Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 10: Driving Etiquette Mistakes


#10 - "Nudging" pedestrians


Pedestrians, with their silly protections and laws giving them the right of way at crosswalks, can really ruin that perfect, date-impressing turn you’re always ready to execute at an intersection. Able-bodied pedestrians do enough to dampen your low-speed, apex-clipping good time; but then there are times when grandma -- or that Rascal-riding "People of Wal-Mart" reject -- will cross the road at speeds that make even the continental drift a bit impatient. To borrow a catchphrase from our 42nd president: We feel your pain.
Contrary to popular belief, no pedestrian enjoys spending time in the middle of the road, dodging cars just to stay alive. And nine times out of 10, these pedestrians are moving as fast as they can. While you may reclaim an extra second or two of your “valuable” time by honking or crowding pedestrians out of the crosswalk, you will look like a massive douche while doing so. Show society -- and possibly your date -- that you are better than your peers and give these pedestrians the time and space they need to safely cross the road.

#9 – Tailgating


Riding the bumper of the car in front of you won’t help you get to where you need to be any sooner -- especially if you’re stuck in gridlocked traffic. Sure, some of you may feel that you have the driving skills needed to safely pilot your 6,000-pound vehicle with only an iPod nano-sized safety cushion of space, but unless you have the ability to control and defy physics, your driving skills just aren’t up to the task.
We understand the desire to drive faster, but take a minute or two and relax. The destination you’re frantically trying to get to isn’t going anywhere; it will be there regardless of whether you drive six inches or six yards behind the car ahead of you. You’ll also create a safer driving situation that will allow you to save your own ass should the guy in front lose control.

#8 - Driving too slowly


Thoughts of high rates of speed may leave you feeling anxious, but we’re here to tell you that it’s OK to let your car achieve the posted speed limit. Countless numbers of civil engineers have done all sorts of complex calculations to ensure that, weather and road conditions permitting, it is safe to drive at the speed posted on the speed limit sign. Not only that, but thousands of automotive engineers have made sure that the cars they sell -- including yours -- can safely run at those speeds. What does that mean for you? Simple: It means you can use the long pedal on the right to get your car up to the proper velocity.
And while slower speeds may theoretically be safer speeds, driving too slow can pose its own set of dangers. Vehicles moving slower than the flow of traffic (such as those senior citizens driving 35 mph in the fast lane on the freeway) can become dangerous obstacles that cause more harm than good. Save yourself, and our collective sanity, by letting your car get up to the speed limit.

#7 - Double parking


No one thinks your car is cool or special enough to deserve the few extra feet of space “earned” by double parking. Chance are, when people see a double-parked vehicle, they believe that its owner is the overcompensating type who blows entire paychecks on male-enhancement pills. While we certainly won’t claim to fully understand the female psyche, we are pretty sure ladies find this sort of personality trait a turn-off.
Show the world that you are a confident man who doesn’t let his car define him and park your vehicle within the confines of a single parking space. If you feel that your car needs an extra protective cushion of space, find a spot in an uncrowded area of the lot and park your car there. Sure, it may be a few extra feet away from the door, but no one will look down on you for parking in the boonies, and the extra bit of walking could do you some good.

#6 - Leaving your brights on


If you’re driving alone along a dark, unlit road, by all means please make sure you stay safe by turning your high beams on. However, if another car is coming at you, or if you are driving on well-lit city roads, for the love of God, turn those brights off. Keeping your high beams on, and pointed in the eyes of other drivers, is more than just a D-bag move; it’s dangerous.
Blinding oncoming traffic is a good way to get other drivers to temporarily lose control of their vehicles and have them collide head-on with you. Running your high beams while behind another vehicle will have a similar effect, only this time the car ahead will crash and you’ll end up rear-ending them. Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved -- especially you. While on the road, let your chivalry -- not your brights -- shine and use your high beams only when necessary.

#5 - Not letting other cars merge


Too many drivers hog the rightmost lane of the freeway and refuse to even slightly alter their velocity to allow another vehicle to merge ahead of (or sometimes even behind) them. Freeway on-ramps aren’t NASCAR tracks; regular drivers didn’t “earn” their position on these limited-access roads, nor do they have to “defend” it. Refusing to budge to allow another vehicle onto the freeway is not only a dick move, it has the potential to cause a pretty severe accident. If someone is trying to get onto the freeway, let them on. Don’t want to slow down for merging traffic? Change lanes. Problem solved.

#4 - Honking at traffic lights


Some people -- usually those not at the front of a traffic queue -- feel the need to reprimand others for not treating the common traffic light as if it were an NHRA Christmas tree, oftentimes by laying into the horn. For some reason, these people urgently need to get to the next stop light as soon as humanly possible because those extra hundredths of a second make all the difference in the world when rushing to Applebee’s. Don’t worry -- those savory wonton tacos aren’t going anywhere. Save your gas and reduce your stress by letting the guy in front of you take the extra half-second to go when the light turns green.

#3 - "Sharing" your music


You’re confident that, if you were to share your impeccable taste in music with Irving Azoff or Lyor Cohen, your sophistication and expertise would return the music industry to the carefree profitability of the pre-Napster days. You’re the type of fellow who feels that it’s your duty as a responsible citizen to equip your car with the biggest speakers possible so that everyone can get hip to the music you love. Besides, nothing impresses the ladies like a trunk full of bass that puts out enough dBs to drown out a 777 on take off.
The truth is that no one wants to hear you blast "Gasolina" over and over again. Ladies are never turned on by a trunk full of bass -- especially in a vehicle where the install is so crappy that it makes the car sound like it’s rattling itself apart. An overly loud sound system makes you look desperate for attention, as if you’re the type of guy who wears fuzzy hats and bedazzled jeans and throws “negs” at “two sets” in hopes of finally finding a woman drunk (and desperate) enough to talk with you for more than a minute.
No one is faulting you on wanting to hear a clear, rich reproduction of your favorite music. Just spend the time and effort on getting a system that makes the music sound good, and make sure it stays inside your car.

#2 - Not cleaning your car in the winter


Few things are as beautiful as a landscape powdered with several inches of freshly fallen snow. It’s nature’s way of making the world look safe, soft and huggable -- like a real version of a Thomas Kinkade winter landscape. Some drivers like to take this down-covered goodness with them wherever they go. Or maybe these drivers are just lazy, as too many of them seem to think it’s a good idea to drive around with their car still enveloped by a thick blanket of snow.
Never mind the fact that the extra weight and wind resistance that this rolling snow blanket adds to a car, the snow will sometimes fly off, and that’s exactly where our problem lies. The problem is, when this snow flies off a car, it’s got to go somewhere. And that somewhere is often our car, the faces of the models who frequent our office or the small child whose first magical experience of winter is ruined by your car’s flying frozen debris. Stop ruining winter for everyone -- take a minute and scrape that frozen stuff off your car.

#1 - Not using your turn signals

The blinkers on your car are for more than just providing cheap light shows for your raver friends -- they also let others know if and when you are intending to turn or change lanes. Not only that, but they let other cars know which direction your car may head, helping them avoid a collision with you. It sounds like magic, we know, but this stuff really works.
In all seriousness, we see countless near misses on the freeway as we commute to and from work, and the majority of them could be avoided had the driver(s) taken the extra tenth of a second to extend their left pointer finger and gently brush a wand. Try it some day, we promise you won't be disappointed.

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