The Open Road

Driving hints and tips (last updated 2000-04-15)

Waldings, being travelling people, are very interested in driving and road safety. Here are some suggestions that we think would improve driving for everyone.

While I was away in Britain, Lane maintained this page. He also tacked up some of my letters on the side of my wagon. Lane now expresses his opinions at the bottom of this page. Lane also stumbled onto a site which lists a database of unsafe drivers.

In Britain, part of the Highway Code says:

125. Be considerate. Be careful of and considerate towards other road users. You should
I think this is good advice. Be considerate and stay calm. Even if you don't get there faster, you will get there safer and more relaxed.

Drive To Beat The Traffic Jam Part 2: Use the Merge Lane to Merge

Read Part 1.

A lot of people drive every day. A lot of people drive to and from work every day. Most of them drive during the "rush hour", that three hour period when everybody is trying to get to work, or trying to get home from work. And every day, there seem to be traffic jams and traffic slowdowns.

What can you do? By now, you know that once you're in the traffic, the best thing you can do is stay in your lane until the traffic jam clears. But what about as you're entering the highway? It seems that many people think the best thing to do is to get as far ahead as possible while they can, and then starting riding the traffic jam. They use the merge lane to pass as much traffic as possible, then cut in when they reach the end of the lane.

Unfortunately, all this does is make the traffic jam worse. When they run past and get to the end of the merge lane, they are not travelling at the speed of traffic, and, having run out of room, they have to stop and try to merge. As you recall from last time, when you change lanes, the traffic in both lanes has to slow to the speed of the slower lane. This means that a merger who has reached the end of the merge lane is forcing both the merge lane and the travelling lane to stop while he enters traffic.

A better approach is to understand how merging works, and use it to keep yourself, and all the traffic around you, moving through the merge. I talked in an earlier column about the courtesy point on a merge lane. To merge smoothly with the traffic you want to notice who is beside you as you pass the courtesy point, and try to merge behind them. When the traffic is light, you will have to speed up, and you will probably come in several car lengths back, but when the traffic is heavy and the merge lane is the only lane which seems to be moving, this means slowing to their speed, indicating your intentions, and then coming in smoothly behind them.

Since you have adjusted your speed to match theirs before the merge, you will not cause either lane to slow down. On mornings with fairly heavy traffic, I have used this technique and been able to merge at about 30 km/h and, when other drivers do the same, I can keep this speed past the end of the merge.

And once you get into the slow traffic, remember to keep calm and stay alert. If you drive carefully and avoid making the traffic jam worse, you will probably only lose a few minutes, and that's a lot better than what you lose if there's an accident.

Lane's Column - "I Wanna Be Just Like Him"

That must be what they're thinking. I mean, these people come to an accident, and what do they do? Do they think "Gee, this must be a dangerous section of road, I should drive carefully"? Do they think "Man, I'm stuck now, so I better get ready to be late"? Or do they think "Hey wow! An accident! That guy is sure lucky! I wonder if I can get in an accident too?" From my recent experience, I think a lot of them are trying for their own accident.

After all, we live in a fair society. What right does that guy have to be in an accident when I'm not? After all, he may be in pain, but at least he's not going to be stuck in traffic for a few weeks! Good grief guys! Are you so dumb that you can't figure it out? It was an accident. It affects everybody, so relax, calm down, and just accept that you're going to be late.

The last time I was on the highway with an accident, the traffic slowed down for quite some distance before the accident. Well gee! Isn't that what normally happens? But how does everybody react? Well, most of them sit in their cars and quietly fume about being late for whatever, a few probably practice their deep breathing exercises, but there are always a few who are so dumb that they can't see that everybody is being affected. They just figure that if it takes half an hour to get there, it should take half an hour to get there, and if the morons ahead can't get out of the way, then I'll either scare them out of the way, or run around them.

Come on guys! Driving on the shoulder? Getting in the way of the ambulance? Cutting other people off in hopes of gaining back a few seconds of your lost minutes? Are you crazy? Have you completely lost your minds? Can't you understand that everybody is being affected, and nobody likes this any more than you? Do you want to make people mad at you? Do you want to get into your own accident? (That worked for three people this time, they had their own little accidents ahead of the big one.)

Wake up! You can't make the accident go away by driving crazy! You can't make up the lost time by driving like an idiot! The best you can do by acting stupid is to get yourself, and somebody else, into another accident, right at a time when the emergency guys are already busy! So calm down, stay in your lane, and just accept that traffic has been trashed. We'll all get there faster and safer.

There! I feel better!

If you have any comments or suggestions about driving, please contact Stewart and ask him to contact me (Rhodes). I'll pick them up next time I'm in Esmerel, or Lane will send them to me.
- Read more about traffic and Rhodes' trip to Britain.
- Go to the back lane.
- Have some fun with sleight of number.
- Enjoy word games and fun with numbers.
- Return to the Walding front gate.

Page maintained by Stewart of Esmerel.