Driving for more than four decades on roads throughout California, from rural back roads to L.A. freeways, I’ve come to appreciate how important these years of experience are to being safe. Intuitive driving, which translates to anticipating others’ mistakes and bad behavior, generally being defensive, absolutely prevents accidents — every day in all sorts of ways.
For example, here are some things you learn to watch out for:
- Distracted drivers don’t understand basic physics: Two cars cannot occupy the same space — be it a lane or parking space.
- Urban drivers consider stop signs to be merely suggestions.
- Particularly on L.A. freeways, never use your blinker; that just tips them off.
And here are additional general tips to improve road safety, though they may require the support of new laws:
- Become an offensive driver when it truly is the best defense. In the long run, it is much better for traffic flow not to enable selfish drivers who sprint down the merge lane to try to cut in front of traffic.
- Honk and give a wide berth to texters and otherwise distracted drivers, who display many of the same dangerous habits as drunk drivers. They tend to react poorly, overcompensate, and are alternately become unresponsive or aggressive, depending on their conversation. And they drive too slow, too fast, weave into traffic and gutters like fools under the influence — of technology.
- Obligate bicyclists to follow the rules of pedestrians, not vehicles. They can’t keep up with cars, as much as they pretend. And they endanger everyone by running stop signs, slicing through traffic and riding one-handed while flipping off drivers who are flipping them.
- Obligate motorcyclists, conversely, to follow the same rules as autos. Seriously, it is ridiculously unsafe for them to split traffic at twice the speed. Further, on behalf of all desperate organ donor wait-listers, let’s make helmets optional. The only criterion to opt-out is that riders must sign an organ donor (donorcyclist) card.
On a side note, experience also highlights random quirks of the road, such as:
- When you need to make a left turn out of a parking lot onto a busy street, be ready to go just as you pull up to the exit, this typically is your first best shot.
- You will make every light as soon as you need to grab something out of your reach from the glove box or back seat.
Note to young drivers: Pay attention to the advice and defensive actions of experienced drivers. It’s just counterintuitive and reckless not to.