Looking Both Ways
This post of Look Both Ways addresses a much needed training issue often neglected by our State Governments – required minimum training and remedial training for all operators of vehicles on our roads – not just truck drivers. Of course you could be a professional truck driver stuck inside a car driver’s body and need some additional or refresher training also. Scary stuff, eh? If so this blog should help you think about the most common disregarded rules of the road and help you attain some common driving courtesy. Want to put an end to road rage? Read on and then pass the info along to someone that needs this – like your state legislator that regulates the curriculum for driver’s education in your state. In my home state of Ohio, The Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws is required reading if you're preparing to get your Ohio driving permit or license. It's even a good idea for experienced drivers to review the learning material because it contains a lot of useful information, including some things that you may have forgotten since you first passed your driving test.
relates to general courtesy rules which operators of vehicles
follow while driving. The term driving
etiquette dates back to even the days of horse-drawn carriages. Good driving etiquette typically involves
being courteous, staying alert and not allowing anything to distract you or
take away your undivided attention to the task at hand – driving the car or
truck. Today’s distractions include
many electronic devices such as cell phones, satellite communication devices,
in cab DVD players and stereo systems. Distractions
also include food. I have seen people
eating a bowl of cereal while driving their cars. Makeup being applied to a face in a vanity
mirror, or coiffing a bad hair-doo is also a very common distraction. Yep, I see it every day – people attempting
to make the hairs on their head into a rat, beehive, bouffant, lock, ringlet,
whorl, curl Afro, bang, fringe, bob, wave. braid, plait, tress, twist, chignon,
marcel, pompadour, ponytail, roach, thatch or scalp lock out of the terrible
haircut they paid good money for, all while operating their vehicle.
A driver’s lack of courtesy can easily frustrate even the most patient and professional driver. The most common motor vehicle laws and courtesies that I think are disregarded in today’s driving society are:
Â· Not keeping right and passing left, or driving in the passing (left) lane
Â· Not using turn indicators
Â· Not knowing what a yield sign means
Â· Not knowing what double yellow lines mean
Â· Not yielding to pedestrians
Â· Disregard for texting and cell phone laws
Â· Motorists that attempt to merge next to you, operating at the same speed as your vehicle
Â· Parking in handicapped spaces
Â· Carrying on personal business in the middle of a street (conversations, drug deals, etc...)
Â· Use of a single finger because you’re offended that a considerate driver reminded you to be courteous!
Â· Driving with and around large commercial trucks
Etiquette is not mandated by law. Let’s look at what the law does say about a few of these misunderstood courtesies, laws and misconceptions.
Remember: The left lane is for passing, the right lane is for driving!
Not worried about doing the speed limit or arriving to your destination in an efficient manner? – Get out of the left or passing lane. Probably the most annoying or frustrating type of driver is the slow mover, distracted while driving, in the left lane knucklehead. You know, the person talking on a handheld cell phone in one hand, a Twinkie in the other, steering the vehicle with their knees. If you’re not about living life in the fast lane and more of a slow cruiser, keep in mind that not everyone else is in your cruising mode. Many folks need to take care of business, and are trying to get to where they’re going. It’s Driver’s Ed 101. Perhaps you’ve forgotten this rule: The left lane is the passing lane. So keep in the right lane unless you’re passing, the people attempting to get to their destination quickly will appreciate you for it. I get the feeling that many current Drivers Education classes neglect to train and test students on this rule. It should be a mandatory fail on the driving test if a driver misses this point. This is the main reason that the Autobahn works so well in Germany. People there are awarded steep fines for not keeping right and passing left. This is surely the number one cause of Road Rage.
You must activate your turn signal a minimum of ______ feet before turning?
The correct answer is 100 feet.
Not using your turn signals is just plain dangerous and not considerate to other motorists.
A driver must yield the right of way:
Â· When directed by a yield sign.
Â· When crossing or entering a through highway from a smaller, less traveled road.
Â· To a vehicle approaching from the right at an intersection of two similar roads without a traffic control device.
Â· To a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, or at an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
Â· On the approach of a public safety vehicle
Â· For all vehicles which are part of a funeral procession. Each vehicle in the funeral procession must have its headlights lit and must display a purple and white pennant.
Â· To oncoming traffic when making a left turn.
Â· To traffic approaching an intersection before making a right turn at a red light.
Yep, all of the above.
Yellow lines are usually used for left edge lines on one-way roadways. What do solid double yellow lines mean? Answer: It means, you can't cross over it for any reason, unless instructed to do so by a police officer.
White lines are used as right edge lines on roadways and to delineate the separation of
traffic flow in the same direction. Solid white lines are also typically used as the
lane line in areas where lane changing is discouraged, i.e., tunnels or bridges
having width restrictions, interchange areas where lane changes disrupt traffic
flow and in advance of intersections. I always interpret the word “discouraged” to mean “do not do it”.
For the safety of all involved, motor vehicle operators should yield to pedestrians in the roadway, however, pedestrians have a legal obligation to obey all traffic signals and posted signs. It is tough to yield to pedestrians that suddenly appear from between parked cars.
Cell Phone and texting laws
Distracted driving is a deadly behavior. Federal estimates suggest that distraction contributes to 16% of all fatal crashes, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year. Want to make the roads safer and prevent deaths? Completely outlaw cell phone use of any kind in ALL vehicles – not just Commercial Motor Vehicles. Enough said. I would guess that a reduction in Road Rage incidents would also occur.
Upon entering a traffic lane from a service plaza, interchange, shoulder, or entrance ramp, the operator of a motor vehicle shall use the acceleration lane and the operator shall enter the outer lane with caution so as not to interfere with or endanger traffic. The operator of a vehicle entering a traffic lane shall yield the right of way to vehicles already on the traffic lanes. How about not trying so hard to enter the highway with the vehicle next to you operating at the same speed. Want to get on the highway? – Speed up or slow down – don’t push another vehicle into another lane.
You are wishing to turn right at this intersection. With the light green in both directions, are you required to yield to opposing traffic turning left? Please post your answer in the comments section below.
Handicapped Parking Spaces
These spaces are reserved for those folks that have true and documented handicaps. It is absolutely wrong to park in these spaces unless you are truly handicapped.
Carrying on personal business in the middle of a street
I am not quite sure how this came about and I will never understand, but the idea that folks stop their cars in the middle of a roadway to carry on personal business is frustrating. No motorist should be detained or held hostage because another motorist is blocking the roadway with their vehicle conducting a personal conversation, drug deal or other personal business. Please be courteous and pull your vehicle off the road and park in a legal parking spot to conduct your business.
The single finger salute
Most often the middle finger belongs to the motorist who was NOT being courteous in the first place. Please be a courteous driver and obey traffic laws while keeping all fingers to yourself. Don’t be so easily offended if other motorists make you aware that you are not being a courteous driver.
Driving with and around large trucks
Trucks have limitations in terms of maneuverability, stopping distance and blind spots. Generally when driving near trucks, remember, the bigger they are:
”¢ the bigger their blindspots
”¢ the more room they need to maneuver
”¢ the longer it takes them to stop
”¢ the longer it takes them to pass
Many of the crashes involving trucks could be avoided if motorists remembered a truck’s limitations. Steer clear of unsafe situations involving trucks. Please give trucks more room, especially if you have just passed them and are now changing lanes in front of them.
Please also remember that if you have an item in your home or business – chances are great that a professional truck driver transported that item. How about giving some “props” to the professional drivers while out on the road – it’s the only way they know you appreciate them!
All I’m askin’ for is a little R E S P E C T... Aretha J
There are a number of traffic laws and courtesies that could have also been addressed in this particular blog, but were omitted due to length.
What are some possible solutions to get ALL of the motoring public to adhere to ALL motor vehicle laws and driving courtesies which will lower crashes, injuries and fatalities?
Â· The general motoring public should be held to higher training standards similar to training required of Professional Commercial Drivers.
Â· Acknowledgement by state governments that the lack of knowledge of even one specific rule by a licensed driver can lead to tragic fatal accidents. Driver’s license applicants should be required to exhibit true knowledge of all critical and acute motor vehicle laws. In other words, if you answer incorrectly to any of the core (critical or acute) questions, the driver’s license applicant is NOT issued a driver’s license.
Â· Minimum score standards should be raised for all driver’s license applicants. Higher test scores required, and require license applicants to correctly answer those questions missed or prove competency in skills where points deducted during testing for a driver’s license.
Â· Fine for willful lack of consideration or common courtesies just as traffic laws.
Â· Mandate remedial or recurrent training of license holders.
Â· Legal systems standards for settlements or awards (should be the same for cars or trucks)
Â· Mandatory random and post-accident testing for ALL motor vehicle operators. Without testing state governments allow vehicle operators using drugs and alcohol to hurt themselves.
Â· How about a “CSA” program for all motor vehicle opertors? Think about it – the MVR and “points” system does not give an adequate representation of an individual’s driving history. No different than SaferSys was not an adequate means for measuring carrier safety performance. CSA is intended to make SaferSys obsolete by providing a better overview of carriers, replacing the MVR program with a new, better designed program may be beneficial for reviewing individual’s (Operator’s license) driving safety performance.
Â· Car operators should be required to carry same levels of insurance as Motor Carriers.
Â· Cell phone and all other devices outlawed in any motor vehicle.
Statistics show that 86% of car vs. truck accidents are caused by car. Another fact is that the 60% figure - of all large truck fatal crashes involving a single car - has remained steady through the years.
You owe it to others on the road to give 100% of your attention to driving. You also owe others the assurance that they can expect you to follow and extend common driving courtesies. Remember - driving is a privilege – not a right!
Disclaimer: This blog is NOT intended to give legal advice, nor be a substitute for any training required by the Regulations.
Till the next blog, Thank you drivers for all you do!. Please be safe!
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John Mueller, CDS, COSS