Driving

Memorial Day Weekend Road Rules.

It’s the start of the Memorial Day weekend which is statistically one of the busiest driving periods of the year. It is also one of the deadliest, with the Fourth of July toping it out. I just spent 30 minutes on I-35 traveling across the Kansas City metro area, and I can attest that traffic is up. It looks like a large number of people decided to get their travel started early, and with it comes a big old load of stupid.

The chart below was found after doing a Google search for “Left Lane Decision Tree”. It is a simple straight forward way to determine if you should be driving in the left lane. If you don’t like bad language overt your eyes at the bottom and replace the blue phrase with “Please move to the right”. The Bottom line is this, tooling in the left lane is simply wrong. If you think you are safer, you probably aren’t. If the center lanes and right lane make you uncomfortable, maybe you should stay off the freeway and use surface streets.

The highway system was designed with a specific set of rules to make traffic flow safer, faster, and smoother. Being a left lane lolly gagger just goofs it up. Oh and while your at it, put your cell phone down and try doing something equally as rewarding as texting and driving. Have a conversation with the people in the car with you.

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Getting 30 Plus.

OK, I’ll admit it… I’m a lead foot. I like to drive fast, I have a fun car with a lot of pick up, and I tend to take advantage of it. It’s hard not to mash the gas pedal down and rack my way through all six gears getting the car up to speed. I like pushing it through winding roads, and I like snaking through busy traffic on the freeway leaving all the left-lane lollygaggers in my wake.

Lately though, as the price of gasoline has edged toward 4 bucks a gallon, (and inspired by Kristy’s Honda Insight 45 plus to the gallon) I have been trying to drive a little bit gentler.

The result of my new driving style has been an increase in fuel economy from about 24.5 mpg to 30 mpg. I know it’s not great, but it is better, and I’d probably get better than that if I drove the freeway to work. Red lights kill you and Kansas City’s lights are all out of sync. Hit one green light, you might hit another but don’t count on it. The best part is, that my gentle driving style during the week means more gas in my tank on Saturday and Sunday. All of this translates to a few hours of fun driving without feeling guilty. Yes that’s right I do not feel guilty about having fun driving my car just for the sake of driving it. And I don’t feel guilty about putting the top down and stomping on the gas.

Even after today’s run about town, I am still getting 30 mpg, and if I push it I might be able to get it close to MINI’s projected mpg of 35, although I know you never get what the EPA says you will. None the less I’m getting better mileage than I was and that is a good thing.

Kansas City Driver’s Suck!

A few months ago I had to renew my driver’s license. Like most states my renewal was set to 6 years so it had been awhile since I had taken the written exam and visited the licensing station.

The last time I was there I was struck by the fact that they had a test that didn’t involve actually being able to read. You could, if necessary take a test that was based on nothing more than pictures and symbols, and if you passed that test, you were given a license to operate a 2000 pound plus piece of machinery, no questions asked.

When I went in this time, I had the study booklet with the written test in the back. I went through it and took the open book test fully expecting to be graded before my license was renewed. Much to my surprise, the guy that gave me my eye test told me they no longer graded the test for license renewals, only for first time testers. This just blew me away.

I think Kansas City has some of the worst drivers in America. Serious idiots behind the wheel. People that don’t pay attention, don’t obey the traffic laws, don’t know where they are going, do all sorts of stupid crap while driving like, exit to the right from the far left lane of the freeway, never come to a complete stop at a stop sign, fail to maintain position in their traffic lane, mash the gas at a solid yellow and end up running the red light. The list could go on for forever but there simply isn’t enough room here to cover it all.

All of this comes to the surface tonight, because for the 4th time in less than 48 hours I have almost been side swiped by some jack ass that has no clue as to what they are doing. 4 times, 4 separate intersections. If this were an isolated weekend experience it would be one thing, but more and more this is a common occurrence.

On Christmas day, I called 911 and turned in a driver on I-35 South that was drunk, weaving, and tossing beer cans out of his passenger window as he barreled down the road at 80 plus miles per hour. This was a unique event, but at the end of the day, people behind the wheel in this city are a bunch of idiots for the most part. (Not all of us, but enough to make me hate driving in this city any more).

I don’t get the leave 2 full car lengths between you and the car in front of you when stopped at a red light. I don’t get the I’m doing you a favor and waving you to go, even though I have the right of way, I’m holding up traffic, and causing a dangerous situation. I don’t get the “I don’t know where I’m going lets cut across 4 lanes of traffic at the last second and make a turn. I don’t get the inability to drive in the snow anymore. I don’t get the complete lack of understanding for the laws and rules of the road and driving. Oh, wait a second, maybe I do.

Since our written exams are no longer graded, or checked on one side of the state line; and since we are not required to actually take a physical driving test once we get our license in this country, it makes a lot of sense now. We get lazy and forget. Some of us weren’t that good to begin with and this just compounds the issue. And some of us are lazy, weren’t that good, and figure we’ll never get in or cause an accident to begin with. Frankly I think it sucks.

I wish to hell that every 4 years, every person in this country not only had to take an eye exam, they had to take and pass the written test (not open book format), and they had to take and pass the real driving test. Behind the wheel with a traffic officer in the passenger’s seat  grading everything you do. Maybe, just maybe things on American roads would improve then.

10 New driving rules I learned in Johnson County Kansas today.

I’m sure these things happen everywhere, but after spending a couple of hours driving around Southern Johnson County today, I was filled up with the road rage and ready to unload. I had to renew my driver’s license a couple of months ago, and I found out you no longer have to even take the written exam to renew your license. Frankly after what I saw today, I think every driver in both Kansas and Missouri should have to take a full driving exam every 4 years. It might cut down on the stupid factor   that seems so prevalent on Kansas City roads these days.

  1. Turn signals are always optional.
  2. If at all possible execute left turns from the right lane, and right turns from the left lane.  (I’m pretty sure rule number 8 has something to do with this)
  3. If you crawl up a persons butt, they will go faster or get out of the way, if they don’t honk and give them the finger. Either way, tailgating is good. The closer the better.
  4. When the light turns green, count to five before stepping on the gas.
  5. You must have a cell phone glued to your head when you are behind the wheel.
  6. Weaving across the traffic lanes is OK. See rule 5.
  7. No matter how long you have lived here, use a GPS that is stuck to your windshield and obstructing part of  your view. In addition please fiddle with the GPS at all times.
  8. Always trust the route the GPS gives you, even if it is wrong.
  9. Traffic clusters are good. If at all possible, bunch up into large clusters and drive 10 miles an hour under the speed limit.
  10. At a stop light everyone must line up single file behind the first car there, no matter what lane it is in, unless the first car is in a turn lane. The objective is to form the longest line of cars at any given light.