I’m not sure if drivers have always been discourteous or if it’s a new phenomenon but I’ve definitely been noticing a lot of people of late who just don’t like sharing the road with other drivers.
Many moments stand out to me, such as the people who honk if you don’t turn immediately when the light turns green, nevermind that you’re making sure the coast is clear to turn. People often say you don’t have to worry about checking the “safe” directions at turns or one-ways, but I’d argue that I always check those because I’ve encountered far too many people driving the wrong direction down streets or turning when they shouldn’t. It is something I see a lot more downtown and in parking lots than other places. People seem to ignore signs and arrows on pavement. With that in mind, I check both ways – even if I don’t “have” to. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
People also like to stay on your bumper, a practice I’ve never understood. You can be going a reasonable speed but the speed buggy behind you will be so determined to arrive at their destination two seconds faster than they might have previously, that they’ll risk rear-ending you to do it. You never know what you’re going to encounter on the road.
A pedestrian or other road hazard could present itself and suddenly you’re slamming your brakes or swerving to miss it. Without reasonable padding between you and the vehicle behind you, it can become very bad, very quickly.
I was one of many drivers who started out very anxious about driving. I was distinctly aware of the fact I was in control of a potential death machine. Cars are powerful and dangerous, but the pinnacle of modern miracles and an asset to our everyday lives if operated properly and safely.
Because of that, I take great responsibility in how I drive – I do my best to be a defensive driver and I always have. One thing that made it very difficult when I was starting was drivers who got too impatient because I paused a second longer before I turned, because I was new and inexperienced in driving and wanted to be sure I was exercising safety for myself and others. The blaring horn behind me didn’t make things any easier, and sometimes made me make turns sooner than I should have but, gratefully, I never crashed.
I say all of this to bring attention to the fact drivers can make strides to make the road a safer place by being courteous. Maybe think a second before blaring your horn at others – they could be a new driver or see a threat you don’t see, and leave a few minutes earlier to get to your destination so you’re not compelled to tailgate. These small changes don’t take much energy, but they could certainly make the road a little bit safer.
Standard reporter Nikki Childers can be reached at 473-2191.