Yes, We Still Have To Share

Look Ahead!
Look Ahead!

Get Off The Road. Use The Sidewalk!  That is the voice of a driver I witnessed trying to edge a bicyclist off the road with his car.  Sadly, he did not read page 89 in the NYS Driver’s Manual and does not understand that even when we’ve outgrown the toddler stage, we must share the road if we are to arrive safely.

If we’ve  not been in their perilous position, we often under estimate the risk we drivers pose to those with whom we must share the road.  We must understand their needs if we are to share  the road safely.

If you were a bicyclist…you would not have the protection a car provides; you have only two tires and must swerve or suddenly change speed to avoid hazards, the right side of the road often contains hazards that will flatten your tire.  You are not as visible as a car.  The speed of a passing vehicle may cause you to lose control.  If you are hit by a car, your chance of serious injury is very real.

Understanding these risks can give the driver wisdom in how to reduce the risk to cyclists with whom we must share the road.  Slow down when approaching a cyclist, their life is no less valuable than yours.  What if you were on that bike?  Give them space.

Look into turns before moving into that direction, and check your blind spot on your right before making right turns.  Bicyclists are allowed to share the road with us and are also supposed to obey traffic devices.  Understand the meaning of hand signals, that is their means of communication.

Be smart.  Driving is never “all about me, baby.”  Let’s all enjoy the journey.  See you out there!

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Are You Reading Me?

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Can you tell what is ahead?

Please! I am not a decoration. Did you read and understand me?  I have given you an important clue about your journey ahead.  What will you do with that information?

We often “see” but do not always think about what we see. You may have guessed by now the road is not smooth ahead, but “crossing”? Did you recognize that means intersection?

What would happen if this intersection did not have bars and red lights? Would you have slowed to look carefully? Why do you suppose some vehicles, such as a school bus are required to stop before the tracks?

Now look closer…Are you really assessing the entire risk? How many tracks does this crossing have? What does that mean to you?

How many tracks do I have?
How many tracks do I have?

There are many crossings without bars and lights…and those mechanical devices may not be working correctly. So your brain must always be working.

No zippedy-do-dahing here…it is no contest between your little vehicle and that powerful train that may take a mile or longer to stop.

So your task…is to make it your mission to recognize and reduce the risk. Stay alive, keep your passengers safe, and remember we are sharing the roadways with all types of vehicles and people who also want to enjoy their journey.

Honk! Ho…nk! *!*!

The sound of that horn..accompanied by other angry expressions that follow, is enough to startle the novice driver and upset even the most mild mannered motorist.  It’s no fun when anger is directed at you, and it takes a powerful dose of self-control to resist retaliation.

But we must if we are to keep the situation from escalating into something that could cause serious injury or even death.  You never know what is going on in a fellow motorist’s life, so extend courtesy and grace whenever you can.

And if you are the one who is horn happy…look ahead carefully before you resort to that horn.  More often than not there is a reason for the hold up…a pedestrian in the walk way, a vehicle ahead that stalled out, a larger vehicle that needs more space.

And if you are the person who gets upset when the one ahead is not taking a right on red, the light will turn shortly.  You cannot see what the driver ahead may be waiting for..and it is not required to turn right on red.

If you are the honkee – the one being honked at – do not let anyone drive your car.  You do not have to feel pressured to move into a situation you feel is not safe.  Road Rager is not telling you it is safe, and they really don’t care about you.  “It’s all about me, baby,” for Mr. and Mrs. Road Rager.  So stay calm.  You are responsible for keeping your vehicle under control.  Remember we are all sharing the roads together.  We may as well enjoy the journey!

So Much To See…So Little Time.

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Are you seeing all of the regulatory signs?

The road has it’s own language. We have to interpret those signs, signals, and markings at a fast pace as we are moving down the roadway.

It is important we see and understand quickly. That red circle with the slash means Do Not!

The black and white signs tells you what to do. Read that one from the bottom to the top.

The white lines tell you where to stop.

If we want to be the Responsible Driver, we must study and understand the language of the road.

We Can Drive 5 or 10 Over The Limit, Right?

IMG_1294Limit. What does it mean? We don’t often pause to think about why there is a limit and what it should mean to the Responsible Driver.

Limit means boundary, do not exceed ..or in driving..no faster than.

Going even 1-10 miles beyond the limit can earn you a costly ticket and three points on your driving record.

The Risks associated with speeding are many. At faster speeds:
Your vehicle covers more distance before you make a decision to brake.
After you brake, your vehicle needs more space to slow to a stop.
You have less control of your vehicle.
You have to look farther ahead.
You have to see faster.
You have to think faster.
If you crash, you hit harder. (Double your speed, quadruple your impact)

Yield.

Where must you look? Remember YOU must YIELD to approaching traffic, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

When asked the meaning of a yield sign, most new drivers reply, “slow down.” One candidate for a license told the examiner it meant “everyone must yield to me,” as she drove right past that triangular sign in front of an approaching motorcyclist.

Of course, the sign is indicating you are approaching another of those dangerous places called an intersection. YOU must look ahead and find out where the approaching traffic is, then STOP IF NECESSARY to avoid a crash. If you can moderate your speed enough to avoid the crash, fine. But if you are approaching that intersection at the same time as other traffic, it is NOT “all about me, baby.”

I’ve seen many drivers zip right past those YIELD signs oblivious to any other traffic, which often must do the slowing in order to avoid a crash. Clearly the offending driver either did not see, or did not process the information on the sign correctly. Most certainly they did not assess and reduce the risk correctly, and that is our primary task if we are to become that RESPONSIBLE DRIVER.

So many times in life we need to have the grace to yield, even when others violate common courtesy. It can be irritating to us when others violate rules, but I’ll bet we’ve all done it without being aware. It’s a thankful thing when others extend grace to us, especially in those moments when we allow other things to weigh so heavily on our minds that WE are the oblivious offenders.
We all share the risk. Though we are busy traveling separate journeys, our paths often intersect and when that happens, what kind of driver will we be?
Enjoy your journey.

Don’t I have to stop BEFORE the stop sign??

Intersections are where most crashes occur.
Intersections are where most crashes occur.

Nope. Only if the stop sign is placed where you should stop. Sometimes those octagonal signs are placed in convenient places and their only job is to help regulate the intersection by giving the command to STOP.

YOUR job as a Responsible Driver is to understand where to stop and why. And the answer can be found on pp 37-38 in the NYS Drivers Manual.

A Responsible Driver must come to a complete stop. If you are just rolling through, you are probably in too much of a hurry to assess the risk correctly. The correct place to stop is at the white stop line, if there is one.

If there is no line, then you must stop before the crosswalk.. Which may, or may not be painted. Look for the sidewalk if you don’t see crosswalk lines and be certain to leave space for pedestrians in or approaching. Any pedestrians must be allowed to cross completely before proceeding through the intersection.

If you do not have a clear view of the intersecting street, and if they do not have stop signs, you must carefully creep up to where you have a view to make certain it is safe to proceed.

If the intersection is fully controlled, meaning everyone has a stop sign, then you simply take your turn to stop and yield to any vehicles who stopped at the intersection before you. You must always yield to pedestrians in or approaching however.

But, you ask, what if we stop at the same time?  The rule, then, is the driver on the left should yield to the driver on the right.

So WHERE do you stop for the STOP sign? Either before the white line, the crosswalk, or at the edge nearest the intersection that gives you a view of traffic, whichever comes first.

Make certain you come to a complete stop.  Zippedy-do-dah people who are always in a hurry often insist they stop when they really have just slowed down, hit the brake, then continued right through. Take a moment to breathe after you get out of motion and assess that intersection correctly.  If we rush through life without assessing situations, we may inadvertently make others pay the price for our inattentiveness.  What kind of driver will you be?  Enjoy your journey, and let others continue to enjoy theirs.