Driving For Dummies (Probably You)

April 6th, 2012

The fundamentals of good driving can be broken down into three main concepts. In order of importance:

1. Give yourself room.
Particularly, in front of your car. This allows you to come to a complete halt without turning something into a twisted pile of broken something.

Those of us who actually know how to drive, refer to this as “stopping distance”. For those of you who frequent Highway 14, might e interested to know this distance is significantly larger than 0.

The average stopping distance is between 300 & 400 feet* and that’s provided you are traveling the speed limit, which I know your not, because my car is less than a year old and my speedometer is pretty darn accurate.

The average length of a parking space is ~20 feet. If you can’t park a car between the front of your car and the car you are following, you are too close. In fact, I would go so far to say that you should be able to park a semi truck in the space, provided of course you were both holding still and not navigating several thousand pounds of metal and plastic along a narrow path made out of crushed rocks and tar.

I know you are all very eager to pass me, but I think we would both sleep better at night if I knew I wouldn’t have to dig out of the smoking wreckage of my trunk when I have to come to a sudden stop.

2. Be prepared to react to anything.
This goes right along with giving yourself space. There are a lot of idiots on the road, goodness knows your probably one of them.

Driving is about reacting. Reacting to other drivers, reacting to weather, reacting to obstacles. Some people are too old to be driving. Some are too young. Some don’t use turn signals. Some are named Rodger. Any of these people could be quite dangerous.

It’s important to remember that while your video game play reflexes are faster than a schizophrenic cheetah on a maglev train after draining a pot and a half of dark brewed coffee, Rodger’s reflexes are not that good. And so Rodger needs to keep more space around him. You best keep your distance from him as well.

AND ANOTHER THING: When you do finally pass me, because I have a spare tire and can safely only travel at ~50mph, give me some space before veering back into my lane! There’s nothing more rage inducing than having your windshield peppered with rocks because some moron decided to pass you and cut you off at the same time. The minute I’m allowed to arm my vehicle with stinger missiles, this won’t be a problem any longer.

3. Think about your passengers.
I know most of your drive alone, which is good, since it would be an utter pain to scrape your traveling companions off the passenger at every single roadside stop.

When I’m your passenger, I want you to be thinking about two things: the road, and me. I want you to think about my comfort, mentally, physically, & emotionally.

I don’t want to be clinging to my seat in horror because you enjoy hitting the break at the last possible second. I don’t want to be in a constant state panic because we are a split second away from being in the back seat of the car in front of us. I don’t need to be thrown about like a sack of potatoes because you enjoy careening around corners because you saw them do it in a movie once.

So there you go. The three basics of driving.

* Yeah, I know. Stopping distance is actually fairly complicated, but here are some helpful webpages: