Friday, January 2, 2009

Was It You?

Was that you this morning, with your wipers on super sonic speed and driving 45 MPH in the far left because it was raining? If so, there were about 20 of you. Okay, I get that you want to drive a little more safely when it's wet out. I respect that. But please, don't do it in the far left lane, you're just forcing the morons who don't want to slow down to weave in and out of the rest of us, which creates a much bigger safety concern than you just driving the speed limit.

So please, if you're going to drive slow, don't be a road boulder (a term coined by Mrs. Roadshow, wife to Mr. Roadshow at the San Jose Mercury News). Move over so the idiots can pass without killing the rest of us. Because if the idiot can't see the sense in slowing down, I'm pretty sure that driver is also not the person you want doing word problems when your life is on the line. Because your brain is basically doing word problems every time you get behind the wheel, you know.

Car X is driving 85 MPH in the rain with gusty winds. Car X is 200 yards away from and approaching Car Y, which is traveling at 45 MPH in the same direction. When is the last possible second Car X can swerve into the next lane of traffic without colliding with Car Y or Car Z, which is 100 yards away traveling at 65 MPH in the same direction in said next lane?

Okay, now add Cars A through W to the equation, because they're also on the highway traveling at varying speeds and distances, and don't forget to factor in the potholes and any ongoing CalTrans construction projects. Yeah, that's what I thought. So please, move over.

Was that you this morning driving in the rain with your lights off? If so, there were about 200 of you. "But I can see fine," you say. Well this isn't about you, it's about the rest of us who can't see you through the road spray without your lights on. You should be turning your lights on in any inclement weather. It's in the California Vehicle Code (Section 24400 (a)(2)), and just about every other state's vehicle code too, I'd wager. And folks, just so you know, the vehicle code is a set of laws.

Well, because we here in California apparently require a Nanny State to tell us to breathe, we needed the state legislature to define "inclement weather". As of 2007, Section 24400 (b)(2) goes on to define inclement weather as "A condition requiring the windshield wipers to be in continuous use due to rain, mist, snow, fog, or other precipitation or atmospheric moisture." It should be pretty clear now. You're off the hook if you're smearing bird poo around with your wipers, but if they're on for pretty much any other reason, your headlights need to be on too.

So, what's it going to take to get you to turn on your lights, people? Then again, if you still can't see the sense of turning on your lights, I'm not so sure I want you doing those word problems either. Please, if it's still raining on Monday, leave the car at home and just take BART. Please.

For those folks who do turn their lights on in the rain (it's completely unscientific, but I would estimate that was about 60% of us on 880 around 10:00AM this morning), thank you. There's one caveat, though. When the weather is bad, you turn on your lights. But when the weather gets worse, this does not mean you turn your lights on brighter. I can see how this logic might make sense and apparently there's some confusion. That blue light on your dash? That means you have your high beams on. The only time you should be using these is when there is no one, no one, else around. M'kay? Cool.

For my part, this year I resolve to be more aware of my driving habits. I resolve to move the the right when not actually passing (i.e., to not be a Road Boulder), and I further resolve to use my turn signals when moving over, even if there's no one around. I also resolve to turn on my head lights in the rain. (Actually I just leave them on all the time anyhow, so that I don't forget to turn them on.) Please, won't you join me.

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