Whenever I have to take a road trip of any kind, I am usually the copilot. I’m good at helping navigate, and I have enough road rage for an SUV full of people. My significant other just told me recently that she likes when I’m in the car with her because then she doesn’t have to get angry at other drivers, because I’m already angry on her behalf.
This past weekend, I went on a road trip that involved being in the car for 5 hours there and 5 hours back. As you can imagine, that is a lot of rage. And on the way back, I was driving. Funnily enough, when I’m driving, my rage is more subdued, expressed in snarky comments said at normal volume rather than with yelling and gesticulating (most the time, anyway, although I did roll my window down and give someone the finger at one point while I was driving. But I assure you they deserved it). But I get no joy out of driving because I am constantly worrying about the other drivers. The amount of crazy shit people do when we’re all going 65+ mph on a highway is absurd, I’m sure we all can agree, and enough to give anyone a conniption.
This weekend of driving led me to reach an important decision: If I were ever given an indestructible car for one day, I would use it to crash into people who don’t use their turn signals and people who don’t know how to yield.
Breaking news: Cars come with the turn signals built in. They serve a purpose. They make everyone’s lives easier and less stressful. They are not optional. If you are in the right lane on a highway, and you want to move to the left lane, use your damn turn signal so the people around you know what you’re going to do! This way it is less likely you will be in/cause an accident. CRAZY, I KNOW. I mean, when I’m driving, it doesn’t seem that cumbersome to push that little lever up or down in order to let people know “Hey, I’m turning here” or “Excuse me, I’d really like to get into that lane.” Yeah, you might look a little silly if you are accidentally driving with your blinker on after merging (although I also don’t find it that hard to remember that my blinker is on, but maybe that’s just me), but I find that far less enraging than having a car dart in front of my car without warning. Gee, I wonder why.
Speaking of darting cars, after people get their licenses, do they forget about safe following distance? I don’t think you need to be 5 miles behind the car in front of you, but tailgating isn’t cute, people. If I had that indestructible car, I would brake check every tailgating asshole. Tailgating is not necessary. I’m not going to speed so you can get to your destination 5 minutes earlier than if you went the speed limit,* so back off. And to you crazy non-signaling mergers, if there is a car-sized space between my car and the one in front of me, that is not a space for you. It is there because if there is a sudden stop, I don’t want to rear-end the car in front of me. So if you aren’t going to bother to signal when you take that safe distance away, don’t give me dirty looks when I give you the middle finger.
Moving on, can someone explain to me what is so hard about yielding? I never considered yield signs, or the concept of yielding to oncoming traffic, to be that difficult. If there is oncoming traffic and you have a yield sign, you have to slow and possibly stop until there is a space for you to merge. If there is no traffic, you can just keep going, and that is the only time they are “optional,” if you want to call it that. That’s how yield signs work, right? Or have I been mistaken my entire life? Because the last leg of my 5-hour journey was on a one-lane highway with on ramps that have yield signs because the on ramps are very short. And the number of people who just blew through the yield as my car was coming up, and then had the nerve to honk at me as if I had done something wrong, was unbelievable. Traffic on the highway has the right of way! LEARN TO YIELD BEFORE YOU CAUSE AN ACCIDENT. And this was at like 11 p.m., so there wasn’t even massive traffic. If they had just slowed down a smidge, there would be no reason for rage. But at least three cars blew their yield sign and then honked at me. What the hell? YOU HAVE THE YIELD. I wasn’t even driving at the time; I was just sitting shotgun. And boy, did I wish I really had a shotgun at that point. If you’re the one breaking traffic rules, don’t go honking at me. If I had my indestructible car, you would have been so sorry, assholes.
People always talk about how dangerous going too far over the speed limit is, but you know what else is dangerous? Going too far under the speed limit. When you are in the farthest right lane on any given highway, you should be doing at least the speed limit. I don’t believe that in the slow lane you have to be “keeping up with traffic.” I believe you should be doing the speed limit. It’s enraging to be in the slow lane, sometimes stuck there due to traffic, and have the person in front of you doing 60 in a 65, and not because of the traffic–just because they fucking feel like it. Look, the speed limit is what you should be doing. If you aren’t or can’t for some reason, put your goddamn hazard lights on so people can see you from a distance and pass you. I-95 in some parts of Connecticut, I think, even has a minimum and a maximum speed limit posted. I am a proponent of this, although the minimum is 40 and the max 65. Frankly, there shouldn’t be more than a 15-mph difference in those numbers, but I would rather have a posted minimum than none at all, because I’m sure some of you right now are thinking “But Anger Ball, the speed limit is the maximum you should do, not the speed you have to do!” Are you really going to try and tell me that if you’re stuck behind someone going under the speed limit for no observable reason, you don’t get pissed? Don’t even try it, because I won’t believe you. It pisses everyone off. It’s fine if someone doesn’t feel safe going 65, but then put the hazard lights on. Again, cars come with them for a reason! I don’t think it’s too much to ask to use something that comes standard on all cars.
The passing lane is another story. You need to keep with traffic when you are in the passing lane. You do not get into the passing lane to pass a car going 60 by doing 65. If all the cars in the passing lane are going 80, you have to go 80 at least until you can get back into the slow lane. The passing lane is there for passing. If you are in that lane and are pacing the slow traffic, you need to get back into the slow lane. I do not advocate speeding, but I do think that you need to keep with traffic in the fast lane. If you aren’t comfortable going 80 even for 10 seconds to get around one car, then it looks like you’re stuck behind Mr./Mrs./Ms. 60-in-a-65 for your whole trip, buddy, because otherwise you are now causing traffic by being that slow asshole in the fast lane.
I think it’s pretty clear now why, when given the choice, I like to be a copilot instead of the driver. I have too many pet peeves related to driving, and one of them usually comes up pretty quickly at the start of any road trip, so being behind the wheel of a car just isn’t good for my blood pressure.
But if I ever got that indestructible car, I would have a field day.
*Seriously, I took a class in college where we calculated how much time you actually save by speeding, and you have to go at least 20 miles over the speed limit to make any significant difference in arrival time.