Recently, S.E. wrote a great article about how annoying tourist traffic is. Considering I live in Tourist Town USA, aka Orlando, Fla., I can relate deeply. In fact, Florida claimed three of the 25 spots on Forbes’ “Cities with the Worst Drivers 2012” list. Shockingly, Orlando didn’t make the cut, but I think it was only because we reached our limit, and the list maker(s) felt bad blaming thousands of people who visit every summer and have no earthly idea where they’re going or how to drive in daily torrential rain.
As a resident of Mickey Mouse’s home for the past 10 years, I think I’ve gotten a leg up on the whole road-rules thing to the point that when I visit most places, it’s a piece of cake. Here are some rules I’ve learned about how to be a good road user -- many of which I myself have been guilty of breaking (which is my way of saying DISCLAIMER: I’m not perfect):
1. Use your turn signal.
This is probably the biggest offense I see, and it drives me up the wall. It is not that hard to flip on your blinker to let people behind you know what’s up, so when you slow down I’m not like IS THERE A POLICE CAR COMING? WAIT, WOULDN’T I HEAR A SIREN? AM I LOSING MY HEARING OH GOD!?!?
I get that sometimes turn signals can be broken, but did we learn nothing from driver’s ed? Stick your arm out the window, kids. And if your windows are stuck, then you need to get your car serviced, because ain’t nobody got time for a broken blinker and stuck windows.
2. Don't cockblock the first person behind a bus.
Whenever I’m unlucky enough to be the first person in line to get stuck behind a stopped bus, no one gives a shit. They just go right around me, like it’s my dream in life to sit there and have bus exhaust pumped over my car.
If the first person behind a stopped bus shows signs of wanting to get the hell out of there, please wait your turn. It will tack five whole seconds onto your commute. The work e-mails can wait.
3. Don't play chicken with people trying to merge.
On our dreaded main highway, I-4, this is like a game -- especially during rush hour. I don’t know what it is, but it seems to give people great pleasure to slow down or speed up just enough to force me to make a heart-palpitation-infused decision while merging onto the highway.
DUDES. It’s not a contest. In fact, if you’re doing this, you automatically lose even if it is a contest, because the game is merging onto a highway. Doesn’t that sound stupid when you say it out loud? Playing this “game” is like being one of the people who have those fake testicles hanging from the lower metal part thingy (car terminology 1, Jen 0) on the back of their trucks. Also, if I may be so bold to ask, WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS TRUCKS?
4. Get off your damn phone.
I get checking a text at a red light, but Orlandoians are especially guilty of expecting the person next to them at a light to alert them with their movements whenever the light turns green. But if you have two people with their brains in iPhone land, that doesn’t work. Check your text, type a quick response, and move on. And for the love of God, leave the phone alone when the car is in motion.
5. One car = one parking space.
I did not go looking for the following picture. I literally got out of my car at work, thought “I need to find an incorrectly parked car for this article”, and BAM, there it was.
A parking space is like gold when I’m running late for work, man. Consider it before you choose a wine cooler over milk to pour over your Cheerios that morning.
6. It's a parking garage, not the Daytona 500.
If the speed limit is 5 in a parking garage, please do not try and whip around the corners at 37. You look like a douche. This is akin to putting a pink wicker basket on a Harley or, again, the testicles on the truck we know you’re using to compensate for something. No one cares.
8. Little cars are still cars.
I drive a Beetle, and I love it. I can squeeze into smaller places easily and it feels so zippy and nice compared to other cars I’ve owned. Granted, those have been a 1989 Ford Taurus and a 2001 Kia Sephia, so it’s not like I have a lot to compare it to.
However, people treat Beetles like the redheaded stepchildren of the road. I can’t even recall the number of times people have come over into my lane and almost hit me without even realizing I’m there. I won’t even drive in a lane next to a semi-truck anymore. MIRRORS, FOLKS. Use them.
9. If you’re a cyclist, decide if you’re a vehicle. If you are, great! Follow the rules of the road like everyone else. If you aren’t, get off of it.
I think people who ride their bikes to work or wherever they’re going are awesome. It’s a great way to care for the environment, and it also means there are fewer people driving on the highways and fueling my passive-aggressive-yet-intense-in-my-head road rage.
But at some point, “people who ride bikes” and “cyclists” became different to me. Once, I got PISSED that some dudes in front of me were going like .5 miles per hour when my friend gently informed me that I should share the road with bicycles because they’re vehicles, too. Fine. I was the one being a dick.
But on the same day, another guy on a bike cut me off at a busy intersection. And now I see this kind of thing All. The. Time: cyclists who want to be treated like cars, but only when it’s convenient for them. And that pisses me off. It’s not all of them and I’m sure not most of them, but I can’t help seething a little when I see a group of cyclists, even though I’m sure they’re all very nice rules-of-the-road followers. But the few assholes have ruined it for me, and now this plays over and over again in my head. Don’t be that cyclist douche.
10. Just because you're a pedestrian doesn't mean cars magically stop when you decide to wander into the road.
Literally this morning, some dude in a suit walked right in front of my car when I was driving downtown and gave me the “WTF man!?” hand wave. You know the one –- where he squints his one eye at you like you’re the asshole and waves his hand ever so mildly so you know he isn’t the one who has lost control here.
But no. There was no crosswalk, no red light or stop sign for me, no nothing. You are not made of steel, random guy in a suit. You are not Clark Kent by day, and I will hit you.
In a nutshell, treat other road users how you’d want to be treated. The golden rule always applies to every aspect of life, and this one is no exception.
Even though we all have bad days.