Many of us use the beginning of a new calendar year as a prompt to make resolutions that might improve our lives. Diet and exercise are perennial faves, but try to think of some that might improve your driving this year. I have a few of my own.
In 2015, I resolve to observe designated stop lines at intersections. After a friend received a red-light-camera-ticket in the mail, I realized that many drivers (like me) often make initial intersection stops past the officially designated line.
My friend, and red-light scofflaw, received his ticket after making a stop prior to taking a “free” fight turn upon a red-light indication at an intersection. The problem was that he made his stop according to lines of sight, not the painted stop line in front of the crosswalk. He stopped where he would not enter the cross street, at a place where he could check for an absence of cross traffic before making his right turn.
The enforcing camera pictured his vehicle across the stop line during the red-light, which equates to running the light, even though he subsequently stopped before turning right and entering the cross street. In the absence of a stop line, the required stop is at the crosswalk. If there is no painted stop line at a stop sign, the post of the stop sign itself designates the stop spot.
Now, as I am taking dedicated notice of stop lines, I have realized that my stopping position had sometimes deteriorated toward sloppy (on top of, or past the line). Now, at red lights and stop signs, I make a complete stop at the line even though it may seem too early, THEN move my vehicle ahead and re-stop at a position that allows me to see traffic for a right turn.
Even if you think you are making all of your red-light stops legally (with front bumper behind the stop line), I would suggest taking a closer self-survey of your behavior. I think this is a VERY common driver shortcoming, and making improvements in this area will improve safety and stymie tickets.
Also, this year, I plan to pull over to let all tailgaters by. On two-lane state routes, I regularly pull to the shoulder to allow drivers who are following me unreasonably close easy passage by me. But too often, I bemoan those too-close-behinders who evidently wish to go 50-plus mph as we drive on 30-35 mph arterials around town.
Some drivers follow so closely that I can’t even see their headlights in the rearview mirror. Rather that verbally condemning these drivers, which is the sort of thing that can lead to road rage, I’ll simply pull over and let them pass just as I do on two-lane highways. That way, I’ll be able to see how fast they really want to go, and maybe even give a law officer a chance find that out.
Much discussion in this column of late has revolved around proper lane use. Turning into the wrong lane, driving in the left lane, and using two-way left turn lanes have all been lively topics. These are not areas where I personally need to resolve to improve, but there are plenty of drivers who should! During 2015, I resolve to continue to express the rules of the road affecting those driving situations, so that those who don’t know the rules might become informed, and to coerce those who know, but don’t comply, to improve.
Finally, I will not skip my “pre-drive” checks. Prior to driving, I like to walk around the vehicle to make a quick check for inflated tires, operable lights (at night), and presence of obstacles/animals around my vehicle.
Due to laziness and hurriedness, I’ve occasionally skipped those pre-checks of late. In 2015, I resolve to fully resume those walk-arounds, so that I don’t ruin a tire by taking off with a flat, or ruin the life of a caught-off-guard animal!
At the very least, resolve to afford some extra thought to your driving. We can all improve some, and the roads will be a safer for everyone in 2015 if we do!
Readers may contact Bill Love via email at email@example.com.