Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Driving 101

Okay, this is the main reason that I have always wanted to start this blog.  I want to talk about the unwritten rules of the road.  The basic concepts that we all follow (or don't follow), consciously or unconsciously, every time we get on the road.  I'm talking about the myriad different circumstances that we face and, in a split second, make a decision about how to handle the situation and act.

For instance:

You are driving on a two lane stretch of freeway (an interstate for arguments sake).  The speed limit is 65 and you feel comfortable at 69.  (This will also be a good topic to cover later --- how fast over the posted speed limit is reasonable?  But we'll take this assumption for granted this time.)  There is very light traffic, so the next vehicle you see is a semi truck that you are approaching.  Again purely for speculations sake, let's say that he is travelling at exactly the speed limit of 65.  (no, I am not setting up a math word problem for you... I promise)

Shortly after you notice him, you also notice a car in your rear view that is slowly overtaking you.  Lets say they are going 74.  You and the truck in front of you are in the right lane, the approaching car is in the left lane.  (Expect more about the use of the words "fast lane" or "passing lane" in a future post as well)  As you watch the scene (very) slowly unfold, you realize that you will both be wanting to pass the truck at the same time.

You have your cruise control on.  (Obviously... how else would you be going a very steady 69?)  You obviously have a few choices.

1.  Speed up now, safely pass the truck and slow back down to your comfortable and (relatively) legal speed.
2. Maintain your current speed, but change lanes so that you can pass the truck without needing to slow down.
3. Slow down (turn off cruise control) let the other car pass the truck first and then resume your original speed in order to pass the truck.

What would you do?  Why?  If you were watching another driver (perhaps you are a passenger or the driver of the approaching car or the driver of the truck) in this situation, what would you expect him/her to do?  The answers to the last question will surely vary by region... please tell us what part of the country you are from if you answer that one!

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