Just to reiterate….
In addition to that previous post, perhaps some etiquette should be established. If you are the one backing up, and you see that someone is awfully close to driving past you, you wait. You do not have the goddamn right of way. This happened twice yesterday—people just backing up and pretending I don’t exist.
As the person backing out the space, you have to wait for the person about to drive behind you/person you’re about to hit to pass, unless they signal to you that they are going to wait for you. So just pull back into your spot if you’re a little too far out of the space or simply stop backing up if you haven’t moved very far.
It’s pretty simple: If you see another car approaching your vehicle as you are backing up, press on the breaks and stop. Wait until that vehicle has passed and then resume your reverse motion.
Studded snow tires
Studded snow tires, for those who live in warmer climates, are tires with little metal studs in the tread which provide plenty of extra traction in heavy snow and ice situations. These tires are handy for people who live in mountainous areas or other areas that receive significant snowfall and/or ice. Studded snow tires should be put on somewhere around the first heavy snowfall of the season and should be removed when the roads are generally cleared of snow.
Having snow tires on at the end of April in 80 degree weather is just fucking stupid, ruins the road, and decreases the life of your tire!!!!
A lot of people in my city of residence still have their studded tires on. This RUINS the road. You’re banging metal picks into asphalt at over 65 miles per hour…. what do you think that’s going to do to the road?! If someone hits you with a bunch of metal studs at 60 miles an hour, you’re probably not going to look or feel very good afterwards. Then our roads get worse and everyone complains, and then we have to go through construction and repaving. No one likes road construction. So take off your goddamn studded snow tires already. Jeez.
How to turn on the turn signal
Since it appears that a vast majority of drivers fail to use their turn signals, I figured I would take this time to help those drivers find the mechanism which turns the turn signal on and off.
The turn signal indicator stalk is always, and I mean ALWAYS, on the left side of the steering column, just behind the steering wheel. This even holds true in right-hand drive cars! If you have more than one stick protruding from your steering column, the one that turns on your signal often has the controls for the windshield wiper on it as well. Just in case you are having difficulty locating the lever in your car, refer to the following pictures:
How to use this excellent piece of engineering genius is very simple. If you wish to go to the right, you simply push the stick upwards. If you wish to go to the left, you simply push the stick downwards. If you are having a hard time remembering which is which, just think of this neat little trick: If you hold a finger out and turn the wheel to the right, your finger will hit the turn signal indicator from underneath, pushing it upwards. Likewise, if you hold a finger out and turn the wheel to the left, your finger will hit the turn signal indicator from above, pushing it downwards. You don’t even have to move it very far! You only need to push the stalk up maybe an inch (possibly 2 at the most), which isn’t much trouble at all.
Turning off your signal, which is just as important, is done by returning the stalk to its original position. Most cars automatically turn off the signal when you return the wheel to “straight” if you move the wheel far enough in the direction you have indicated you will turn. However, when changing lanes, the signal does not automatically turn off, so it is your responsibility to return the stalk to where it started.
Lastly, the turn signal indicator is not very far away from your hands if you drive with a “9 and 3” hand position. It is also not very far away in a “10 and 2” or an “8 and 4” hand position. And, really, it’s not very difficult to reach even if you’re one of those idiots that drives with your wrist at the 12:00 position. While the actual distance between the wheel and the far end of the turn signal indicator varies by make and model, it is usually within a finger’s length of the steering wheel (see below) so that you can keep your hand on the steering wheel at all times.
If you are still having problems figuring out how to turn on your signals, go out to your car and play around until you have figured it out. And once you know how to turn on your signals, APPLY THIS KNOWLEDGE IN REAL LIFE!
Make sure you look before backing up. Anywhere. Anytime.
So, yesterday I went to Einstein Bagels, looking to indulge in a delicious breakfast sandwich. I was behind this god awful Camry with chrome 22’s and super low profile tires. As we were moseying through the parking lot, the woman driving the Camry decided she wanted a parking space that happened to be behind her—where I was. So, the woman proceeded to back up. Quickly. I honked my horn. She did not brake. I slammed the horn, for about 5 to 6 seconds, and about 6” away from my car, she finally realized I was there and stopped. How one doesn’t stop immediately at the sound of a car horn so close him/her is beyond me. But the lesson learned from this is do not back up without looking behind you! Better yet, don’t back up in areas where this can cause an accident, e.g., at a stop light. If you’re too far out in the intersection, that’s just too damn bad.
This really should be common sense…
There should be a national mandate that the written driver’s test in every state must contain questions regarding vehicle maintenance. Vehicle maintenance questions should comprise 15-20% of the test questions. Part of road safety is driving a safe vehicle. If someone has no idea how to tell if they need to change their brake pads, he or she may have significantly decreased stopping power and therefore a much longer stopping distance. This is obviously a danger to all the other drivers on the road. If everyone had to know this kind of information in order to get their licenses, the dangers that unkempt cars cause could be greatly reduced (these dangers will be discussed in a future post).
The shoulder/bike lane is not a turn lane. You can actually be ticketed for driving in a bike lane and/or on the shoulder. Turn lanes are almost always signaled by a dashed line. This may be one of those “patience is a virtue” situations.
Doesn’t matter how much faster you are—everyone always catches up at the light.
I do apologize that it’s been practically a month since the last post. I’ll try and be better about that.
Anywho, today, parking is on the agenda. After witnessing this:
(at a Walmart, no less), witnessing the mass of people at my apartment complex that part just like this idiot, and witnessing a Bently at the airport completely destroy the front bumper parking like this, I’ve decided to try and educate people about how to park.
There is absolutely no reason to “bump the curb” with your front tires unless you have one of those huge trucks for men with little penises.
I’m assuming the “bump method” was invented to make sure that the vehicle one is driving is parked completely in the selected parking space. This appears to be an unnecessary measure taken by those who have no idea how large or small their car is.
Why this method doesn’t always work:
For parking, and everything in life really, you need to know your car. How long is your car? What is your car’s ground clearance? Does your car mean anything to you?
It is also necessary to evaluate your own skill set. Am I able to see and measure distance accurately? Am I able to place my car where I want it?
By answering these questions, you will be able to determine whether you can just park like a normal person. Parking space lengths vary by location, but this where the “can I see and measure distance accurately” comes into play. My car, at 11’ 11.9” long, happily fits in those compact parking spaces. Your hypothetical 2009 Yukon, with a length measuring 16’, does not get to use a compact parking space. Your car is, in no sense of the word, compact.
The part that makes me cringe when I see people using the bump method is that their front bumper is mangled by the curb—as seen in the picture above, where the front bumper is actually being bent up by the dirt bank. This ruins the bumper and can actually rip the bumper off after enough times parking like that. So, if you have any shred of compassion for your car or cannot afford to buy a new bumper, don’t park like that. Ground clearance is super important when deciding if you can even attempt to use the bump method. The hypothetical Yukon has a ground clearance of 9.1”. I have yet to see a 9” curb, so you are probably okay using the bump method with your giant-ass SUV. My MINI, however, does not have significant ground clearance and the bumper will not go over the curb at all. Let’s look at a more popular car—the terrible handling Toyota Camry. The 2012 LE version has a ground clearance of 6.1”. The average vertical curb in the US in 6”; therefore, there is very little room for error. Tires too low on pressure? scrrrraaaaape. Curb not measured properly and is a little too high? scrrrrraaaaaape. Car’s front is a little low? scrrrrraaaaaaape.
It’s much easier and safer to just know how big your car is, how big the space you’re pulling into is, and how far forward you need to pull in before your butt is out of the driving aisle. No need to go any further. This may require some practice. Pull into a space. Estimate how far you need to go, and then get out and see where you are. Or if you have a nice friend, you can practice parking in a space, and they can watch and signal you when you are in the space. Remember your bearings for the next time you park somewhere. A good spacial memory can’t hurt either.
Large trucks, go ahead and use the bump method. In fact, park over the curb. I’m tired of your giant hitches sticking out into the aisle and creating a hazard.
Or if you just don’t give a shit, go ahead and bump the curb with your new Nissan Altima (with a ground clearance of just 5.4”). I’ll just make fun of you and pass terrible judgement on you.
Why San Francisco (and pretty much any major city) sucks.
So, I was in San Francisco last week for a Car and Driver event, and I was painfully reminded how much city driving sucks. It’s the horrific combination of hundreds of thousands of cars attempting to travel on 4 lane roads, stop lights every 50 meters, and pedestrians out the wazoo. Not to mention tolls to enter and exit the city and the catastrophe that happens when you realize you need to make a left instead of a right and you have to attempt to get across 5 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic or risk getting lost.
And honestly, there isn’t a way to fix it. Yes, people using public transportation, walking, or walking to public transportation might help, but only minimally. Perhaps I’ll have another post on why public transportation doesn’t work. I digress.
- If you happen to find yourself in a big-city-driving situation, never ever ever be in a hurry. Make sure you leave LOTS of time to get where you’re going because there will most likely be a traffic jam, a crash, a long line at a toll, or some other disaster that will cause you to lose precious minutes of your life sitting in your car trying to find a decent radio station to listen to and moving at the blistering speed of 5 miles per hour.
- You should also know where the hell you’re going. Having a GPS system can only help so much. If it doesn’t direct you very well, then you’ll end up getting on some other freeway that you didn’t want to be on and you’ll end up lost and in a bad part of the city. If you have paper directions, include the maps. If you have a navigator with you, make sure that communication is clear so that everyone can keep their cool and not ruin the day by being pissed at each other.
- The native city driver is an aggressive one. Watch out for them.
- I would like to argue that health in cities is bad not from air pollution, but rather it is caused by the stress of driving in such a shitty environment.
Yet some people absolutely love cities, and that’s all fine and dandy for them. I am not a member of that cult, and I’m sure many others aren’t as well. And sadly, many of the city-haters must drive in a city at some point. Maybe there is a way to fix the horrible congestion on bridges in and out of cities. I think that solution is probably driving at 2 in the morning, but that’s not very practical. It’s just the nature of the beast. I think here’s another place where the “Keep Calm and Drive On” picture could go…..
So, this post doesn’t really have much to do with the act of driving. Cars are involved, but this is more so me complaining about pedestrian actions. Filing this complaint to the Board of Cheeses and Whine.
A. Pedestrians at crosswalks
- At least they’re using a crosswalk! 1 point for them. There are major problems with this system though:
- Peds often don’t make it clear that they are attempting to cross. This manifests in people that want to cross waiting a good three feet away from the curb, or people standing at the curb with no intention of crossing the road. They’re just watching cars go by apparently.
- Peds, for some reason, love to wear all black at night on roads with minimal streetlights. Look out for these crazy phantom wanna-bes. You cannot see them until they turn to look at you and are blinded by your high beams.
- Landscapers tend to place bushes next crosswalks. People may appear from behind said shrubbery when you are least expecting it.
- People ignore those “do not walk” signals all the time. So, even if you have a green light, if someone decide to saunter across the road right in front of you, you should slam on your breaks and potentially cause a five car pile up. Apparently hitting someone even though they are in theory running a red light and it should be their fault, it is still blamed on you.
- When approaching a crosswalk, slow down, but not to the point where you’re stopping or pissing off the person behind you. As you are approaching the crosswalk, look at both sides of the road, determine if any peds are coming, and if any are, ask if they are close enough that you have to stop. If you are bad with calculating such information, just stop if you see someone approaching.
B. Peds not at a crosswalk
- These people are either in a hurry, not aware that crosswalks exist, in a residential area, or stupid. The latter is indicated by walking, very slowly, across a busy 4+ lane road… in front of a heard of on-coming traffic… at night… wearing all black… in the rain… I digress.
- This is an illegal act called “jay walking”
- You still have to stop for these morons. Honking is acceptable if they are not running or at minimum walking at a brisk pace.
- You can also honk at them if you have had to slow down to a ridiculously slow speed or stop movement all together and they do not show some sign of gratitude.
- These people tend to appear out of mother fucking no where and have the ability to completely ruin your driving experience. They are also often times teenagers and/or crackheads.
C. Peds not on the road
- Try to stay off of sidewalks. Peds belong on the sidewalk—cars do not. While offroading, peds should know whether or not there will be motorized vehicles where they plan to be walking. If there are, they should be constantly listening for the exhaust notes of said motorized vehicles to make sure they are not about to be run over (I’m sure we’ve all seen those youtube videos). Motorists should make sure they’re not driving all crazy, preventing the peds from reacting in time. People are slow.