What if every driver had a sign affixed to the rear of their vehicle asking, “How am I driving?” Based on the driver mistakes discussed here and the countless peeves reported by readers, the toll-free number typically following that question would be very busy with complaints.
A common answer to that famous question would simply be, “Horribly!” More specific responses might be, “Following too close,” “Speeding,” or “Cut me off.” A detailed answer could be, “Without regard for traffic signs or required lane occupation.”
We’ve all seen these signs placed by corporations on the back of commercial vehicles that beg for reports on the good or bad driving of the drivers in their employ. I’m just guessing, but I suspect that the calls made usually involve negative experiences.
That’s expected, since negative events tend to get more notice than positive ones. As with various media, bad news gets greater attention than good news. Human interaction regularly generates more complaints than praise, though sometimes praise is due.
It may have been an anomaly, but last week was an especially good one for drivers in my vicinity. A mix of driver actions I witnessed reminded me that in spite of the clueless and careless, the vast majority of drivers are driving quite well.
Last week, there was not only a lack of wrong to see, there was a noticeable wave of right! First, during an airport run, as I approached the on-ramp to westbound I-90 near 4th and Walnut, I was prepared to creep up the ramp at 35-40 mph, prohibited from making a safe blend with freeway traffic. That’s because there was a vehicle ahead of me, and I don’t recall ever being able to achieve 60 mph there when following someone up the entrance chute.
But this day was different. Just as I was preparing to make an uncomfortable merge at a slow speed, the vehicle ahead of me “hit the gas” and exited the top of the ramp seamlessly into traffic at 60 mph. If only there were a toll-free number to report that astute driver to!
Later that day, as I drove on a residential street near my home, I experienced another mini-miracle. A minor peeve of mine is that many drivers don’t have a feel for the dimensions of their vehicles. This is evident when there are vehicles parked at both sides of a street, still leaving room for two facing vehicles to travel and pass one another in the space between, and an opposing vehicle moves to the curb behind the parked vehicles waiting for the oncoming vehicle to pass. This unnecessary yielding makes me feel uncomfortable and rushed as the “yieldee.”
Well, the mini-miracle for that day was when an oncoming vehicle continued in its lane between two rows of parked cars even though I was doing so too. That driver had a Suburban and I was in an Expedition, but we passed unceremoniously past one another within the ample space remaining on the roadway. I suppose it’s a small thing, but that driver knew where his vehicle would fit, and I was appreciative — no pulling over to make me rush, and no dirty looks because I didn’t pull to the curb and wait for him!
Finally, as I stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk at Lincoln Heights, I expected at least a few vehicles to speed by in the adjacent lane before one of them stopped. This situation always arouses anticipation that my stop may be the cause of a person being struck. Not this time, though! When I stopped in the right-hand lane, the very next vehicle approaching in the left lane stopped as well, allowing the pedestrian safe passage to at least the median (traffic travelling in the other direction was not as attentive).
It’s impossible, and ill-advised, to ignore the preponderance of sloppy driving on our roadways. In fact, good drivers must pay special attention to such error-ridden behavior in an attempt to safely accommodate it. Fortunately, many drivers are concentrating on the task-at-hand while driving and attempting to do it well. It’s nice when that shows.
Readers may contact Bill Love via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.