Driver education is pretty woeful in this country, so Jalopnik readers put together a list of ten things every driver needs to know. Are you familiar with them all?
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We're going to focus on highway driving. The short, disinterested course you took before you got a license should have taught you who has right of way at four-way-intersections and all of that, but probably gave you little advice on how to manage traffic in the two-ton death machine you call a car at highway speeds.
Before we jump into the list, let's remember this wise quote from racecar driver Sterling Marlin.
I feel safe when I'm on the racetrack, I really do. I know that I'm surrounded by the best drivers in the world. That's something you can't say when you're driving down the interstate.
These ten things should keep you faster and safer, but they don't tell the whole story of how to drive. We didn't even touch on the basics of maintenance, and we barely mention driving in emergency situations. We mostly want you to handle commuting and traffic better, because that's how we find the most drama behind the wheel.
So what other tips did we leave off this short list? Let us know in Kinja below.
Photo Credit: Sparktography
It's for passing, not for cruising at or juuuust above the speed limit.
Merging is difficult for most people, apparently. Remember that you're part of a whole traffic flow, not just a single car against many others. Reader Grrrowler has a few simple rules for merging.
1. It's impossible to merge when going significantly faster or significantly slower than the traffic you're merging with. Slowing down to 20 when traffic is doing 65 does make the merge safer. In fact, it has quite the opposite effect.
2. Two vehicles cannot occupy the same space on the road at the same time. If there's a car next to you, you can't merge there. You need to slow down or speed up. It's not incumbent on the traffic in the travel lanes to make room for you (although it can be the polite thing to do).
3. A turn signal is an indicator of your wish to move to another lane, a request if you will. It is not a divine right to simply move into the next lane regardless of how it will affect other drivers. If you're not sure what turn signals are or how to use them, then we have a whole other problem.
4. Once you're on the freeway, speed the hell up to move with existing traffic! Just because you were doing 45 on the entrance ramp doesn't mean you should do 45 on the freeway. If you want to travel at surface street speeds, then stay on the surface streets.
Just because your 4wd SUV/Audi/Subaru accelerates really well in the snow, doesn't mean it can slow down any faster than anyone else. If you drive like a jackass in the winter, your four wheel drive won't save you.
Suggested By: McMike, Photo Credit: Getty Images
Reader Joe_Limon excellently explains that the places where people regularly accelerate or brake get worn down and extra slick in icy conditions. This means that when you approach an intersection, it will be extra slippery. When you approach a blind spot on the highway, it will be extra slippery. When you're driving on a gravel road, it will be extra slippery before and after intersections or turns. Read the whole thing here.
You're signalling. Great. That's a big step up from not signalling at all before you turn. Now you just have to remember to CHECK YOUR GODDAMN BLIND SPOTS before you cut into the next lane.
That language is always a little unclear, so we'll just say that if you're in an emergency situation in a basic front-drive whatevercar, you want to point the wheel in the direction you want to go. It's that simple. How do you point the way you want to go? You look in the direction that you want to go instead of looking at what you want to avoid. Look to your way out, not the car/bus/tree/wall you're trying to avoid.
This one is simple: tailgating is dangerous. If a car ahead of you has to slow down, you can't magically slow right down with them. You need a few car lengths to make up for your inevitable reaction time.
Reader Patrick Frawley explains this one best.
Keep looking ahead as far as possible. Pay attention to what's really coming up instead of what's just in front of you. If you can react earlier, it's better both for you and everyone behind you.
Texting, drinking, reading, eating, or screwing: don't do them behind the wheel. They all involve taking your eyes and your attention away from what's in front of you. Like the crash you're about to have.
Want to drive safe? Just remember that everyone else on the roads is incompetent, distracted, and they might as well be out to smash your car into a wall. It's up to you to stay out of an accident.