Thursday, October 20, 2011

Red light, green light or What not to do if you're driving behind me.


I'm usually a nice driver. I use my turn signal. I drive around the speed limit. If I see someone needing to change lanes I'll either let them over or get out of their way, whichever works best. I don't usually get that annoyed by inconsiderate or careless drivers.

I do have one big pet peeve (or fault, depending on which side you're on) when it comes to driving, and that is turning right on red. I will turn on red if I feel absolutely comfortable doing so, but I won't creep waaay forward (against the law at stoplights, btw) to see around obstacles or turn when I'd have to accelerate fast to catch up to traffic speed. I'd rather just wait. The light will turn green eventually, and I'd rather spend an extra thirty seconds at the light than get rear-ended or worse.

Not every other driver sees it that way though, and sometimes they get annoyed enough to honk if I spend more than ten seconds stopped at the corner. For the record, if you want me to turn on red, DO NOT HONK AT ME. First, it's distracting and second, I'll probably take that as my cue to quit looking for an opportunity to go and just sit and wait for the light to change. In fact, I'd say 95% of the time, that is the best way to ensure that we won't be moving until the light changes.

So, yesterday as Finn and I were headed to pick up Chris, I stopped at a red light about to turn onto the service road to get on the highway. The service road traffic was extra busy that day because of a wreck on the highway. Almost as soon as I stopped, the truck behind me started honking repeatedly at me to turn. I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see him gesturing wildly and did wonder for a second if he might actually get out of his truck to confront me. I looked back at traffic to see if I had a clear shot at turning (because he may have pissed me off, but I'm not crazy) and the next thing I know, the truck had backed up, pulled out and was racing around the corner in front of me. He was pulling a trailer with another pickup on it and must have come close to hitting someone else, because not only did he get honked at, another truck raced around the corner behind him, raging at the first guy. As soon as they cleared the intersection, the light changed and I was on my way, happily passing trailer guy up on the highway.

This whole incident took less than a minute. Could I have safely turned before the light turned green? Probably, but I was rear-ended less than a month ago, I'm driving a rental car, my son was in the car with me, I'm pregnant and I thought the traffic was a little hard to gauge from my vantage point so I wasn't taking any chances.

I would like to point out that sometimes it is easier for the second or third car back to get a clear view of oncoming traffic than the first car in line, especially if there's a large SUV up front in the next lane. Don't assume the person in front can see what you can. Also, the light will change, so you won't be sitting there all day. A few seconds of time isn't worth getting hit.

So, please, be patient with the other drivers on the road, and if you find yourself at a red light behind me, whatever you do, DON'T HONK.