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DC Driving

I heard something the other day that indicates DC has the worst drivers in the country. I’ve tried to find the report, but everything I see keeps saying Miami and Phoenix are one and two.

I’ve driven in Miami (granted only for a few days on vacation), and I spent a year living in Phoenix. I wouldn’t rank either of those two cities anywhere near DC. DC has, from my experience, the worst drivers on the planet.

In an effort to make DC a little bit better, I’d like to offer the following refresher course in a few things you may have lost since completing driver’s ed.

Yield Signs – Those big, upside down triangle signs you see near on- and off-ramps and fork intersections are called Yield signs. Despite popular opinion, they do not mean that everyone else on the road has to yield to your giant ego or belief that your time is critical to everyone.

They actually indicate that you are supposed to yield the right of way to the guy that doesn’t have a sign. Next time you’re coming down an on-ramp, and see a one of those, it means that you are supposed to wait until its safe to get on the freeway. Since you are probably going 35, and the guy coming off the freeway is probably going 65 or 70, it’s easier for you to avoid him than vice-versa. Trust me.

Turn Signals – believe it or not, that unusual clicking sound you hear when you flick the lever on your steering column is supposed to happen. It’s called a turn signal. For those who don’t use them, you really should. For those who try, here’s how they work.

A turn signal indicates to your fellow motorists your intention to change lanes or turn when it is safe to do so. They do not, as some of you seem to believe, constitute an obligation on my part to jam on my brakes so you can immediately take possession of the space I currently occupy. In fact, they are not an indication that I need to do anything at all, other than taking note of your intention. Simply turning it on does not give you license to jam your car into a space I wouldn’t push my son’s Big Wheel through.

Brakes – With some exceptions, they generally work. They do not require random stomping to test them out. If you are approaching an intersection and believe you are in danger of colliding with an object in the intersection, feel free to use them. However, if you are approaching an intersection, and traffic flowing the other way is stooped, you may proceed forward without jamming your brake pedal to the floor.

That squealing sound (and the low rumble of cursing) you hear when you do go off on them is your fellow motorists desperately trying to avoid slamming into the back of your car. A simple rule to follow? Jamming on your brakes is less likely to avoid an accident in front of you, and more likely to cause one in your backseat.

Hopefully these little tips will help people avoid crashing into me. They seem genetically predisposed to try, so maybe a little a training will help.

Written by Michael Turk