I am a patient person.
At least that is what I keep telling myself in the car, every time I feel like driving my Trail Blazer off a bridge out of sheer frustration with what I’m seeing on the roads around me. In all honesty, I really do consider myself to be a pretty tolerant human being. It takes a lot to get me upset. I avoid all conflict like the plague and am, in general, very easygoing. But that’s when I’m NOT behind the wheel. When the seatbelt goes on, it’s a pure Jekyll and Hyde situation. Behind the wheel, you can’t say that I have a short fuse, because my fuse doesn’t exist at all. I nitpick and point out flaws like your most annoying in-law and the thoughts that run through my head, and sometimes escape my lips, sound like they should be straight out of an “NC-17” movie. Now, I’m not saying that I’m ready to bust out someone’s window at a stoplight and throw down with anyone, but I am amazed at how often I notice travelers doing dumb shit behind the wheel. I have something to say to all of you, dear readers, but before I make my statement let me lead with this: Tristan, Andrew and I are all deeply grateful for you taking any interest in The Check Engine Podcast , our blogs, or social media, or anything else. We can’t thank you enough. That being said, a lot of you out there are HORRIBLE drivers!
The reason I am so passionate about this subject comes down to 2 things: 1) My mom worked in a town hall/police department for over 20 years, and 2) Since I was old enough to walk, my summers have been spent almost exclusively at race tracks. Because of that history, I have seen and heard of countless situations where things have gone horribly wrong with, in, and involving cars. Remember, these are 2,500+ pound pieces of metal that are capable of very quick speeds and are literally only able to move because (except in electric vehicles) there are thousands of controlled explosions happening under the hood. If you are not careful, you’re toast. Simple as that. My friend Tristan recently blogged a blog about Driver’s Ed in America, and he couldn’t be more correct: it’s a joke. Sure, they teach you things like “stop at a stop sign” and “if the shift lever is stopped next to the letter ‘R’, you won’t go forward.” But they don’t teach applicable common sense situations, and they shouldn’t have to! That’s why they call it “common sense”, right? But maybe times have changed, because apparently none of these dipshits are capable of any of that common sense stuff. But in addition to being a nice guy, I am also a helpful guy. So let me go through a few situations to help you, possibly a dipshit, with your future travels.
Let’s start with what I like to call “lane discipline”, which is simply being aware of the lane you are in and the traffic around you, but which also, sadly, does not exist in any form in the state of Wisconsin. One thing they certainly do teach in Driver’s Ed is that the left lane is for passing and for cars that are moving faster. But this isn’t all about speed. If you don’t want to go over the speed limit, or even want to drive under the limit, fine. That is 100% your prerogative. But then get the FUCK out of the way when you do that! If you haven’t noticed, cars and trucks have been equipped with this cutting edge new technology called rear view mirrors. Heard of ‘em? No? WELL, if you look through them, you can actually see what’s behind you!! If you utilize these little pieces of black magic and notice a vehicle so close to your rear bumper that you can’t see the grill or headlights, odds are they are faster than you, and would like to get along with their day, if you don’t mind. If you are of the idea that “it’s their job to find a way around me,” you couldn’t be more wrong. Forcing the cars moving at a higher rate of speed to make extra lane changes and other maneuvers that they shouldn’t have to increases the level of danger for everyone. How do I know? Because science. Because probability. Look it up. But you shouldn’t have to look that up, because…you know, common sense. I repeat: You do not have to go as fast as anyone else on the road if you don’t want to, but please kindly move yourself into the right hand lane(s) so those who want to go faster can do so in peace. Oh, and when you change lanes, FOR THE LOVE OF JESUS, MARY, JOSEPH AND ALL THINGS HOLY USE YOUR GOD DAMN TURN SIGNALS!!!!!!! (Editor's note: Yeah! And If you're getting the high-beam flash from the person behind you, they are preparing to murder you. MOVE, SHITHEEL!)
Which brings me to my next point: turn signals. As much as municipalities try to control the road environment, a public road is a very unpredictable place. Between mechanical failures, lane closures, detours, accidents, or idiots who happen to be going the same direction as you, on the streets there are far more things beyond our control than we’d like to admit. The turn signal is God’s little way of bringing a tad more comfort to the situation. All they do is allow those around you to know what your intentions are. You see, if you just slam on your brakes or jump over to the next lane with no signal, we may think you are trying to avoid a hazard on the road that we can’t yet see. We may be startled and jump on our brakes harder than we needed to and if there’s a car behind us that isn’t prepared, the accordion effect starts to take place and…well…insurance companies get called. If you decide to change lanes and not tell anyone, there may be someone in the lane you are trying to get to that would’ve slowed down had they seen your signal. But with no signal, that person is going to keep driving as normal and you will either run into them or simply run them off the road. Extreme example? Yeah, possibly. But I wouldn’t bring it up had I not known it to happen. Please, be courteous and let us know what you’re up to while you’re driving. It’s that little lever off of the left side of your steering column. Easy to reach, easy to use. We thank you in advance.
After you’ve discovered the turn signal, you idiot, you can ecplore the opportunites they offer by using them as you travel down on-ramps entering the freeway. And as you merge into traffic, yielding to the freeway traffic which has the RIGHT-OF-WAY IN ALL SCENARIOS, PLEASE try to be at highway speed when you get to the end of the ramp. If you can’t (or don’t want to) get up to the posted speed limit, you deserve whatever happens to you. I’m sick and tired of numb nuts out there who think it’s okay to enter the interstate doing 40 miles per hour. YOU ARE WHY ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, YOU FLAMING PILE OF PURE DUMB-ASSERY! If you don’t want to drive at or near 70mph, take the back roads. There’s always more than one way to get to a place. By entering a highway going that much slower than the flow of traffic, one will force the others on the road to make quick reactive decisions, often without time to use the aforementioned turn signals. This person is essentially a moving chicane and poses an immediate threat to everyone else on the road. If you don’t see anything wrong with doing “whatever speed you feel like” on the end of an on-ramp (I’ve heard that phrase before), then you don’t deserve to be wasting the air that belongs to the rest of the smart human beings out there. Again, you don’t have to be comfortable doing 70mph. But if you aren't, then don’t use the freeways with the good and morally correct people that are comfortable at that speed. Just leave the freeways to us well-adjusted, intelligent folks to handle, and bend a wheel on a pothole while you're at it.
My last gripe involves traffic jams…and no, not the traffic jams themselves. There’s really no way to avoid those. There could be an accident or construction anywhere, so the idea of a traffic jam is nothing to get worked up over. My problem is with traffic jams that COULD BE AVOIDED, but aren’t because of people who may not be stupid, but are big enough assholes to think that their time is more important than the time of everyone else. You know who I’m talking about...BUT if somehow you don’t, next time you are approaching a lane closure, look over towards the orange barrels in the lane that’s about to be closing and you’re bound to see them: a German sedan with a driver that has a Bluetooth device lodged in their ear. Yeah, that dick bag. Them, sitting over there, waiting until the very last second, then making a dangerous maneuver to cut someone off to get in the only open space left in the last open lane. I hate this person more than anyone else alive today. Not because of the car they drive, I’m not jealous of that. But it’s because of the status that they “think” they have by driving the car that they do. “I paid more for my car, so therefore I’m more important.” Fuck yourself. Here’s the thing: before a lane closure, those responsible normally give ample warning. Left lane closed 2 miles. Left lane closed 1 mile. Left lane closed ½ mile. Left lane closed 1500ft. You get the idea. If someone makes an attempt to move over into the clear lane at ANY point in that time frame, I’d be happy to back off and let them in. But there are some people who just don’t bother. They want to wait until they are about to punt a barrel across the median before they even THINK to change lanes, and at that point I have no sympathy for you. Hit the barrel then, it’s your own fault. Try to jump over and side swipe my car. Also, your fault. You are either too stupid or too much of a douchebag to be on the road, and I have no patience for either…I’m sure there are some of you out there thinking “Errmagerrhd, what about the zipper merge?!?!?!” One of my co-hosts is probably thinking that right now as he reads this (it's Tristan), because he talks about it all the time. But here’s the thing about the zipper merge: it only works if EVERYONE buys in. And unfortunately, humans aren’t programmed like a computer or some robot on an assembly line to think “left, right, left, right, left, right” ad nauseam. We humans have free will, and the right to think for ourselves. So there will never be a time where everyone buys in to that theory, at least not as long as some dickhead in a BMW or Mercedes with “important business to tend to” shares the roads with the rest of us. My proposal is this: you normally have, at MINIMUM, over a mile to make your lane change. I’m not saying that everyone has to jump over as soon as they see the first orange diamond road sign, but a mile provides ample time and distance for everybody to find their gaps and move over smoothly. And to those of you who are already in the proper lane and see someone trying to move over before the construction barrel minefield arrives, be courteous and let them in. I can guarantee that everyone will get along with their day in a much smoother, timelier manner if we all just act a little more intelligently on the road.
I’m not going to sit here at my laptop and type this blog like I’m perfect behind the wheel. I’m not. I’ve had my fair share of speeding tickets. My Trail Blazer needed a new front bumper because I knocked it off in a parking lot. I was the one who told the story of racing a Mustang with my Tahoe through a residential area in our first episode. I have done my share of stupid stuff. But my time growing up around police officers and race tracks has taught me that moving vehicles can go from a nice amenity to a mobile death machine in an instant. I always make sure that I’m not impeding anyone in the fast lane, I always use my turn signals, I always make sure I’m at highway speed at the end of an on-ramp, and I always try to make my move early when there’s a pending lane closure. Let’s face it, everyone: As much as we take it for granted, public roads can be a very treacherous place. Just keeping these “common sense” ideas in mind will make the daily commute better and safer for everyone, the world over. Thanks for reading, thanks for listening to CEP…and if this offended you, you need to be a better driver. Period.