So Memorial Day is over. You had a great time with whomever, but let me guess—it was not so great on the highway, when about 100 million others joined you on the asphalt jungle. In just about six weeks, we’ll get to do it again for Independence Day, an apt name for any day on the roadways when the morons amongst us demonstrate just how independent they can be.
My email inbox recently gave me the “Bill of Non-Rights” with stuff like (“You do not have the right to a free house…,” etc.), and so, here’s my stab at a few “New Rules for Some Drivers.”
WE the people of the United States built vast ribbons of transportation variously called roads, highways, interstates, or turnpikes. Each of them is designed to move people and their vehicles from place to place efficiently, and accidents with injuries and death are low probabilities as long as each driver demonstrates a modicum of reason, safety, and courtesy while operating their vehicle. Toward that end, each state has devised a manual for operator survival. WE know everyone read it at least once. WE understand, however, that some have discarded these carefully written rules, instituting their own entitlement philosophy instead, simply because they are better than everyone else. For the special “some” of you, the rest of us would like to mention our decreasing tolerance for a few things—besides abusing drugs and alcohol—you may not do while driving:
You may not camp in the left lane, talk on your cell, or text, or engage in other intensely personal activities, slowing while doing so, even if your girlfriend is dumping you for being a self-centered piece of work. She is probably right. Unless you’re going faster than the rest of us (passing?), move over.
In construction zones, you may not pass all those who followed signage instruction to form one lane. Would you crash a bank line? A grocery line? Surprise—we have to get there, too. When a trucker moves to the empty lane, keeping pace with the turtle-like traffic, the rest of us do not honk or swear. Why? We’re glad they keep clowns like you from making the delay so much longer than it needs to be.
You are not entitled to treat the highway as your personal Dodgem ride at an amusement park. That means kissing the bumper in front of you at eighty miles per hour on I-Whatever puts you in the category of stupid, reckless, or crazy. Maybe all three? But remember: if you act like Putin, don’t expect everyone else to act like Obama with a fake red line. For the men who think highways are a high-definition video game, if after threatening everyone else’s very existence, you flip your car during one of these maneuvers, don’t expect cards or flowers.
You are not entitled to stand on your brakes for a turn you knew you were going to make, and then turn on your signal as you make the turn. The exercise you get in flicking the lever will be just as great if you do it as all states require: signal your turn well before you brake.
If your car has Bluetooth, you may not make left turns into heavy traffic while talking to the phone in your left ear, holding a cigarette, shushing your kids, and steering—scaring the living hell out of us. This is not brilliant multi-tasking, ladies (sorry, it’s nearly always you). Get connected!
Are there other “New Rules” I didn’t mention? Have I touched a nerve with the self-important practitioners of stress, injury, and death? I hope so. The rest of us want the next driving jaunt to be much more pleasant, with or without you.Warren is the author of the political thrillers, Turnover and TurnAround.