Stop Driving Like an Idiot! 10 Mistakes Made Behind the Wheel

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Let’s be fair with one another for just a moment: While we may not like to admit it, all of us have those days where we have no business being behind the wheel. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, crappy driving happens to even the best of us, and just like bowling, golf, billiards, or underwater basket weaving, some days you’ve got it and other days you don’t.

It’s a funny feeling. Yelling out the window at some jackwagon who doesn’t know how to drive, and secretly harboring a trunk-load of shame because you were the recipient of similar heckling just a day prior.

Don’t be a hypocrite people. Driving attentively, carefully, and defensively can mean the difference between getting home and totaling your ride, and realizing that you aren’t the only one at risk here is the first step toward smarter driving. Millions of children and babies ride in cars every day in America, and rarely do dangerous drivers notice their presence until it is too late.

It has probably been quite some time since you took a driving test, and while re-reading your state’s driving laws may sound advisable, the thought of combing over a pamphlet that has the appeal of four day-old pastrami turns our stomach. So instead we decided to come up with our owning driving advice, and while some of this may already be common knowledge, it would be counter-intuitive to not include it all in one sitting. The only tip we left off the list was using one’s indicators/turn signals. Why, you might ask? We feel that at this point this heated topic is a complete lost cause, and since Americans are now beyond saving when it comes to proper signaling etiquette, we feel it best to focus on other areas of asshole-like driving.

1. On-Ramps Are for Accelerating

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When entering the interstate, or any significantly swifter artery of traffic, you are faced with a peculiar situation: While an on-ramp serves as a launch-pad for getting your car up to speed, at the bottom of many of them lies a little triangular sign that says “YIELD” on it. What should you do? You can either gun it, and hope for some wiggle-room on the interstate, or play it safe and wait for a break in traffic.

For some reason, even when there are miles of room to merge, people putter their way onto the interstate, thinking 35 miles per hour is a safe merging speed. Ramps are designed to be sweeping, elongated estuaries, where cars can have ample time to reach a safe cruising speed or stopping point, and not getting up to a respectable velocity is just as dangerous as deciding that you are going to start braking during the last 15 feet of the exit ramp. Drivers need to wake up and realize that they’re inadvertently causing unnecessary lane changes and endangering the drivers behind them on both the ramp and the faster moving road.

2. Light’s Out Equals Stop Sign Time

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Lightning strikes are dangerous as hell, and while this extreme force of nature may one day power the cars of tomorrow, today it just seems to knock out power everywhere it goes. This causes all sorts of traffic incidents, as stoplights suddenly become colorless, and drivers must hastily recall what driver’s ed taught them all those years ago. We’ll refresh you: A dead stoplight becomes a stop sign, so treat it as such.

But for some people these laws don’t apply to them whatsoever, because they’ve got places to be, and a four-way stop is entirely too time consuming, right? So breeze on by big guy, and we’ll be sure not to snicker when you plow into that semi two lights up. The same can be said for people who come to a complete stop at a yellow flashing light when there is no oncoming traffic. A flashing yellow means yield to any oncoming traffic, and if you don’t see any cars coming DON’T STOP or we will find you.

3. Left Lanes Are For Fast Cars

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

I wrote about this one a while back, praising the state police (yes, me of all people) for issuing tickets to slow drivers in the left lane. This may sound like a silly qualm, but it is common knowledge that the far left lane of a major roadway is designated for faster vehicles. It’s none of our business to judge someone for speeding. That’s their car, their license, and their life on the line, so leave them be and appreciate the fact that you aren’t the one getting ticketed.

But people don’t care, aimlessly meandering between lanes at leisure, bottle-necking traffic and causing everyone on the interstate to hate them. Drivers need to follow this one simple rule: If you aren’t passing someone, don’t use the left lane. Maybe with a bit of luck more states will adopt these “slow-poke enforcement practices” and funnel the extra earnings into better roadways for everyone.

4. Last Minute Decisions Often Equal Disaster

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Don’t you just love it when some jackass in front of you slams on their brakes for no apparent reason and then flips a U-turn in the intersection without a single turn signal indication or apology? It’s drivers like this who need to go back to driving school, because nothing says “stupid” quite like a last minute hasty decision while piloting a two-ton machine made of glass, gas, and metal.

The same goes for anyone who thinks it is a bright idea to change lanes while riding behind a semi, and end up plowing into a broken down car halfway off the shoulder. Hasty decisions are rarely a good idea if everything is already going smoothly. Take your time, plan ahead, and think about who else might be on the road.

5. Tailgating is Best Left for Football Season

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Behaviorally speaking, hugging someone else’s rear bumper is about as acceptable as flicking boogers at the substitute teacher. It’s undoubtedly a dick move, and while you may think you’re just having fun, the minute you get caught doing it things go sour pretty quick. Getting into accidents is never enjoyable, but some people have nothing better to do with their time, and stomping on the brakes to get a fat settlement out of you might be just the kind of excitement they live for. Seeing some massive truck rolling coal on your bumper certainly does conjure up some choice expletives, and many American feel that forcing a tailgater to crash into them sure sounds like a great way to get that crack in the rear bumper fixed for free.

6. Phone Calls and Car Crashes Love Each Other

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Even with the advent of hands-free Bluetooth connectivity, drivers still insist on picking-up their cell phones. While texting and driving may be even more dangerous, there is a certain level of narcissism associated with anyone who ignores their surroundings in favor of the phone. Many of us have kids in the car, and are not driving a massive SUV with a gargantuan brush-guard like you, so the phone call can wait because right now all of our lives are at stake.

7. Burnouts at Stoplights Reveal Your IQ

Source: YouTube/Goodwood Road & Racing

Source: YouTube/Goodwood Road & Racing

Ever been at a stoplight, minding your own business, and some hooplehead next to you starts revving his engine trying to lure you into an impromptu drag race? It doesn’t matter that he’s driving a 500-horsepower Mustang with a blower and racing slicks, and you are in a decrepit Buick Century with your drunk aunt and a carton of Parliament Lights, because when those lights turn green its go time baby! But first he’s gotta warm-up his tires…

Doing a full-blown burnout at a stoplight is about as impressive as eating a heaping glob of wasabi at a sushi restaurant and then chasing it with a flagon of saké to prove you are the alpha male at the table. While you may think this act of burning rubber is earning you cool points, everyone around you is laughing and discussing exactly how much Viagra you decided to lace your Lucky Charms with that morning. Plus, if you beat us off the line, which you undoubtedly will, it’s just a matter of moments before we catch up to you at the next stoplight.

8. Navigation Station Complications

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

This is one that all of us are guilty of and while the navi does need attention when driving somewhere for the first time, screwing up everyone else’s day by causing an accident is really rude. There’s a reason every time you turn on your car a warning screen comes up, telling the driver how responsible driving means not flipping through the navi in search of maid cafes in Little Tokyo while breezing down the interstate. Voice commands are here to help keep our eyes on the road, and if we do need to reassess a route, pulling over somewhere and giving the screen some undivided attention is far more fruitful.

9. Your Electronic Nannies Hate You

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

Just as we get done telling you about the dangers of using the navigation system while driving, along comes another more complex technological threat — as it is actually here to protect you. Blind spot warning systems, lane departure alerts, and automatic avoidance braking are amazing technological advancements in the realm of safety, and stand as testament to what is possible. But they can also cause some really shitty driving.

These are not Rinspeed’s self-driving cars, people. You still have to steer, watch out for oncoming traffic, and dodge potholes in modern automobiles, and relying too heavily on technology can cause some serious issues if you are lured into that false sense of security. No matter how well these systems work, letting your guard down behind the wheel is never a safe plan, regardless of how well these systems work.

 10. Cruise Control Brings Balance

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Our final tip of the day is one that can offer both increased fuel efficiency and a smoother ride, all while keeping fellow road warriors content as you maintain a consistent speed. Constantly hitting the throttle and brakes overworks your car and makes drivers around you nervous as hell, because they aren’t entirely sure what is going on as you buck forward and back along the interstate. Cruise control saves gas, keeps your car at a safe distance from those in front of it, and on many cars, keeps drivers from smacking the semi ahead of you when it comes to a sudden stop.

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