Driving: Part 1

11 Jun

Why does no one know how to drive?  Out of the millions of people who get behind the wheel everyday, only about 10% actually know how to drive.  It is a mystery to me how this can be true.  Driving to and from Denver almost everyday I have intimate knowledge of the abilities of Colorado drivers and I am not impressed.  I don’t think I am asking for anything special here, just to obey the traffic rules that you agree to when you get your license.  Remember you took a test? It asked questions about turn signals, red lights and what the speed limit signs actually mean? Well in case you don’t remember consider this a public service announcement.  I am going to take it upon myself to educate those of you that don’t know how to drive on a few essentials, thank me later.

Ok so part 1 is going to be focused on merging. This is one of the biggest causes of traffic jams in the history of the world and yet is one of the easiest skills to master.  To aid in my instruction I will be providing pictures for all the visual learners out there.

In this first picture we have two distinct lanes of traffic.  The lane on the right is attempting to merge into the lane on the left, much like a on ramp onto a highway.  In this picture the Imperial Guard (In red on the white horse) is the first car in line and he is looking to get behind the astronaut on the white horse and in front of the Ninja and Stormtrooper combo in the car.  The first step in this process is to look to see if you actually have a gap that you may be able to fit your vehicle into.  Now this maneuver also requires the Ninja in the car to be an actual human being and realize that merging is a team effort and that letting one person in front of them isn’t going to make much difference.  The proper merge is where everyone in the left lane lets one car/horse in, alternating between the two lanes, much like a zipper so you have a nice and smooth transition.

In this picture what I mentioned above is happening.  The Ninja is letting the Imperial Guard and his horse in front of him, letting a gap open that allows the guard to merge into the left lane.  Well done.  Notice how the dude on the brown horse in the right lane is not jamming himself into the opening made for the Imperial Guard instead he is waiting his turn to merge behind the Ninja.

The last essential part of this interaction is the hand wave.  Especially in the real world where no one wants to acknowledge that anyone else exists on the road, when another driver does let you in give them a little wave of thanks.  It is like a secret sign between two people who actually know how to drive.  A sign of solidarity between you and others who know the rules.

So that’s it.  That’s the basics of merging.  Pretty easy eh? And yet it is rarely seen in the real world.  Just remember that merging is just the first step.  Once you are in the left lane you are expected to follow the same merging rules and let someone in if they need to get over.  I’ll leave you with a few no-nos in regards to merging.  Stay tuned for the next post where we will tackle another simple driving skill.

No-NO’s of Merging

1. If the on ramp goes on for a while you don’t need to stop right at the beginning of the lane to merge, instead drive down the lane for a ways and look for an opening.

2. Also don’t be the tool that speeds way up to get to where the merging lane ends and butt your way into the left lane.  Even if you have a huge truck that sounds really manly.  Honestly you aren’t fooling anyone.

3. Don’t act like you have blinders on.  Just because you don’t look at the drivers attempting to merge doesn’t mean they aren’t actually there.  They are, and you just need to follow the rules outlined above.

4. Don’t force yourself into a gap that isn’t there.  If the other guy/girl/storm trooper won’t let you in wait for an actual decent human being to come along to let you in.  Jamming yourself into a 1 ft opening is actually doing more damage than waiting.


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