Friday, May 21, 2010

If you drive, follow traffic laws...please.

I'm sure that everywhere you may go in the United States, you'll find lots of people who don't follow the traffic laws that exist when they drive. But here in Springfield, MO I'm shocked that I see either an accident or near accident every day. And it is impossible to not see nearly constant traffic violations. I've driven in numbers of cities from Minneapolis, MN, Des Moines, IA, Vancouver, BC, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, and Detroit, MI...and none of them are as problematic as Missouri in general.

So, this is a list of things that drivers should be aware of to help with the driving problem...not just here...but anywhere.

  1. Understand right-of-way or priority at a stop-sign.  In the case of a stop-sign typically you give priority to the first person stopping at the intersection.  If two vehicles stop at the same time, yourself and a vehicle to your right...the person to your right has priority.  If two stop at the same time, yourself and a vehicle to your left...then you have priority.

  2. Come to a complete stop at a stop-sign.  No rolling stops...or just slowing down.  Stop signs mean that you need to come to a complete stop regardless of other traffic or pedestrians at the intersection.  Coming to a complete stop also helps with understanding who has priority at the intersection.

  3. Yielding on merging lanes is important to the flow of traffic on main trafficways.  If you cannot merge into traffic, then you need to yield to it.  Never force someone to slow the flow of traffic to let you squeeze in.

  4. FOLLOW POSTED SPEED LIMITS.  That is a hugely important one...and not just for safely concerns, but also for the flow of traffic itself.  Most roads or trafficways will only accommodate so much traffic in the first place, and speeding almost always makes congested traffic worse.  This issue is the worst on roads with stop-lights every few blocks.  What happens is that a bunch of people speed in their vehicles to beat the next light and end up putting more cars in an area of road than it can accommodate effectively, so congestion occurs, which is what drivers (in their mind) were trying to avoid by speeding.  Speeding usually ends up being a counter-productive action...both in terms of safety to yourself and other drivers, but also for efficiently getting from location to location.

  5. Don't tailgate.  Follow the 3-second count rule between you and the vehicle in front of you.  Pick an object on the side of the a telephone pole or a sign.  As the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting (one-thousand one, one-thousand two, one-thousand three).  If you pass the object within that time, then you are too close.  Huge numbers of accidents are caused by people tailgating when the vehicle needs to stop suddenly and there isn't enough space to react to that and also stop.

  6. Stay in your own turning lane.  This might seem like an obvious rule, but nearly every day here I see people at intersections with designated lanes for turning turn into someone else's lane, causing the other lanes to have to brake suddenly to not run into the stay driver.

  7. If there is a single turning lane turning onto a road with multiple lanes, turn into the nearest lane.

  8. USE TURN SIGNALS.  Another neglected, but very important communication tool in your vehicle.  This is important to tell other drivers where the heck you are going.

  9. The turning lane on a street is NOT a merging lane.  If you cannot turn into a traffic lane on a street, it is NOT acceptable to turn left into the turning lane and accelerate to merge into traffic.  That is for people attempting to get out of traffic to turn off the street only.

  10. At stop-signs and stop-lights there is typically a thick white line painted on the road.  This is the place where the front of your car should be stopped at.  I've seen people stop one and two car-lengths from the stop-line.  Likewise this is important not to pass just because you are turning from the stop...and wander into the pedestrian cross-walks.

  11. When turning left at a green-light without an arrow, do NOT enter the intersection until you are able to safely make the turn.  If you are waiting for that opportunity, you are not to enter the intersection.

  12. The shoulder of a road is NOT a turning lane.  Don't use them as such.

  13. Employ patience.  If you can't drive 45 MPH on a road because the person ahead of you is only driving 40 MPH...that shouldn't be a big deal.  You will only lose perhaps a portion of minute in the city from that little annoyance.  Get over it and just be patient.  Same with highway there have been numerous times when the road is two-lane at 60 MPH where I'm passed, though it was very dangerous to do so....and I end up right behind them in the next town on that road.  So, they endangered people around them for no gain to even their drive (obvious endangerment is only a detriment to everyone else too).

Anyone else have driving tips or annoyances they would like to share, along with the appropriate response to those issues?

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