Unsafe Driving

Put the blame where it belongs.

(Originally published in the Vacaville (California) Reporter, May 3, 1998; observations not limited to date or state.)

Pity the poor California driver.

They say the vehicle operator can only be as effective as his or her equipment.  Judging by the average performance of a car on the California interstates, the equipment seems faulty indeed.

Consider the simple lane change.

As a new driver to the California landscape, I was appalled to find most vehicles seemingly unequipped with working turn-signal indicators, forcing drivers to trust the alertness of others as they darted from lane to lane.

Somehow, proximity of vehicles seems to increase the incidence of turn indicator failure, even further taxing those brave souls who must execute quick lane changes, probably because their cruise controls have become stuck at 80 miles per hour.

Steering controls are also woefully inadequate.  Certainly those cars, who wish to pass slower traffic, in an attempt to correctly pass on the left, are often being thrown into the right lane by steering wheels that work in the opposing direction.  These intrepid drivers are then forced to weave in and out of two lanes of sub-speed traffic, all in reverse steering mode.

At times, steering becomes stuck at an angle, forcing certain operators to cross several lanes without pausing before once again gaining control of their vehicle.  This is breathtaking to watch.

As if this were not enough, it seems that side- and rear-view mirrors, and even drivers’ field of vision, are woefully obstructed.  Why else would drivers fail to change lanes for merging traffic, or not see the vehicle claiming the same space they intend to occupy, or continue traveling at a sedate pace in the far left lane while the driver behind them has time to memorize four bumper stickers and their vanity plate?

I can think of no other reason.

It’s time for the automotive industry to take action.  Certainly it is to blame for the shenanigans on California roads.

No wonder road rage is a problem.  We actually blame the poor driver when each safe arrival to a destination is a triumph of the human spirit over clearly adverse equipment conditions.

3 thoughts on “Unsafe Driving

  1. It’s a chronic problem. Colorado cars don’t know how to stop for red lights or merge with other traffic. Apparently our cars don’t understand how to share the road with some common courtesy.

  2. The very best highway maneuver I have sadly experienced is what I came to call “The Texas Slide” as drivers did an almost straightline lane change from fast lane to exit in the blink of an eye. Periodically I see “The Texas Slide” performed locally and am forced to step on the gas to glimpse the car license. Always it is a Texas tag.

    • Sadly, each state/city seems to have its signature maneuver; maybe enlarging license plates (maybe even project them in holographic form above the roof) would help us to be safer, more defensive drivers.

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