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Driver habits: The good and the bad

September 4, 2013
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Did you ever hear anyone admit to being a bad driver? Probably not, because everybody thinks they're a good driver. They also think that everybody else is a menace on the road. If we perfect drivers ride with another driver, we can usually find fault with their performance. Believe it or not, if they ride with us, they can return the favor.

How can we tell a good driver from a bad one? The number of traffic accidents they have had would be an obvious indicator, but not necessarily the only one. There are drivers who have habits that cause others to have accidents.

For instance, imagine you are following two slow cars and, when the way is clear, you signal and pull out to overtake them. As you come along side the first one, he begins to pull out to overtake the car in front of him, not seeing you because you are in his "blind spot." You might have a crash, which he causes, and he goes on his merry way.

Many people drive with a blind spot on either side of their cars, roughly alongside the rear fenders. It's simply a bad habit on their part, of not adjusting the mirrors.

The solution is to set the outside mirrors so that they see into the blind spots. This is accomplished by turning them both out until you can't quite see any of your own vehicle in them, unless you move your head. Keeping them set showing the sides of your car leaves the blind spots. You don't need to see directly behind you with the side mirrors, because that is covered by the inside rearview mirror, unless your lady friend is using it to adjust her lipstick. Buy her a mirror for her visor, you cheapskate.

Suppose you are in an intense rain storm. You slow down to 35 mph, and run into a car doing 10 mph. You complain that he didn't have any taillights showing, but he says he didn't turn his lights on because his car has those new "daytime running lights" so he didn't need to. That's another bad habit.

Here's a wake-up call for that driver: daytime running lights do not illuminate the taillights. Florida law requires that headlights be turned on when the wipers are turned on, and that automatically turns on the taillights. It is not to see better, it is to be better seen. Not to be confused with being better looking. That's a different subject.

You're late for an appointment, crowding the speed limits a little, and get behind a car in the left lane that is matching the speed of a car in the right lane. You flash your lights, blow your horn and are ignored. He has paid his taxes, has a right to the road and is doing almost the speed limit. You are the one likely to get into a crash here, not him. If you are the driver I'm talking about, blocking the left lane, listen up: YOU ARE NOT A COP. Pardon me for yelling, but it is not your job to make other drivers slow down. You are causing road rage, which causes wrecks. Florida now has a law against your habit of staying in that left lane. Use it for overtaking, and then get back in the right lane. See, I'm getting road rage just thinking about you. I may cause my computer to crash because of you. Move over, dammit.

You are making a left turn off of a busy street into a driveway. You wait and wait for oncoming traffic to give you a break. A gap appears, and you start your turn across the oncoming lane and then see a bicycle on the sidewalk, coming from behind you, crossing the driveway. You have to stop in the road to wait for him to cross in front of you. You are blocking oncoming traffic, and could cause a wreck. It's a tough one, but you should have been looking behind you as you waited. There is no other way. It would be nice if the bicyclist was also observant, and stopped for you, but you can't count on that. If you're the bicyclist, you should be watching for cars turning in front of you, and realizing that they may not see you. Right-of-way, schmight-of-way, a collision will hurt you more than it does them, so maybe you should avoid it if you can. Don't yell at the car. He's not afraid of you. He knows you can't hide any weapons in those tight shorts.

Motorcycle riders will tell you that cars very often will pull out directly in front of them. The car drivers say they were looking for cars and trucks, and didn't notice the bike. That's why all bikes have the headlights turned on, and also why Harleys are loud. It's to get your attention. The trick to seeing bikes and motorcycles is to look both ways for traffic, and then think about bikes, and look again. The slogan is "Look twice for bikes." Also, the penalty for hitting a Harley might include a whipping.

Their clothes have room for weapons. I'm just saying.



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