Thursday, March 11, 2010

How to drive – Lesson 1: Bad Left-Turn Makers

Welcome to the first of (possibly) as series on learning how to drive. This (these) lesson(s) will be designed to help the uneducated driver successfully maneuver their vehicle on the road without pissing off everyone else around them.

To start off, everyone has got some gripe about other drivers, but I want to bring to everyone’s attention one of my biggest: Bad Left-Turn Makers (BLTM from here on in). This may be you, and the worst part of that fact is, if it is, you probably don’t even know it! The situation comes from drivers who (for some god-knows reason) pull as far to the right in the left-turn lane while waiting for the intersection to clear or for the arrow to turn green.

What this does is cause a few different things to happen. First, if there are other cars waiting in the opposite turn lane (the one facing the Bad Left-Turn Maker) the BLTM will be less able to see oncoming traffic, which leads to a higher risk of an accident, and likely causes the BLTM to miss a few prime opportunities to make a turn when an opening appears. The first aspect just mentioned can be a very serious safety risk, while the other piece is just annoying. It also causes the same problems as listed above for the BLTM for the opposite driver!

BLTMs also can cause problems for other cars not in the left-turn lane. For those travelling in the opposite direction can be surprised by the BLTM when they suddenly appear from behind the left-turn drivers travelling in their direction. As before, this is annoying and unsafe. Those traveling in the same direction may also experience this to a lesser degree, but worse, they may have to adjust their position in their own lane to avoid a collision with the BLTM. This is somewhat less of an issue except for those BLTMs that actually rest on the line dividing the left-turn lane from the straight-through lane.

To avoid all these issues, only one thing needs to be done by a driver. If the potential BLTM instead takes the left-most position within their lane (prudently so as not to be in the way of oncoming traffic), all the above issues will be moot. In the event there is a median at the given intersection, this should be very easy to accomplish without being a hindrance to opposing traffic (assuming the driver can avoid travelling off the road).

If you think you may be a BLTM, try out this tip (stay to the left!) and see if you notice a difference. If you are unsure, also try it, because it can’t hurt.

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