Yeah, you could ride transit or carpool or bike, but that’s not gonna happen, so here are easy things you can actually do.
All of these fit a theme. Which is: It’s not all about YOU out there. You are part of a collective. If everyone did these unselfish things, traffic would be much better:
1. Don’t tailgate. When you tailgate, you have to tap your brakes at the slightest speed change. You tap for a second, the guy behind you taps for two, the guy behind him for four, and so forth. Ripple effect that equals slowdown.
2. Use onramps correctly. ACCELERATE! Get up to a speed that matches overall traffic, then merge seamlessly. Too many people here merge into 60 mph traffic at 40 mph. People hit their brakes, and again you get a ripple effect.
3. Honor the left lane. Move over when not overtaking cars. Yes, we’ve talked this one to death. Just do it.
4. Pick a lane and try to stick with it. Incessant lane changes for little real gain can cause slowdowns for much the same reason as the onramp example above. Think ahead: Will the lane you’re in peter out soon, or turn into an exit-only lane? Get yourself in one that will see you through to your destination.
5. At stoplights, pay attention. If you’re first in line waiting at a light, be sure you’re pulled up far enough, as someone here already noted. Then PAY ATTENTION! Watch the light. When it changes, go! Driving is war, and you’ve got the point — so stay alert! That goes for everyone in the back of the line too, but we have way too many people at the front who use stoplight time to apply makeup, read the paper, change the radio station or eat french fries off their car’s floor.
6. Step on it. If traffic’s going 60 in your lane, why aren’t you keeping up with the guy ahead of you? Why do you feel the need to go 57? Again, you’re part of a collective out there. Join in, please.
7. Don’t go so fast you get pulled over. Because every time someone gets pulled over, it gums up traffic for the rest of us. People rubberneck and irrationally brake (like the trooper’s gonna drop you to go after them), and the aforementioned ripple effect ensues. So drive briskly, but don’t risk a ticket. If you’re going over 70 in a 60 mph zone, you’re risking it.
8. Look way down the road. I get on I-5 northbound everyday from Fairview at Mercer. Two lanes from Fairview are onramp only. Invariably someone is sitting in the middle, onramp-only lane who wants to go straight. And he just sits there, and people are stuck behind him. It happens at every signal, because the mope didn’t READ THE SIGNS. Look ahead. Look far ahead. Look way past that big hurkin’ SUV you’re behind, if you can. The sooner you see signs and the sooner you see trouble, the sooner you can avoid messing up in a way that affects the rest of us.
9. Live the golden rule. Let people in. Wave when someone lets you in. I wish I had a buck for every time I’ve signaled to enter a gap in a lane, and the car that’s far back in that lane guns it to try to keep me from moving over. No wait, I don’t wish I had a buck, I wish I had his head on a pike. But you’ve gotta check that impulse too. Do unto others … you know.
10. Devote yourself to the task. This is covered in many of the points above, but driving is not simply something you do to pass the time while listening to the radio. Driving is the all-consuming task at hand.
So DO it — briskly, efficiently and competently. So that we can all get out of each other’s way.