears that courtesy on the road has no weight in court.

    Since then when someone has tried to be “nice” to me by waving me through a left turn, I simply ignore them and wait. Better safe than sorry.

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