Monday, January 21, 2013

driver's ed

When I was about 16, I had this brilliant idea that I should probably become a licensed driver. That thought-gasm has paid off immensely, as I now operate a motor vehicle on essentially a daily basis. Sometimes even sober.

The funny thing about getting your driver's license is that the issuing body, the Department of Motor Vehicles, expects you to learn what the hell you're doing first. I know--crazy, right? The process for learning these skills is called driver's ed. And while I originally assumed all motorists had to take driver's ed to get their licenses, I'm starting to suspect that might not be the case in southern California. How else do you explain the complete and utter asshat-ery one observes on the roads of Los Angeles (Lindsay Lohan notwithstanding)?

So, in a public service announcement to my fellow Angelino motorists, here are some driver's ed lessons that you might have forgotten or just slept through.

1) merging onto the freeway
To merge means to combine or unite as one. That sort of unity is difficult to accomplish when you're barreling down the freeway at a whopping 20 mph. Protip: Begin accelerating to the speed limit as soon as you reach the on-ramp...not two miles down the road.

2) exiting the freeway
They say the shortest distance between two points is a line. But if one of those points is the exit-ramp and the other point is the carpool lane, you might want to consider making your way over in stages instead of cutting people off in one perilous fell swoop at the last possible second. You know, think about someone other than yourself for a change. Got it, Evel Knievel? 'Kthanksbye.

3) "the zipper"
In Kindergarten, we all learned the importance of taking turns. Or, at least, it was assumed we all learned that. Whenever two lanes of traffic become one, it seems like some drivers have difficulty with the concept. If you're in doubt, remember that the key is to alternate turns--not force your suburban assault vehicle in because it's bigger and will sustain less damage in a collision.

4) the four-way stop 
Equally important to taking turns is knowing turn order. If you were playing Monopoly, you wouldn't go ahead of the idiot who picked the thimble if it was his roll, would you? I mean, I know putting hotels on Baltic Avenue is the key to your master strategy there, Rockefeller, but Thimbelina is ahead of you, so it's just going to have to wait. Why motorists can't apply this fundamental to four-way stops boggles the mind. If someone stopped before you, they go before you. And if someone stopped after you, don't pull a "Heckle and Jeckle," impractically deferring when you clearly stopped 10 min. before they did, parked, and started planting crops. You'll just confuse people who actually know how to drive.

5) inching
Speaking of which, don't inch out. Ever. You'll freak the hell out of oncoming traffic, which, seeing as we haven't evolved to read minds yet, has no way of determining whether you plan to stop before your cars become entangled in a heap of twisted metal. If you think I'm going to assume you're a competent driver before I assume you're a shitty one, you obviously haven't gotten the gist of this blog entry. And if you inch out at a red light ahead of someone trying to make a right turn, they won't be able to see around your dumb ass to know if it's all clear.

These are just a few tips to avoid causing your fellow drivers to curse your name, give you the one finger salute, or burn your likeness in effigy. I'm hoping that Google's self driving car will one day make bad driving obsolete but, until then, stay safe out there and keep your eyes on the road, you maniac.

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