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The Interstate driving HOWTO

By czth in Op-Ed
Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:42:03 AM EST
Tags: Humour (all tags)

It has come to my attention over the 45,000 km (~28,000 mi) that I've driven over the last several months1, that most people can't handle driving on the Interstate.

I sincerely hope that this essay will remedy the problem.

Getting on the Interstate

Where better to start than at the place where an innocent city (or country, y'all) driver first enters that winding sea to sea (or border to border) river of asphalt that will take them to destinations unknown?

The important thing to remember is that the Interstate is really just a really big long road. You know how to drive on roads, right? Right. So when you drive down that entry ramp, make sure you're going the ramp speed, usually 45mph, and remember that since the ramp goes on to the Interstate, that speed is also the speed limit on the Interstate until signed otherwise. Under no circumstances should you speed up; after all, giving other drivers a chance to test their brakes helps them in their own personal quest for safety, too. As soon as possible, you should - while maintaining speed - move into the left lane so that drivers can enter at upcoming exits.

Changing lanes

Here's one place where Interstate driving is different from city driving. In the city, some of you might be inclined to use your signal to tell those around you of your intentions. Don't do that here!3 If you let people know you're coming, they'll block you, because hey, how dare you try to come into their lane, in front of them?

Alright. So now it's just a matter of not bothering to check your blind spot or mirrors, and turning the wheel. A piece of cake. See, I knew you'd get the hang of it in no time.

Some of you have expressed concern about my advice above about not signalling, worried that this will cause your vehicle's signal mechanisms to atrophy and then not work when you need them - especially if you do a lot of Interstate driving. Well fear not! There's an easy solution: just put your indicator on when you enter the Interstate, and leave it on. It's a great way to practice mechanical vehicle safety.


How fast should you go on the Interstate? Easy question, and the answer's right at the side of the road for your convenience. Under no circumstances should you exceed this limit. It doesn't matter that only once in the history of the world has anyone been pulled over for doing less than 10mph over the limit; it's there for your safety so observe it.

Now since this is a limit, you're perfectly within your rights to go slower (some fascist states have minimum speed limits, but most don't). Sometimes you might want to match speeds with someone in the right lane (you are driving in the left lane like I told you, right?), so that you can drive together and help each other out if one of you has a breakdown. Some other cars might even drive close to you to join your "safety group"; the more the merrier (speaking of merry, some might even light-heartedly tootle their horns; feel free to tootle back). Make sure that whatever happens you don't go faster or slower than your "Interstate Buddy"; it could very well be that the instant you are apart one of you will have engine trouble, and not be able to help each other out.


There may come a time that you need to pass someone, say perhaps because your Interstate buddy has started to speed up, often while making indecent gestures in your general direction. Here's the low down.

Passing is actually a lot of fun. You can - only for a moment, mind you - drop that safe driver veneer, and let the Mario Andretti within come out. Start by getting as close as you can to the car in front which you wish to pass. (Some people say give 'em space in case something unexpected happens, but hey, you're a good judge of distance, and your quick reflexes can handle any sudden slowdowns.) Quickly pull into the other lane (HEY! don't even think about signalling; what if the person being passed has read the next section? Then where would you be?!)

It's important not to surprise the other driver by going past him too quickly. Usually you want to match his speed and ever-so-carefully nudge your speedometer up about a half a mile-per-hour faster than him (this works great with cruise control). That way you can slowly let the other driver know you're passing him, for the safety of all. If you need an example, watch two trucks4 passing each other.

When you're past him - remember not to waste precious space by going too far past - turn that wheel again and move in front. Feel free to slow down some; you're done passing, so he has to follow you now.

Since passing is so much fun, you may want to pass a particular car several times. This can be awkward if the other vehicle is maintaining an even speed (especially if they use cruise control), but just slow down a little, let them roll on past, and repeat the above steps. Hours of fun - just what you need to break the monotony of driving.

Being passed

Avoid at all costs. If someone is approaching in your rear view like a bat out of hell, too bad; you're going 50mph because it is a Safe Speed, and if they want to pass you that badly they can go around you. This goes double for trucks, all that stuff about it being harder to stop them is just to keep people from lucrative and exciting truck-driving careers; in reality they handle like sports cars and can stop on a dime.

When the passing vehicle (heh heh, I mean would-be passing vehicle) gets the hint that you aren't moving, and decides to go by you on the right, that's the time to give a little gas... match his speed. After all, he could be another potential Interstate buddy, so you don't want to let him get away. Even better, watch in your mirror for his signal and manoeuvre, and mimic it (except for the signal, of course). This takes real talent; good hand-eye coordination is essential.

Then, you play. Let him pass. Pass him. Slow down. Follow him into rest areas and leave when he does. It's endless fun for all. He'll thank you for making his driving experience more fun.

Rest stops

I only mention these in case you might be driven to stop at one for any reason other than for a quick washroom break - like, perhaps, to rest, or, heaven forbid, get a map (real men - and women - know where they're going). If you do want to look at the map, you should already have one, so you can look at it as you drive. And remember - caffeine is your friend (think bulk chocolate-covered coffee beans).

Stopping to sleep is for the weak. It shows a lack of dedication and a lack of faith in your God-given ability to drive for hours on end without stopping. Not to mention that the people you've just spent hours passing will now be able to pass you! If you do start feeling tired, other drivers will be happy to obligingly serenade you on their horns when you start sharing their lanes, and at either side of the road the blind driver strips5 give plenty of warning.

Leaving the Interstate

When you get to where you're going (or a reasonable approximation thereof), it's time to go back to boring ol' city driving. It's time to leave the Interstate, that shining river of people and communities and... er... sorry. I always wanted to be a poet.

Remember when I said the Interstate is just a big road, except wider and faster? Good. Getting off is sort of like getting on, but in reverse. First, figure out where your exit is. What you want is a sign saying the name of the exit with an arrow; ignore signs that have distance information, they're just trying to confuse you and make you lose contact with your Interstate buddy. As soon as you see that sign, change over to the right lane. Since you're on the left, this could mean moving over several lanes at once; that's OK. Just turn quickly and smoothly as soon as you see an opening as wide as your vehicle is long (or maybe a few feet more; remember, safety first).

Slow down. You don't want to miss the exit, do you know how much gas you waste when you have to go back an exit? Think of the environment! (Sorry. So many causes, I can hardly restrict myself to just one at a time.) Your brake lights will be adequate warning to other drivers that you're slowing down, and again they will thank you for letting them test their brakes, sometimes by melodically tootling their thank-you trumpets at you. Come to a complete stop close to the exit ramp; then put on your signal (it's OK now, since you're blocking the ramp so nobody can get in your way).

After waiting sufficiently for those around you to become aware of you, slowly drive into the exit ramp. Go down the middle if it's wide (you don't want to drive off the edge, especially if you're all hooped up on cola), and make sure the dotted line is between your wheels. When you get to the end, slow down and read the signs and decide where you want to go; since you're in the middle, you can postpone your choice as long as you like.

And that, gentle reader, is how to drive on the Interstate.


1 I bought my car, a '98 Toyota Camry, in November 2001, with 73,408 kms on it; now it's just over 117,000. Most of the distance has been put on since March, when I moved from near Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, to Memphis, Tennessee, USA2, and have, on various weekends and holidays, driven in or through the following states: TN, AR, LA, TX, MS, KY, OH, IL, NY, MO, PA, VA, and WV.

2 I am in no way suggesting that the US has a monopoly on bad drivers; we have our fair share in Canada, too (but they're politer about it ;). I will say beware the I-55 in AR and drivers from NC....

3 At least in Tennessee, it is illegal to change lanes without signalling on the Interstate. Let's get some cops out of the speed traps and into patrolling for real violations....

4 Not to slam trucks; the rate of idiot drivers is probably far lower among truckers (I'd estimate under 10%, versus about 70% among the sheep^H^H^H^H^H general populace). Give 'em lots of room when you pass and don't drive in their blind spots.

5 The ruts at the edges of the road that make a noise when you drive over them... what, you didn't know that they were for blind drivers? The Interstate is accessible to all, now, in this modern age.


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Display: Sort:
The Interstate driving HOWTO | 248 comments (211 topical, 37 editorial, 1 hidden)
New Jersey driving how-to (4.00 / 3) (#2)
by MeanGene on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 08:56:31 PM EST


learn html (1.25 / 8) (#6)
by GoodEnough on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 09:10:52 PM EST

by reading this

I voted +1FP, and I don't want it on the front page -- Caton
[ Parent ]
learn copy n paste (en tea) (2.00 / 4) (#8)
by noogie on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 09:35:59 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Painfully true... (1.00 / 2) (#126)
by sbalea on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:22:36 PM EST

nuff said...

[ Parent ]
-1 too EVIL POLLUTING car driver centric :P [n/t] (2.22 / 9) (#5)
by 5pectre on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 09:10:14 PM EST

"Let us kill the English, their concept of individual rights might undermine the power of our beloved tyrants!!" - Lisa Simpson [ -1.50 / -7.74]

turn signals. (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by aphrael on Tue Sep 03, 2002 at 11:23:36 PM EST

it's *not* just a freeway problem; i've almost run into cars on my bicycle and skateboard numerous times because their drivers decided to turn in front of me without using their turn signal. it's almost as if using the signal is viewed as a form of weakness.

not almost (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by hans on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 02:55:05 AM EST

There's nothing like a late afternoon pinwheel over the hood of a Mazda to set your body in traction.

[ Parent ]
US use of signals (3.50 / 2) (#34)
by grand master thump on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 08:56:40 AM EST

When I was 18, some friends and I popped over to California for a week. Being a bunch of lads from London we took great interest in the small differences between cultures, one of which was the driving, we noticed that virtually no one indicated (used turn signals, called indicators in the UK) when making turns. This we found unusual as most of the time UK drivers do and anyone who doesn't is considered a pratt who should not have a licence. Whilst we were in San Francisco we took a taxi from Fishermans wharf back to our hotel and noticed that this particularly cool and friendly cabbie did use his signals, we queried him on this and why other drivers didn't. His answer cracked us up, "hey man, it's a finesse thing". That about summed it up.

This sig has been stolen
[ Parent ]

the infamous right hook (none / 0) (#223)
by bfields on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:15:04 PM EST

i've almost run into cars on my bicycle and skateboard numerous times because their drivers decided to turn in front of me without using their turn signal. it's almost as if using the signal is viewed as a form of weakness.

Hmmm. Is it possible you were trying to do traffic speeds on the sidewalk?

It's reasonable to expect cars to look to make sure the crosswalk is clear before turning across it. It is *not* wise to expect them to scan the sidewalk for people 30 feet away on a collision course with them....

Unless you're really doing pedestrain speeds, you're traffic; act like it (take to the streets!) and everyone involved will be safer and happier.

--Bruce F.

[ Parent ]
Driving abroad? (4.20 / 5) (#23)
by Quila on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 03:52:58 AM EST

No one here's ever driven in Saudi Arabia I bet. Nothing in the U.S. comes close to the sheer excitement and adventure.

Can't be that bad (2.72 / 11) (#24)
by Big Dogs Cock on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 04:14:24 AM EST

They don't let women drive so it should be much safer.

People say that anal sex is unhealthy. Well it cured my hiccups.
[ Parent ]
I think I'd prefer the women (3.66 / 3) (#25)
by Quila on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 05:10:08 AM EST

The men are suicidal.

[ Parent ]
If they drive the same way they fly...[n/t] (3.66 / 6) (#29)
by Big Dogs Cock on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 06:46:08 AM EST

People say that anal sex is unhealthy. Well it cured my hiccups.
[ Parent ]
Ouch, that was bad (4.00 / 4) (#31)
by Quila on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 06:49:57 AM EST

But in that case, they knew how to fly. They do not know how to drive.

[ Parent ]
Saudi driving (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by kentm on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 03:23:14 PM EST

I enjoyed 2 things when I was in Saudi Arabia (Dahran)... coke (the beverage) is very cheap, and the driving is crazy fun.

Cruising speed was around 140km/h.  At one point, I passed a police car on the side of the road.  I started to slow down, then realized I was in Saudi Arabia, and stepped on the gas again.  He was sleeping in his car.

If the driver in front of you is too slow, just pass him, even if you're on an on/off ramp for the freeway.

At one point, we actually passed an ambulance with its lights on because it was moving too slow for us!

It is really a miracle that we survived our trip.  The statistics I heard were something like 1 automobile fatality every hour in that country.

[ Parent ]

At least for me (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by Quila on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:31:56 AM EST

I was driving HMMWVs (Hummers) and large trucks. Who cares if they hit you, they're the ones who were going to get hurt. Notice how after an accident, they just left the cars where they were?

One specific scene I remember was driving on a two lane road in a HMMWV with an Army 5-ton truck coming the other way. One Saudi was passing me on the right and two were passing him -- one on the right and one on the left. At the passing point, we were five cars abreast, with the outside cars mostly in the sand.

There was one bus that transported people back and forth between two places, and it was known to have at least one accident per week. This fact was featured in the Doonsbury coverage of the war (when he spotlighted an Air Force artist's strips), "You're going on a trip, time to earn your danger pay."

Of course, what can you expect for a place where you could walk in with your camel and drive out with a new car (well, 99% white Japanese pickup).

[ Parent ]

in saudi (5.00 / 1) (#130)
by odaiwai on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:45:15 PM EST

you have to know the approved overtaking (passing) strategy.

This is very simple.  You drive straight at the back of someone and pray.  If you're both good Muslims, he'll get out of your way because God is on your side.

If you're the only good Muslim, then you'll have a crash.  This also explains September 11: the Saudi Pilots were just trying to overtake the WTC.

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]

Third World Drivers... (none / 0) (#155)
by ThePlague on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:48:20 PM EST

Make the most rabid road rager look timid in style. I knew a physics post-doc, top of his class, etc, from Iran originally. Brillant guy. I saw this man on one of the infamous DC circles miss his street, stop the car, and back up on the circle during rush hour traffic to get to the proper exit.

[ Parent ]
Heh (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by strlen on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 05:26:55 AM EST

Nice and humorous, I love this, so a +1, FP from me, for the witty use of satire.

However, for a serious interstate driving howto I give you this tip:

1) If you're in the left lane doing the speed limit and you see my high beams in your mirror, please get the fuck out. Thanks.

Sorry, had to vent, as your how-to seems describe very close the driving style around this area, which is often responsible for road congestions, unsafe passing maneuvers, and excessive driver frustration, not to mention accidents.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.

Bright Lights, Big Freeway (5.00 / 2) (#95)
by jefu on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 08:52:31 AM EST

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Suppose Person A is driving down a two lane interstate in the left hand lane. The right hand lane has a number of cars in it - not necessarily packed, but there are a fair number. These cars are travelling at K miles per hour. Person A is passing them at L mph (L > K). Person B comes up behind Person A moving at M mph (M > L).

Your contention is that if you are Person B, Person A must now slow down and merge with the vehicles in the right hand lane. And evidently, since the brights are being flashed, this is a matter of some urgency.

If you are Person A does the appropriate behavior change?

Does anything change for different values of K, L, M? For example suppose that the difference between K and L is relatively large compared to the difference between L and M (so that the change in speed required of Person A would be greater than that of Person B - hence potentially more hazardous).

Suppose now that Person A is driving with light traffic in the left hand lane and merges right to allow Person B through and B just does the same thing to the next person up the way. Is not Person B increasing the risks of accidents?

Finally, I'm unsure as to why Person B gets to determine the (local) rules of the road. Can you explain this to me in words of one or two syllables (I am, you see, "a bear of very little brain.")

It seems to me that you are implying that the Person B must have some kind of situation that requires the time saved, and that even if Person A feels the same way that Person B is always right.

Personally, if someone comes up behind me moving faster than I am, I do try to get out of the way as expiditiously as I can consonent with safety as I see it (if there is an accident caused by my driving, I cannot just say, "Well, gee, its really that guys fault who came up behind me that fast, he was really responsible for that lane change - so don't give me a hard time.")

However, if someone comes up fast behind me and starts flashing lights and so on, I'll not be feeling motivated to getting out of the way quite so fast.

I suspect that this is a rather deeper problem than just people driving along the highway - it fits with some notions I've been exploring recently about modelling each such interaction as an implicit negotiation between the drivers and that the drivers perception of the optimum "payoff" (saved time...) as well as their notion of some "optimal strategy" is dependent (among other things) on the history of such interactions that they have participated in. (OK, I admit, its foggy yet.)

[ Parent ]

Light traffic (none / 0) (#107)
by roiem on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:05:48 AM EST

I honestly don't think strlen meant this comment when there's a lot of traffic or when A is genuinely overtaking traffic. I have seen many (too many) drivers just cruising in the left lane when they're obviously not in the process of overtaking anyone, and the right lane is either empty or going approximately the same speed as them. Also note that strlen said "If you're doing the speed limit in the left lane".

90% of all projects out there are basically glorified interfaces to relational databases.
Parent ]
One reason (none / 0) (#181)
by John Miles on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:26:00 PM EST

... is the relatively-bad condition of the right lane (read: the one the 80,000-pound trucks all use) versus the left lane on many/most highways in the US.

That certainly doesn't excuse left-lane camping, but it does explain why a lot of people do it.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

common courtesy... (none / 0) (#144)
by borful on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:18:19 PM EST

...is not so common.

I think the "appropriate behavior" does change. The more M is greater than L, the quicker Person A should pull over. Two reasons: A should get out of that crazy Person B's way and since M is much greater, Person B will quickly be gone and Person A can get back to the business of passing all those slow speed K vehicles.

On the other hand, if M is close to L and L is much greater than K, then Person A has more leeway. A is not holding B up all that much, and both are getting past those really slow K speed vehicles.

Another factor missing in your Algebra of the Highway (AotH) is the spacing of the speed K vehicles in the right lane. If the average gap G is large, it's easier for Person A to move over and let that speedy Person B past and still get back into the left lane before using up all of gap G. If the gaps between the vehicles is small, Person A will have to duck into the small gap and brake to match velocties. It's only fair for Person B to ask this if speeds L and K are close, and M is much greater.

Unfortunately, AotH (Algebra of the Highway) only works if all the drivers on the road are able and willing to make the calculations.

For a long time, I would make monthly 400 mile drives to visit family. On holiday weekends the roads were chaos - not because of more cars on the roads - because the drivers did not have the experience to do the math. (I'd leave early or late enough to avoid the worst of the traffic density.) On non-holiday weekends, when only the "regulars" were on the road, we could go hours without obscene gestures being made. The regulars would do the math and slide over to let the Person Bs past and then get back out to pass those slow K speed vehicles.

Math. It's a good thing.

- borful
Money is how people with no talent keep score.
[ Parent ]

Too USian (2.33 / 6) (#27)
by tonyenkiducx on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 06:05:15 AM EST

Sorry, but I dont understand a lot of it, and not the humour of it either..

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called utopia. And I see us invading that planet, because they'd never expect it
America isn't a continent. (4.00 / 5) (#47)
by bill_mcgonigle on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 02:02:37 PM EST

Let's do this again:

North American - person from/living on North America
South American - person from/living on South America
American - person from/living in the United States of America

[ Parent ]

That's true (3.50 / 2) (#55)
by aphrael on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 04:55:34 PM EST

only in the mind of people who live in / are from the US; it's not the normal usage elsewhere in the world, and it *really irritates* people from what the US calls 'Latin America'.

[ Parent ]
United States of AMERICA (3.00 / 3) (#59)
by Argel on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 07:08:18 PM EST

Isn't the reason we're "Americans" because we're the only country with "America" in it's name? I guess you could complain to our founding fathers for picking such a generic name for the country.

[ Parent ]
"Founding Fathers" (1.33 / 3) (#72)
by j harper on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:22:12 AM EST

Every country has their own set of founders.

Public school indoctrination crops up at the funniest times.


"I have to say, the virgin Mary is pretty fucking hot." - Myriad
[ Parent ]

huh? (none / 0) (#81)
by BCoates on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 05:55:35 AM EST

Every country has their own set of founders.

Well it wouldn't make much sense for all countries to have the same set of founders, would it?

Benjamin Coates

[ Parent ]

It is common usage (none / 0) (#74)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:14:42 AM EST

In Europe, and in the other English-speaking countries, including Canada. I can't comment on the opinions of people from Latin America (also common usage).


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
so... (none / 0) (#104)
by joshsisk on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:50:39 AM EST

In the rest of the world, Brazilians, Peruvians, Mexicans and Canadians are all actually called Americans?

I've met a lot of people from other countries and no one has ever used the word in that way to me.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

In spanish and portugese (none / 0) (#116)
by aphrael on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:48:22 AM EST

americano means 'person from north or south america'. norteamericano or yanqui means 'person from the United States'. Historically, pre-WWII at least, 'America' in english (as used in Britain and its colonies) meant 'north and south america', and 'American' meant 'person from one of the countries in America'.

[ Parent ]
hmm. (none / 0) (#118)
by joshsisk on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:59:01 AM EST

Everyone I know from Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico and Canada (the only other countries in this hemisphere from which I know people) tends to refer to themselves as Brazilian, Bolivian, Mexican or Canadian, and people from the US as American.  Maybe it used to be different.

I don't like USian, personally, because it sounds odd to use an acronym in that way.
logjamming.com : web hosting for weblogs, NOT gay lumberjack porn
[ Parent ]

In light of this... (none / 0) (#163)
by Dephex Twin on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:11:39 PM EST

I would ask that Australians please find a more specific name for their country, as Australia is the name of the continent and therefore New Zealanders are Australian.  I can't understand why people from the country of Australia think they can do this.

Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
[ Parent ]
Maybe Im missing something.. (none / 0) (#87)
by tonyenkiducx on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:22:52 AM EST

But that does that have to do with my comment? I was saying that the story hardly made any sense to me because it was USian(Note United States, not america).

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called utopia. And I see us invading that planet, because they'd never expect it
[ Parent ]
Because USian is not a word (none / 0) (#128)
by jacoberrol on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:26:18 PM EST

It's pretty simple.


Everybody is well aware that the there are two continents called North America and South America. Thus, there are many people who can be called Americans. However, it is common usage to refer to citizens of the US as Americans.

If you like, you can refer to us by our state of origin, but you better know the proper term for all fifty states! I'm from Michigan. Do you know what a citizen of Michigan is called? I'll bet you think it's Michiganian.

If you absolutely cannot stand to call us Americans, then please don't make up a words. Instead, reword your sentence.

Instead of "American", "Citizen of the United" States.
Instead of "too USian", "too US centric"

[ Parent ]
of course it's a word! (5.00 / 1) (#141)
by pb on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:03:38 PM EST

Here's some history about it too.

Hey, did you know that all words are made up?  So don't try to talk to me with your made up words...
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Thats just semantics.. (none / 0) (#205)
by tonyenkiducx on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 11:38:22 AM EST

The word USian is used many many times on this site and is always ment to mean Americans. I apologise if I offended You, that wasnt my intention, but I still think its valid English. Allthough I have to marvel at the number of people who have slated my lack of use of 's, who also use the word USian and think its OK. Technically it should be US'ian, but Im not a small minded pedant so I let it slide ;)

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called utopia. And I see us invading that planet, because they'd never expect it
[ Parent ]
Michiganian? HA! (none / 0) (#225)
by irksome on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 11:17:10 PM EST

Since you're also from the wonderful Mitten State, of course, you will share my amusement at the rest of the nation's insistence that we're "Michiganians".

(for those of you who aren't in on the joke, I'll clear it up for you ... a citizen of the State of Michigan is known as a Michigander)

(and on a totally unrelated note, they're not "Canadian geese", rather "Canada geese" (the logic behind this is that "Canadian" implies "citizen of Canada", and the geese most certainly are not citizens))

I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

It's worth it (none / 0) (#165)
by BurntHombre on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:53:31 PM EST

Personally, I don't begrudge others the use of 'USian' anymore. If I did, I wouldn't be able to use the word 'EUnik' -- and that would be a shame.

[ Parent ]
Too UnAmerican (2.50 / 6) (#30)
by snacky on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 06:48:26 AM EST

I wish you had left out the reference to French commie "Kilometers" (or "kilometres," if you swing that way), but overall this is the most complete guide of its type, and I'm giving it +1FP. What I most regret is that you didn't give any advice on when and where to leave your turn signal on. It is a fantastic technique for controlling traffic behind you, and the delightful "tick tick tick" sound of your signal indicator can make a long drive much more enjoyable.

I like snacks
kms, and thanks (none / 0) (#35)
by czth on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 09:26:07 AM EST

I wish you had left out the reference to French commie "Kilometers" (or "kilometres," if you swing that way)...

My car's odometer is in kilometres (that's how we spell it in Canada); at least I converted the distance in the intro copy :). And of course while I'm in the US I'll use miles and mph in the spirit of "when in Rome"... I had to mentally convert distances for the first little while, but don't any more. Actually, I think it's not just the French "commies" that use kms, but pretty much everyone except the US... ironic that the anti-imperialists are using Imperial measurements ;).

When I was doing my TN driver exam, to get a TN license, the examiner looked at my spedometer and accusingly asked "What's the speed limit?" "45." "Well then, either your spedometer is broken or something, because I know we ain't going 80." So I pointed out that the outer ring was km/h and the inner mph, and all was well.

As to why I need a TN license: after I crossed over the International Peace Bridge (Buffalo, NY -> Fort Erie, ON) and was going to get my TN (Trade NAFTA) Visa at INS, some guy in a Ford Explorer (fortunately, Ontarian, or things could have been complicated) backed into my car (I wasn't even driving, actually, my Dad was parking the car while I went inside, and at the time the idiot backed into me my car wasn't moving). Insurance covered it, but to get a rental/loaner car here I need local insurance and a local license etc. I still have probably the only Ontario plates for miles (kilometres ;) around.

What I most regret is that you didn't give any advice on when and where to leave your turn signal on. It is a fantastic technique for controlling traffic behind you, and the delightful "tick tick tick" sound of your signal indicator can make a long drive much more enjoyable.

What I regret is not being able to (with your permission and credit) incorporate the above in the article. Oh well. If you don't object, I'll put it into the copy I keep on my site (or a resubmit if it gets shot down in flames).


[ Parent ]

Yes, do so (1.00 / 1) (#45)
by snacky on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 01:51:40 PM EST

I would be delighted if you expanded the turn signal advice per my suggestion.

Also, I don't dispute the fact that the commie French have duped millions into using their measurement system. It's still commie, and it's still French.

I like snacks
[ Parent ]

Commie? (none / 0) (#93)
by synaesthesia on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 08:27:00 AM EST

French yes.

Commie? Are you referring to the fact that they had a revolution? In which case STFU pinko US scum!

Sausages or cheese?
[ Parent ]

Driving in the city.. (3.00 / 1) (#32)
by ignatiusst on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 08:23:24 AM EST

In the city, some of you might be inclined to use your signal to tell those around you of your intentions. Don't do that here! If you let people know you're coming, they'll block you, because hey, how dare you try to come into their lane, in front of them?

This is so true, at least in Charlotte, NC. If you are on the interstate (I-77, I-85, I-277, or I-485), signaling to merge with traffic just excites the other drivers. I've noticed (especially in the evening rush hour) that women drivers are the absolute worst about closing ranks when you are signaling to merge with traffic.

The best way to get into a new lane is to make brief eye contact with the driver your trying to cut-off. Once the eye contact has been made, don't hesitate. Wave a quick thank-you and break eye contact as you squeeze into the traffic. Once eye contact is made, they know you are coming. Once you wave a thank-you, it doesn't matter if they want you in front of them or not. You have signaled that you (and, presumably, they) understand that you intend to merge.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

My method... (none / 0) (#52)
by araym on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 03:45:05 PM EST

I usually put on the turn signal for a few seconds and of course they'll start to close the gap to block your entry then you just start slowly moving into the lane, once they realize you're coming they'll back off or rear end you, it's a win-win.


[ Parent ]
Swerve a bit. (5.00 / 3) (#134)
by dark on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:17:12 PM EST

You can also give the steering wheel a little jiggle, so that it looks to the other drivers as if your car is dangerously unstable on the road. Then they'll give you room.

[ Parent ]
I want to kiss everyone in Wisconcin, (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by greyrat on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 09:32:44 AM EST

because (almost without fail) they all know how to merge into highway traffic -- at the same speed as the cars already on the highway.

I have not experienced this phenomenon as consistently in any other state.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

WI drivers (none / 0) (#51)
by bdjohns1 on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 03:23:17 PM EST

They just like driving 5-under all the time, and don't know how to use lanes correctly. If I had to distill Wisconsin drivers down to one person, it'd be an old woman in the left lane going 50 in a 55 zone.

[ Parent ]
Cheeseheads, take it from an ex-FIB (none / 0) (#78)
by bosk on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 05:29:36 AM EST

It helps to have a goal while driving.  Have a reason for getting behind the wheel, know where you want to go.  And then do it!  Don't just meander all over the place.

[ Parent ]
Chicago drivers in America's Dairyland (none / 0) (#139)
by thomp on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:57:34 PM EST

It's common knowledge that the worst drivers on the roads in Wisconsin are the people from Chicago driving to and from their cabins/campgrounds/etc. Brand new SUVs pulling brand new boats or snowmobiles swerving in and out of traffic at 80 mph bumper-to-bumper.

Drive north on I90 on Friday night and then come south on I90 Sunday night. Experience firsthand the anarchy that is possible on US freeways. The only thing missing is gunplay.

[ Parent ]
We've *had* gunplay! (none / 0) (#147)
by greyrat on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:41:02 PM EST

As an ex-Chicagoan, I'm always assigned that little strip (10 miles or so) of I-90 that we have to drive on Friday night. I can handle the traffic, but I refuse to get a gun. I just let those particular nuts go by.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
I-90 North? (none / 0) (#226)
by irksome on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 11:23:45 PM EST

Hate to bust your bubble, but I-90 doesn't run North.  Or South for that matter.

(even numbered freeways run East/West, odd numbered freeways are North/South)

I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

Yes, I-90 North (none / 0) (#235)
by Glurfle on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 06:14:22 PM EST

Hate to burst yours, but check a map before claiming that.  I-90 generally runs east/west, but not where he's talking about.  Rockford to Madison is probably closer to NNW.

[ Parent ]
/me opens mouth, inserts foot (none / 0) (#236)
by irksome on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 12:27:31 PM EST


I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

For me, anyway... (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Phil the Canuck on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 09:52:43 AM EST

There's nothing quite like crossing the Peace Bridge form the US to Canada during a busy period, especially if they've limited Canada-bound traffic to one lane. That free-for-all funnel zone after the tolls is the most fun ever, especially now with the post 9/11 security perimeter. Now you get to merge twice!

I'm not an asshole driver by nature, but driving through this every day forces me to become one for a few minutes. If you intend to be a nice, courteous driver on this route at a busy time, you may as well pull over to the duty free shop and go shopping til the traffic dies down. You'll be stuck there that long anyway.


I don't think being an idiot comes with a pension plan though. Unless you're management of course. - hulver

Luckily, the last few times I crossed that way... (none / 0) (#40)
by czth on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 10:20:53 AM EST

... it was around 3am and silent as the grave. But I have been there when it was busy... got stuck behind a bus because the bus in question was blocking the "BUSES ALLOWED" sign on the lane (argh).


[ Parent ]

Oh Man! Don't Get Me Started! (4.50 / 2) (#53)
by Ragnar Bocephus on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 04:09:38 PM EST

I loved this article! +1 FP. I have a driver's license that allows me to drive everything from motorcycles to commercial vehicles (18-wheelers) and I have hazardous materials, combinations (multiple trailers) and tanker endorsements. I have over 1.5 million miles under my belt I must say that this story is FUNNY. I have seen so much crap on the road since I started driving I could write a book on the subject.

It might help if people actually learned HOW to drive. For regular drivers (read non commercial) all that is need to obtain a license in my state (Kansas) is to pass a small OPEN BOOK written test. MY GOD! THE HUMANITY! It makes me afraid to leave the house.

Open book test in Kansas? (5.00 / 2) (#66)
by Humuhumunukunukuapuaa on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 10:10:54 PM EST

That sounds hard!
[ Parent ]
There's more challenge (none / 0) (#58)
by psicE on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 07:04:05 PM EST

You talk briefly about getting off the Interstate. But that doesn't cover it in Massachusetts.

Suppose I want to get from Gloucester to Taunton. I have to get on I-95, which later converges with 128, and the exit numbers change from 1-30 to 44 and down. Then after circling around Boston, the exits change once again. In all, you have three different sets of numbers. If you're not from around here, it's impossible to get around (I don't drive myself, and I still can't follow how anyone does it).

Of course, if you live anywhere in Eastern MA, and you want to get to Waltham, it's all too easy. :D

Dude, invest in a good map (3.00 / 1) (#61)
by czth on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 07:26:50 PM EST

All that you mentioned is on my map (actually it looks like you start on 128 and then get on I-95, but I digress). Exit numbers too - very handy. If you're from out of town, you could always humble yourself to ask at a gas station (too bad Real Men don't ask for directions; maybe get your SO to ask). Everywhere I've been I've been able to find with my map, sometimes needing to buy local maps e.g. when I was shooting (photographing) a wedding in a Chicago suburb earlier this month, but at $3.95 it's a good investment (heh, the side pockets in my car doors are packed with state and city maps, and more at home...).

Of course, maps don't tell you everything, you have to live somewhere to learn local traffic patterns and all that... but they'll get you within shouting distance, most of the time. There's been one exception... getting around a certain small town in West Virginia (getting to it was no problem, and since everyone knows everybody else I probably could have asked directions, in fact). I don't think there are maps of that town... fortunately I had a guide.


[ Parent ]

Like I said, (none / 0) (#63)
by psicE on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 08:26:22 PM EST

I don't actually have to drive it. And people who do, who live around here, quickly adapt - and out-of-towners buy maps anyway.

That being said, I still don't see why they couldn't consistently number the exits. Or, at least, why they couldn't just scrap the exits, and instead consistently name the signs.

When I leave Boston and see a sign for 114, I don't want to be told I'm going to Middleton, when in fact there's a huge number of towns in between, much more important than Middleton, that I might be going to. When I'm on 128, I don't want to see a sign every mile telling me that the three left lanes head to Waltham; or northbound, the same for Gloucester. Of course I don't think we should actually invest money in changing anything, because every traffic impediment is another plus for commmuter rail :D, but it's still fun to make fun of.

[ Parent ]

Careful what you wish for. (none / 0) (#73)
by bunsen on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:50:48 AM EST

You say you want consistent names? Heh heh heh. The city planners for Albequerque certainly delivered in that department.

I'm guessing you've driven in Albequerque. The road signs there read like the script to an episode of the Smurfs, but instead of Smurf all over the place, it's Tramway. In one section of town, there are no fewer than 12, count 'em, twelve roads named Tramway Something (Something = {Blvd, Pl, a different Pl, Circle, Ln, Ct, Ln Ct, Tc, Tc Ct, Tc Loop, Vista Dr, Vista Pl, and probably more}). Most of them intersect each other. It's possible to reach almost any location in that region from almost any other nearby location without driving on anything not named Tramway. (This must make for some damned amusing directions. "You take Tramway 3 blocks, hang a left onto Tramway, then take the second Tramway to the right, and straight on till Tramway.")

(I just checked the map, and you can follow those exact directions. I'm not sure if there's anything of significance at each end, but at least one such route exists.)

One can imagine the fun of navigating through this region with directions from somebody who can't give decent directions to save their life, who screwed up the name of one of the 2 non-Tramway roads we needed to turn on, and who referred to the one Tramway we were supposed to take as just "Tramway."

There were two questions in our minds after finally finding our destination:
1. What the hell were the city planners smoking?
2. Where do we find them, so we can go beat the Tramway out of them?

Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)
[ Parent ]

Atlanta does this too... (none / 0) (#111)
by Kintanon on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:22:41 AM EST

In Atlanta we have the same situation, 6-8 roads named Peachtree something, 6-8 roads named Martin Luther King something....

It's crazy.


[ Parent ]

Yeah right (none / 0) (#76)
by Josh A on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:23:47 AM EST

Map or no map, Boston is still the most confusing place to drive that I've ever been. Hmmmm, I should probably think about Boston next time I'm lost in Rochester.

I tried to call the Mayor once while driving. The plan was to share the pain I was feeling at that very moment trying to drive around on roads with no signs. Unfortunately, the office was closed. Next time.

Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney

[ Parent ]
You haven't seen confusing (none / 0) (#114)
by yora on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:36:53 AM EST

Actually here in India, in most of the older cities you will find that houses,etc are randomly numbered and with no logic behind the numbering, as if someone decided to number his house 1 and the next guy decided that it is better to number his house 54. In fact in a lot of these places, the only way to reach your destination is by asking around. If you don't then best of luck ;)

[ Parent ]
Err (3.00 / 1) (#62)
by DoomGerbil on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 07:34:57 PM EST

Exits in California don't even have numbers....what's wrong with knowing where you're going?

[ Parent ]
and thank Medusa for that (none / 0) (#75)
by Josh A on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:20:52 AM EST

Here in Rochester, NY it seems that every road and exit has both a name and a number (Exit 14a, Route 252, NY53, whatever)...

...and it seems to be a metaphysical law that if the road even has a sign, it will not be the proper one for the directions you have. If you have the name, all you'll get is a large #; if you know the number, it will be nowhere to be seen, but you'll know that you just passed Paul Rd. (whoops that was it) while you continue on your quest.

Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney

[ Parent ]
Exit Numbers in CA (none / 0) (#154)
by The Vulture on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:46:33 PM EST

They do exist, believe it or not, CalTrans just isn't so great about signing them.

In the Bay Area lately, as some new ramps are being done (in particular, I'm thinking about I-880/SR-237, which is exits 8A/8B in the Milpitas area), they are starting to include exit numbers on the new signs.  The exit number, according to the rules in California is actually the mile marker number for that exit (the mile marker from the beginning/end of the road, not the state mile marker, which just marks the number of miles from the beginning/ending of that county segment).

Of course, with CalTrans still using the 30+ year old signs that have the reflective dots on them (I can't remember the term for them), we might have to wait a while until all of these signs actually get replaced.

-- Joe

[ Parent ]

some more info (none / 0) (#164)
by denzo on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:20:38 PM EST

Here's the press release from January 31st regarding the new exit numbers.


[ Parent ]

i like this way (none / 0) (#189)
by Banjonardo on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 12:58:53 AM EST

I like knowing I'm leaving 680 for Bowlinger Canyon Road, goddamit! Who needs numbers anyways?
I like Muffins. MOLDY muffins.
[ Parent ]
BUT ... (none / 0) (#227)
by irksome on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 11:37:44 PM EST

but, without exit numbers, it's not possible to have accidentally amusing road signs, such as "Exit 69, Big Beaver Rd."

I think I am, therefore I'm not.
[ Parent ]

Yay California (none / 0) (#244)
by KOTHP on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 01:21:12 AM EST

Shortly after I moved to the Bay Area, I was amused to find the stretch of highway that is I80 West/580 East (which leads south). I80 East/580West clearly runs the other way (north).

It makes sense if you look at a map, of course, but it's a good double-take when you first glance at the highway marker trying to figure out which way you are going...

[ Parent ]

NY is bad too (3.00 / 1) (#102)
by JonesBoy on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:34:15 AM EST

In long island, the 200 series roads do not lead to their double digit roads, the even numbered highways run N-S and the odds run E-W.   The 400's are also counter-intuitive.

I believe it is route 28, in upstate NY that is also called 28N.   On one stretch of road, 28 northbound is also 28N southbound.

I-287 is also interesting.   In NY, 287 north actually runs east, then south.

Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]

81N is 77S (none / 0) (#115)
by czth on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:44:02 AM EST

I believe it's in Virginia (might be east Tennessee) - I don't have my map with me right now - that the I-81 north is the I-77 south for a while (and vice versa), and they unashamedly state this on the signs to return to the Interstate. *Boggle*


[ Parent ]

see now (1.00 / 1) (#103)
by Davidicus on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:35:23 AM EST

thats why i live in waltham. I can allways find my way home. --dave

[ Parent ]
and a compass won't help... (none / 0) (#145)
by BigNachos on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:18:22 PM EST

Also, on the same stretch of road, for a few miles you can simultaneously be traveling south on 128 and north on Route 1. Even though, in reality, you'll really be heading east, more or less.

[ Parent ]
And then theres Nashua NH (4.00 / 1) (#156)
by nne3jxc on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:50:09 PM EST

In the Nashua area of NH, there are TWO Route 3's. One is the "new" 4-6 lane Rt3 that goes on south into Massachusetts, has exit numbers, and is a communting nightmare. Then there's "old Rt3" which parallels the other Rt3 (a couple of miles away) but is a smaller "secondary" road. This confuses the crap out of tourists. (of course we like it that way.) And if you look on a map, it doesn't really help, since they're both labeled Rt3 and also variously named the "Everett Turnpike" or "Daniel Webster Highway" depending on the map you look at. Oh, and just to top it off, there's a "Route 3A" just on the other side of the river.....

[ Parent ]
As the other guy said... (4.00 / 1) (#162)
by fullcity on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 05:33:05 PM EST

I've found that if you want to navigate eastern MA, it helps to live in Waltham.

I drove through the 128/20 interchange for over a year without realizing that it is a rotary.  When you drive through it, it's just a maze of ramps with randomly-placed yield signs.  But viewed from overhead, its structure becomes clear:


Everybody "entering the rotary" has a yield sign.  That means people flying along the freeway at 65 are supposed to slow down to merge with people coming around a tight turn.

Needless to say, the yield signs are ignored.

There's one fly in the ointment that we've swept under the rug.
[ Parent ]

Waltham (none / 0) (#172)
by DJBongHit on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:30:09 PM EST

Of course, if you live anywhere in Eastern MA, and you want to get to Waltham, it's all too easy. :D
And a good thing too. Waltham has the only remaining Bickford's that allows smoking, and if it wasn't for Bickford's, where would I go with my laptop to code and chainsmoke?


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Er (none / 0) (#173)
by DJBongHit on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:33:56 PM EST

Waltham has the only remaining Bickford's that allows smoking
Well, out of Waltham, Framingham, and Marlboro, Waltham Bickford's is the only one that allows smoking, anyway. I'm sure there are others outside of this fascist state.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
support trains (3.50 / 2) (#60)
by turmeric on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 07:09:07 PM EST

america is built on cars. the stress you describe is inherent in the system. ride a train, then you can complain about smelly people and that person who crapped in the sink insteda of the toilet. at least they arent threatening your life to the tune of 38,000 deaths per year.

Some more advice... (none / 0) (#67)
by DeadBaby on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 10:20:05 PM EST

If you're in the left lane and your exit happens to be coming up soon... you should speed up and cut in front of me then slam on your breaks as you realize you cannot make the exit turn at 80mph.

Oh and always make sure when you get into the left lane to just sort of sit there for a while -- we all have such a good time watching you talk on your cell phone.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan

Ze Germans (3.60 / 5) (#68)
by acafox on Wed Sep 04, 2002 at 10:50:49 PM EST

The German autobahn system, which has many sections with no speed limits, has a virtually identical fatality rate to the US interstate highway system. Why? Three main reasons: 1) German drivers are actually trained in driving as opposed to the information on drink-driving most Americans get as their training. 2) The German system stresses safety, therefore it is very unlikely that you will see a 1982 Chevelle with nonfunctioning brakes and no tail lights on the road. 3) The roads are designed by people who have engineering degrees that come from schools without Mickey Mouse as the mascot. They are also well maintained. No potholes, good water runoff, proper banking. American roads seem designed for the lowest cost, not the highest safety and efficiency. Until the US begins to address these problems, the interstate highway system will continue to be full of terrible drivers and riddled with deadly accidents.

They also have... (none / 0) (#79)
by Caton on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 05:42:49 AM EST

...the fastest emergency services in Europe.

As long as there's hope...
[ Parent ]
US road fatalities are 150% that of Germany (none / 0) (#82)
by bosk on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 05:59:45 AM EST

Perhaps the road fatality rates for Germany and the US are the same for highway driving but overall, the US road fatality rate is 150% that of Germany.

OECD Chart (assumes population of 80m for Germany and 280m for US for the year 2000)

[ Parent ]

by population or by mile/km? (nt) (none / 0) (#85)
by BCoates on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:02:19 AM EST

[ Parent ]
sorry, per capita (none / 0) (#185)
by bosk on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:58:13 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Driving in Germany (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by gleesona on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:12:36 AM EST

The German system stresses safety, therefore it is very unlikely that you will see a 1982 Chevelle with nonfunctioning brakes and no tail lights on the road

In Germany your car must go through an inspection (the TUV) every two years, and they can be very picky, especially if your car has non-approved parts installed. There is also a sticker on the license plate showing when the next TUV is due. The police like to check this when they are bored.

The roads are designed by people who have engineering degrees that come from schools without Mickey Mouse as the mascot. They are also well maintained

They are on the whole well-maintained, but a few autobahns are pretty bumpy. The problem I think is that too many have only two lanes, and should be widened. Anyone who's tried to get to Munich at the weekend using the A8 or A9 will know what I mean.

I've not found the Highways in the U.S too bad, it is a bit of a strain, however, to only drive at 65Mph when you are the only car on the road (apart the the cop who's hiding with his radar gun of course.:)

In short, a German spy is giving away every one of our battle plans.
You look surprised, Blackadder.
I certainly am, sir. I didn't realise we had any battle plans.[ Parent ]
UK also has one (none / 0) (#97)
by DodgyGeezer on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:13:41 AM EST

The UK has an annual Ministry of Transport test for all cars over threes years of age. I really wish they would introduce them in N. America and get some of those death traps off the road... or at least get my current pet peeve fixed: misaligned headlights that dazzle me on the highway at night (they make we want to misalign my mirrors!).

[ Parent ]
US Inspections (none / 0) (#109)
by LlamaDragon on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:13:27 AM EST

It may be a state-by-state thing, I've never lived outside Missouri, but I believe most states require an inspection every year (every two years in Missouri) on all cars/trucks/SUVs.  The problem is that it takes 10 minutes.  They check the horn, the signals, the lights.  They peer at the brakes and let you know they're getting pretty worn and you should probably replace them soon.  So while it's something it's certainly not comprehensive by any means.  Or maybe the cars I've had inspected are just so well kept that the inspector could just tell with a glance it was in beautifully road-worthy condition.


[ Parent ]

Re: Inspections (none / 0) (#176)
by wierdo on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 08:24:19 PM EST

Arkansas used to have inspections, but they realized what a joke they were and ceased requiring them. Now if your local officer sees something wrong with your car, he just gives you a fix-it ticket. (Until yearly inspections were dropped it was either a full-on equipment violation or nothing). There still seem to be about the same number of poorly maintained vehicles as before, so it seems like a good deal to me.

To be honest, I'm much more worried about the drivers. Most good drivers won't drive a car that is falling apart. The typical US driver was summed up quite succinctly, though quite inadvertently by one young would-be-driver after I had completed taking my written exam. She said "Mom, I've taken the test seven times already, why don't they just give me the license?" in a whiny voice. If that doesn't illustrate the root of the problem, I don't know what will.


[ Parent ]
Don't forget (none / 0) (#89)
by mdabaningay on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:11:14 AM EST

They have camera enforced limits on how close you can drive to the car in front. In my opinion, driving at a safe distance at 140MPH is far safer than driving 6 feet behind at 70MPH (as in the UK).

[ Parent ]
My Austrian/German experience (none / 0) (#105)
by LlamaDragon on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:52:33 AM EST

We were on a tour bus going from Salzburg to Munich and the tour guide was bragging about how incredibly safe Austrian and German highways were. Sooo much safer than American roads even though the speed limits were higher. He just kept going on about it to the point of becoming obnoxious. And then we here the bus driver swearing loudly (we had all studied up on our German swearing, naturally). There was a huge accident a ways ahead and traffic was at a dead stop. People were out of there cars peering ahead or chatting with one another. One guy was peeing in a ditch (we had a bathroom on the bus, or we may have been doing the same). And there we sat, as this horrible accident was cleaned up.

For some reason our tour guide didn't boast about the safety of German roads any more on that trip.


[ Parent ]

One accident disproves his claims? <NT> (3.00 / 2) (#204)
by Torka on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 10:33:56 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Drink driving is bad..... (1.00 / 3) (#110)
by shftleft on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:20:16 AM EST

I'll completely ignore the fact that the person who wrote this article is not American and that your post is completely offtopic and just an excuse to be a pompous German.

1) Most US-born drivers are trained in a driver's education class in high school, both taking a written driver's safety test and an on-road safety test. If this is not satisfactory for you, fuck off, don't come here, it's our country.
2) it is very unlikely that you will see a 1982 Chevelle with nonfunctioning brakes and no tail lights on the road... this car would not pass inspection in most US states, therefore you wouldn't see it here as well.
3) The roads are designed by people who have engineering degrees that come from schools without Mickey Mouse as the mascot. Pluto was my mascot.

Until the US begins to address these problems, the interstate highway system will continue to be full of terrible drivers and riddled with deadly accidents. Nice conclusion, is this a school essay Sherlock? No transportation system is perfect, I don't think this is the right forum to express your thoughts about how the German system is great and the American system sucks. Gee, I wonder how the stereotype that German people are stuck up and have no sense of humor came about?

[ Parent ]
My thoughts (none / 0) (#117)
by czar chasm on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:58:08 AM EST

I took driver's ed about three years ago in Texas.  While I was there we actually did pretty much only talk about drunk driving.  The only other thing mentioned was what signs mean.  I took neither written nor driving tests.  As far as I can tell (at least three years ago), driver's ed is not about making you a safe driver, rather making you a legal driver.

I have a friend who stayed in Germany for a year as an exchange student and while he was there he went through Germany's form of driver's education.  According to him they actually taught skill in addition to laws.  When I visited Germany myself and rode on an Autobahn, I could see the difference in the roads.  On the German road things were as described, but when I drive up I-35 home for the weekend (from Austin to Denton), there are times when the shoulders are removed and concrete barriers are placed next to the road.  Is such a small margin for error a good idea with 60+ MPH traffic going through it (the limit is 60, I rarely see anyone doing that)?
-Czar Chasm
add 2 bottles of NoDoz to email me
[ Parent ]

Of course, your reply is complete and utter bull. (4.33 / 3) (#129)
by Skyshadow on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:29:09 PM EST

While it seems likely that the original poster was, in fact, being a bit of a "pompous German", your reply is pretty much complete and utter bullshit.

Let's examine:

Most US-born drivers are trained in a driver's education class in high school, both taking a written driver's safety test and an on-road safety test. If this is not satisfactory for you, fuck off, don't come here, it's our country.

In most states, prospective drivers are required to spend a mere six hours behind the wheel with an instructor before they can apply for a license. This barely gives them the opportunity to perform most common driving manuvers once, let alone learn anything about adverse conditions, night driving, emergency or potentially dangerous driving situations, etc.

The behind-the-wheel portion of the actual driving test consists largely of simple manuvering around cones (or local city streets) and obeying the speed limit. It tests only the ability to very basically steer the car. The written test deals largely with two things: road signs and drunk driving. Any reasonably intelligent 10 year-old could pass it with no prep work.

[the '82 Chevy with bad brakes and no tail lights] would not pass inspection in most US states, therefore you wouldn't see it here as well.

Have you ever driven in the United States? States generally only inspect emissions, if any inspection is performed at all. There is no formal system for checking the functionality of a car when it is registered. This explains why you see so many rusted-out shitboxes on the road.

Now, cops do give out fix-it tickets for the obvious stuff (tail lights), but (a) usually only as a supplement to speeding or whatever tickets and (b) they don't catch the non-obvious stuff like failing brakes.

Nice conclusion, is this a school essay Sherlock? No transportation system is perfect, I don't think this is the right forum to express your thoughts about how the German system is great and the American system sucks. Gee, I wonder how the stereotype that German people are stuck up and have no sense of humor came about?

If you don't like reasonable discussion or semi-well-written posts, go back to Slashdot.

[ Parent ]

Of course, your reply is complete and utter bull. (1.00 / 1) (#142)
by shftleft on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:14:37 PM EST

Both quotes: The written test deals largely with two things: road signs and drunk driving. Any reasonably intelligent 10 year-old could pass it with no prep work. and States generally only inspect emissions are wrong and more wrong. The use of generalization and exaggeration does not prove someone's argument wrong.

If you don't like reasonable discussion or semi-well-written posts, go back to Slashdot.
(a)I never said I didn't like it, and (b) if these are the quality of responses at K5 I might as well....

[ Parent ]
The written tests in at least 4 states (none / 0) (#152)
by ceallach on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:03:39 PM EST

While a teen, I took written tests in FL and ME, and they were a joke. As an adult returning from service in Germany I took the written exam in MD, another joke. When I moved to TX I had inadvertently allowed my MD license to expire, and was therfore required to take the TX written test... surprise, surprise ... a reasonably intelligent 10 year old could have passed it after reading the 20 page study booklet once. MD only requires a vehicle inspection when title is transferred, thereafter emissions tests are all that is required till your car disentegrates around you.

More smoke! The mirrors aren't working!!!
[ Parent ]

Your links, and the IN driver's test (none / 0) (#166)
by raygundan on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:06:31 PM EST

There is a sample driving test here, which I found by clicking through the Nebraska DMV link your search turned up.


Nearly all of the questions are simple, but there are some real gems:

12. T/F: The "Blind Spot" is the area directly in front of your vehicle.

19. T/F: You may pass if a solid yellow line is on your side of a two-lane highway.

And so forth.  Not too tough.  I can personally vouch for the Indiana drivers' test, too-- it is unbelieveably simple.  When I took the test years ago, it included a question that showed a clear photograph of a "Do not enter" sign followed by a multiple choice question that read something very close to:

Which of the following things does this sign indicate?

A. Stop
B. Do Not Enter
C. Construction Zone
D. Yield

I also had to take a 5-minute driving test that included such rigorous tests of my skills as "Driving around the block at 35mph," "Remembering to stop at stop signs and red lights," "Buckling my seat belt," and "Not hitting anything".

There are no mandatory vehicle inspections in Indiana.

I have never heard of anything like a rigorous driving test in the United States.

[ Parent ]

'82 Chevelle (none / 0) (#149)
by nne3jxc on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:44:35 PM EST

Actually, the real reason you wouldn't see a rusted out 1982 Chevelle in the US is because Chevy didn't make Chevelles in 1982.
But *most* states do require a safety inspection that checks brakes, suspension components, tire wear, body rot-through, etc. Some states require the safety inspection even if they have no emissions test.

[ Parent ]
Not in reality (none / 0) (#174)
by dazol on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:46:08 PM EST

2) it is very unlikely that you will see a 1982 Chevelle with nonfunctioning brakes and no tail lights on the road... this car would not pass inspection in most US states, therefore you wouldn't see it here as well.

as much as I would like to believe this, its b.s. I can't count the number of times I bought an inspection sticker from a 'friend' because I knew my car wouldnt pass inspection.

3) The roads are designed by people who have engineering degrees that come from schools without Mickey Mouse as the mascot. Pluto was my mascot.

apparently most of the roads in texas were designed by people who's school mascot was a cow. You see, the roads were (sp) put down whereever the cows went on the (cant think of the word...moving them from grazing to sell/slaugher place). and the classes (driving/written tests included) are a joke.

[ Parent ]
My experience of Germans... (none / 0) (#123)
by oojah on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:32:33 AM EST

About a year ago I spent some time driving around Europe (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Italy, Netherlands and then back home to England).

One time I was driving down a Germany autobahn that was (as was too often the case) just two lanes wide. This meant that the inside lane (the "slow" lane") was full of trucks travelling at most 70mph and the outside lane was full of cars etc. doing whatever they wanted - upto around 100mph I guess. This meant that if you got stuck in the inside lane it was very very difficult to move into the outside lane.

The gap left between the cars was usually very small - I have to say that it was probably a smaller gap than I would have left if I was going 70mph. This was quite scary. So I was leaving more of a gap than anyody else. It was certainly not enough to prevent massive death on my part if there was an accident ahead, but it made me feel a little better.

We came to a stage where both lanes were travelling at fairly similar speeds. I still had a larger gap in front of me than most other people. There was also a large gap to my right - there was a lorry slightly ahead of me in the right hand lane with nothing behind it. I was then greeted by a german in his bmw speeding up behind the lorry and making furious gestures at me to speed up. There was at least 20 metres in front of me that I was holding everybody up by. Of course, it would have made no difference had I sped up because there was a long line of cars in front of me and the lorry.

The stupidity of some people.

Overall, I would say that the Italians lived up to the sterotype of being the craziest drivers - but the germans were crazy and high speed too, a dangerous combination.



[ Parent ]

Move right (none / 0) (#137)
by pdrap on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:36:53 PM EST

If there was an open place to your right and you weren't passing, you should have been to your right.

[ Parent ]
There wasn't (none / 0) (#203)
by oojah on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:29:43 AM EST

We were passing - the left lane was moving a bit faster than the right hand side lane. As for the "gap" on my right, sure there was a gap but I couldn't move into it without losing my bumper and the back end of the vehicle in the next lane.

[ Parent ]
Konfu5hin (none / 0) (#167)
by Abominable Abitur on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:07:00 PM EST

1) Correct, German drivers must take classes with a Professional Driving Instructor, not with a panicky parent. At least it was law when I learned to drive there, I was luckily exempt being a military dependent. 2) Very true. When a European built car is owned by an American its paperwork is coded so that it cannot be owned by a German, unless it passes a special inspection. 3) The roads in Germany are not constructed by people who were the lowest bidder, trying to make a profit by using sub-standard materials or sub-standard construction practices. Road design is dictated by Specifications given to the Engineer, and very little design leniency takes place. I could use my Mickey Mouse Engineering Degree knowledge and design the same road as a German Engineer, but if I have a McDonald's Construction Company build it, I'm going to end up with crap.

"Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
[ Parent ]
Minor additions: (5.00 / 3) (#71)
by bunsen on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:52:47 AM EST


There are 2 options here:
1. Ignore the change in ambient light levels. After all, you can see everybody else by their headlights and taillights.

2. As soon as the sun sets, turn on your high beams and leave them on until you reach your destination, the sun rises again, or you crash into something. The incredibly bright lights will illuminate your field of view for half a mile or so, and everyone else on the road is sure to see you. If you do a lot of night driving, consider installing high-discharge lamps (if you don't need to install a second alternator to power them, they're not bright enough for the serious driver). A good set of these will enable you to be seen from orbit, when properly aimed.


Water has been known to fall out of the sky onto the interstate from time to time. Whether it is falling as liquid (called rain) or ice (called snow or hail), there is only one thing you need to remember to do: Immediately slow to 10 mph. After all, you've probably never driven under such conditions before, and you don't want to slide off the road or something. This is particularly important if you are driving a sport-utility vehicle or pickup truck - you don't want to drive so fast that the dirty water on the road sprays up and gets on your sparkling clean off-road vehicle.

Don't worry about all those cars behind you. First off, you shouldn't be paying that much attention to your rearview mirrors. Secondly, they're only driving 6 inches off your bumper to make sure they can see you and each other through the rain or snow. The continuous sounding of horns are either congratulations on your safe driving practices, or people using their horns to locate each other in the darkness and haze.

Do you want your possessions identified? [ynq] (n)

Night driving and bad weather (5.00 / 2) (#92)
by Canthros on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 08:07:01 AM EST

1. Ignore the change in ambient light levels. After all, you can see everybody else by their headlights and taillights.
I just did this last weekend because my headlights went out (crappy voltage regulator) just after sunset. I drove for forty minutes in the dark doing my best to drive safely, run with traffic, and not go off the road with my four-ways blinking the whole way. Then the lights popped back on while I was passing a semi. Huh. Stupid and dangerous? Yes. But, on the upside, nothing got hit, I didn't get found by a police officer, and my night vision is better than I thought by far.
2. As soon as the sun sets, turn on your high beams and leave them on until you reach your destination, the sun rises again, or you crash into something. The incredibly bright lights will illuminate your field of view for half a mile or so, and everyone else on the road is sure to see you. If you do a lot of night driving, consider installing high-discharge lamps (if you don't need to install a second alternator to power them, they're not bright enough for the serious driver). A good set of these will enable you to be seen from orbit, when properly aimed.
And remember that a proper installation of one's high beams will get them aligned to point as close to the eyes of the driver in the opposing lane(s) as possible: you wouldn't want for the oncoming traffic to be unable to see you, right?
Whether it is falling as liquid (called rain) or ice (called snow or hail), there is only one thing you need to remember to do: Immediately slow to 10 mph.
Alternately: drive as normal, with extra attention to tailgating and last minute braking, especially if driving a Jeep, pickup or SUV (foud wheel drive not required: a truck's a truck, right?).

It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
[ Parent ]
Wow. (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by rapha on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:29:47 AM EST

Now lemme get this straight: You Americans are not allowed to go any faster than 50MPH (~80KM/h?) on a road system where you are doing hundreds of miles long journeys?

I mean, maybe I'm a bit too German here, but although I only drive a 13 year old Opel Kadett that doesn't go faster than 180KM/h I can hardly restrain from going any slower than 160KM/h on the autobahn...



not anymore (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by BCoates on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:00:39 AM EST

Now it's usually 55 around/in cities, 65-75 in open areas (mph) but there is reigonal variation, and people usually drive a uniform 10 or so mph faster than the speed limit.

Benjamin Coates

[ Parent ]

I see... that's bearable then :-) (none / 0) (#88)
by rapha on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:39:46 AM EST


[ Parent ]
Well, it's very simple, you see. (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by kitten on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:11:23 AM EST

If a road is safe to travel 80mph on, the speed limit will say 60. If the road is safe to travel 60 on, the speed limit will say 40.

When the speed limits are set at artificially low velocities, they will be ignored. You're quite right - at the posted speed, it would take three weeks just to get across the city. Therefore everyone speeds, because the road conditions are perfectly safe to travel 20mph over the limit.

Then the cops can come give you a ticket and the court can charge you $200 and make more money. Hooray for revenue generation!
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
Cause and Effect (none / 0) (#180)
by kholmes on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:20:49 PM EST

Or maybe the speed limits are low because they know people are going to drive five to ten miles faster no matter what the speed limit is.

If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
[ Parent ]
No way. (none / 0) (#190)
by kitten on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 12:59:24 AM EST

The speed limits are set low for revenue generation and for no other reason. If I think a road is safe to travel 50 on, knowing my skill, the conditions, and my car's abilities, then I will do 50. And that's how everyone does it. If the speed limit is SET at 50, I'm not going to go faster just to spite the limit. I drive as fast as I think it safe. Period.

I'm sorry, but on the many level, straight roads around here where visibility stretches to the horizon, I don't see why I should be required to crawl along at 40mph when it would be safe to do 60 or possibly even 70, depending on the car and driver. (This is, by the way, no mere hyperbole - such roads exist around here, with 40mph limits, and are favorite hangouts for cops with radar guns. Why? Because they know that everyone speeds on these particular roads. And why does everyone speed on these roads? Because it's safe to do so, that's why - the inane speed limit notwithstanding.)
mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
[ Parent ]
California roads with realistic speed limits..... (none / 0) (#197)
by ckm on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 04:22:04 AM EST

There are plenty of roads in CA that have realistic speed limits.  I would challenge you to even drive the speed limit on certain stretchs of Route 1.

In fact, I've seen more realistic speed limits in CA than any other state.   But 65-70 on I5 (straight, fields on either side for 500 miles) is crazy.  It's also a cop favorite.

And if you've ever driven from Reno to Las Vegas on 395 in Neveda, well, that gives new meaning to revenue generation.   There are spots where the limit goes from 70 -> 25 with NO warning.  And there is often a cop right there to give you a ticket.  A mile later, it goes back up to 70....

Yes, speeds in the US are driven by revenue, not safety.  The original 55 mph speed limit was for limiting gas consumption, not safety.  

And the 'modern' way of setting speeds is to put out those big white radar speed guns with driver feedback and a sign saying "Speed Limit 35, Your Speed Is".  Hardly either a fair measure or even remotely scientific.


[ Parent ]

from what I've read (none / 0) (#112)
by shrubbery on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:24:53 AM EST

Germans are alot more disaplined in driving especially with lane changes. That plus the driving test is a lot more rigorous. Seriously, getting a driver's license is a joke here. I live in NJ, with one of the highest traffic densities and a very extensive huge highway system. I got my license with a 15 minute driving exam and a 30 or 45 minute written part. I learned nothing except how to parallel park and signal. Vehicle dynamics? Had to learn on my own.

Oh yes, hats off to your country's fine autos. I love my little Deutschmobile!

[ Parent ]

woohoo (none / 0) (#120)
by fenix down on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:20:51 AM EST

Ahh, the NJ MVS. Got above a C on an oh-so-easy-to-cheat-on multiple choice quiz in 10th grade, came back 2 years later, circled the parking lot twice, found out the last guy had crushed the parking cones and went back to pick up my license so I could pull out onto one of the worst highways in the northeast.


[ Parent ]

Hey rusty, ":-)" is not a legal subject! (none / 0) (#121)
by rapha on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:22:20 AM EST

Hmm. None of the online dictionaries I know of knew about 'disaplined'. What's it mean?

My driving test could indeed have been called 'rigorous'; there's a little anecdote to it: On the day before (had it on Monday, so Sunday), my aunt came by and brought some stuff with her. Chocolate to cheer me up, vitamin-C sweatmeats so I could concentrate better, aaand "Rescue drops", some Bachbluten compound. I knew and know that you usually only give these to people who are heavily wounded, either physically or psychically. But if my aunt thought I should take them, it would probably best to do so. She dissolved them in a glass of water and told me to take a nap whenever I'd enter the room. By 10pm the glass was empty and I went to bed. By 7am the next morning I got up again, after a night possibly spent in a middle world, neither here nor there. Throughout the test I was as in trance, palms sweating, heart beating, but still passed it. Kind of one funny experience...

What kinda 'Deutschmobile' do you have?


[ Parent ]

She gave you what? (none / 0) (#153)
by hershmire on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:11:36 PM EST

In all my years I have never heard of anything called sweatmeats. Perhaps I'm ignorant, but it sounds completely inedible. Could you perhaps fill me in?
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
Erm.... (none / 0) (#157)
by rapha on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:51:00 PM EST

Candy? Goody? Bonbon? You know, that small thingies, mostly kind of round, and you suck on them.

Hey, I'm only German, all my English comes from listening to you native guys and reading dictionaries.


[ Parent ]

Perhaps a stupid question... (none / 0) (#169)
by Stoutlimb on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:28:48 PM EST

But where's the beef?

Candied meat...  like in jellied hams?  Sweet beef jerky?  I'm confused...

[ Parent ]

Actually, (none / 0) (#196)
by rapha on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:54:28 AM EST

I'm actually beginning to wonder now why nobody seems to be familiar with that word. Despite of it being easily understood (you know what 'sweet' means, aswell as you know what 'meat' is, so this is 'sweet meat' so in other words some form of candy) it is also not THAT uncommon. Here's an example recipe: http://www.eatdangerously.com/thorough_cook/sweets/sweetmeat_tarts.html

About the 'candy' stuff, as mentioned above already, isn't that more some kind of umbrella term for all kinds of sweet things? What I'm looking for is just ONE specific kind. Lemme find yer a picture.
(There you can even see how they're made)

Hershmire: So schlecht ist dein deutsch garnicht mal :-), immerhin versteht man es. It's always funny to see that people only get tought the polite form when learning Germany (Sie instead of Du), especially because that's bound to completely different things in English...


[ Parent ]

Thank you. (none / 0) (#220)
by Stoutlimb on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 06:20:16 PM EST

The sites are most informative.

However, what meat is used?  The site doesn't explain this...  Pork?  Chicken?  Cow?  Fish?  What is customary, and what tastes best?

[ Parent ]

Not sure whether your're being ironical now... (none / 0) (#233)
by rapha on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 11:24:44 AM EST

...but I believe 'meat' is just so to speak.


[ Parent ]
I believe we've veered off topic, but... (none / 0) (#246)
by chickenman on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 12:37:40 AM EST

Sweetmeats are any sweet foods prepared with sugar or honey, so your wording is correct. This might confuse things, but Sweetbreads are the pancreas or thymus glands of calves and young beef animals. Sweetmeat is not a commonly used term in America, so American people hear sweetbread (and they think of something disgusting.)

The candy you pictured could be referred to as a confection, rock candy, hard candy, candy, sweets - or dozens of other things.

Back to the original topic, I live in Texas and I don't think people have to take a physical driving test anymore. There is still a written test, but any idiot could pass that. Students used to be required to take a six month class to learn about driving safety, but now kids just have to have a parent sign a waiver that supervision will be provided. Once that original step has been passed, driving proficiency will never again be tested formally (unless you move to another state.) You may mail in your check and paperwork, and the license renewal will be mailed to you.

Every day's commute is an experience on I-45.

[ Parent ]

Ah, you mean nipples? :) (1.00 / 1) (#170)
by petis on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:29:46 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Entschuldigen (3.00 / 3) (#182)
by hershmire on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:48:58 PM EST

Ich wuesste nicht, dass Sie Auslander sind. In dieser Situation, "candy" ist am besten.
Und ihre Englisch ist ganz besser als meine Deutsch, glaube ich. :)
FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
[ Parent ]
Protecting YOU from YOU (none / 0) (#184)
by MicroBerto on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:24:16 PM EST

Well, if you haven't yet noticed, a major recurring theme in America is that the government must protect YOU from YOU.

You can't do drugs, or drink underage -- They know that you can't handle yourself.

You must wear a seatbelt and a safety helmet - God forbid you take a risk at the risk of... your own life?

...Things like that, I'm sure the goons on this site can rattle off a hundred of em. Welcome to a society that holds a society in contempt for being too stupid for the rest of the society.

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

Almost nobody drives the speed limit (none / 0) (#208)
by ranchdudes on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 01:08:01 PM EST

From what I have noticed driving around the USA, almost no one drives the speed limit. But people do not speed much either. Typically, driving speeds are higher on highways in cities than rural highways under same conditions (maybe city folks are more impatient). City roads are also more congested, so the speed variance is lower.

On a city highway with a speed limit of 55mph, the traffic flows at about 70 outside of rush hour. People driving significantly faster are rare. On a country highway with a speed limit of 65, the traffic in the right lane flows at about 70 as well (including big rigs). The left lane is faster. There are people that drive what I consider normal speeds of about 75-85 mph (120-140 kmph), but they are few (maybe 20%).

What I like to do is drive around 80mph when I can't see if there are cops around, and faster when I am certain that cops aren't around - very rarely someone passes me then. I use cruise control when possible. Too bad I have a crappy American car (hey, it was cheap) that can't safely drive faster than 110mph. During holidays cops have safety action days (ticket days), so then I drive slower.

In some states the speed limit is 70mph. For example a highway that goes from Indiana to Michigan changes the speed limit from 65 to 70 on the border. I never noticed a difference in driving speeds.

On highways there often are work zones where the speed limit is lowered, often to 45mph (~70kmph) and large signs are posted warning you about possible tickets and jail time (signs are not a large as in Canada). Again people rarely slow down if there are no obstructions on the road like lane changes or shoulder driving. If workers are present, I think people do slow down somewhat.


[ Parent ]

Driving in Spain... (none / 0) (#84)
by nordicfrost on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 06:01:24 AM EST

Sometimes, I drive in the rather nice country of Spain, and also in the country of Euskadi. Common for those countries are the insane driving styles and excessive speed.

Once, I was in Bilbo (Capital of Euskadi) and had to go to IruŮea (Pamplona) as fast as humanly possible. Fine, I went in my cousin's CitroŽn BX TD and had a cruising speed of 175 km/h on the freeway. Several hundred meters of on-ramp and straight lines of road. No prob!

But the I had to drive on the N-340 in south Spain. Jesus tap-dancin' Christ! The on-ramp was a stop sign and 5 (count 'em; five!) meters of on-ramp. On the motorway, the average speeds was in the neighbourhood of 140 km/h on a two-lane, pot-holed, extremely curvy road. Getting on that motorway is literally playing with your life. Oh, did I mention the people don't turn on the lights? Even at night? Insane spanyards...

Nitpicks (none / 0) (#187)
by Banjonardo on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 12:45:23 AM EST

Sorry about the nitpicking, but:

Bilbao, not Bilbo, is the capital of the Basque country. (Euskal, in their language, Euskara.)
I like Muffins. MOLDY muffins.
[ Parent ]

Correction to Nitpick (none / 0) (#201)
by pmc on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:23:41 AM EST

Basque Country - Euskadi

Basque Language - Euskera

Basque Capital - Vitoria-Gasteiz

Basque Spelling of Bilbao - Bilbo

Your nitpicking is sorry (and about 100% inaccurate).

[ Parent ]

From the Hanoi driving academy (4.00 / 2) (#91)
by bankind on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:37:48 AM EST

Your horn produces a magical suit of armour around you and creates all the driving space you need---more powerful than signals, and more convenient than stopping at red-lights.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman

Babes on tricycles... (5.00 / 4) (#94)
by Quixote on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 08:31:45 AM EST

You guys are babies compared to the real drivers, Indians (in India). Here are some tips for driving in India:
  • Driving on the left side of the road is a suggestion, not mandatory. You can drive on whichever side that is less crowded. Its called "optimum utilisation of resources".
  • The horn is an excellent wireless communication device. It can convey all sorts of messages: watch out, can I pass, comin' through, etc. I don't know why people bother with WiFi and Bluetooth, when the Indians can do so much with their horns. Also, the louder the horn, the more 'communicative' you can be, which makes you a safer driver.
  • Speed limits are ... what?
  • A traffic signal without a traffic cop is just a blinkenlight thats meant to be ignored.
  • A rickshaw going at 3mph has as much right to be on the highway as an 18-wheeler with a full load. Its called "socialism".
  • Garish paintings of Indian movie actresses and assorted decorations on your vehicle (used loosely here) help you get noticed, leading to more safety.

Having lived in Indonesia (none / 0) (#99)
by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:25:08 AM EST

It sounds pretty much the same, however you forgot a few...

  • U-Turns are acceptable at any intersection and non-intersection
  • When driving in the oncoming lane and the oncoming traffic is a large dump truck barreling at you at high speed, accellerate so that you can quickly move back into the correct lane just before a head on collision.  (Very common)
  • When driving on narrow streets with dranage ditches on either side, be sure to accelerate when passing other motorists and pedestrians with no room to spare.
  • Adolescent boys sometimes act as traffic cops, they will walk out in the middle of traffic stop the hurdling cars and wave you through for about .02 - .05 US cents/Euros).

      You have to remember, while places like India are crazy, atleast they all follow a relatively considerate protocol.  Many US interstate drivers are either dimwitted or assholes for no apparant reason.

    [ Parent ]

  • Indonesia (none / 0) (#179)
    by 668 on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:17:14 PM EST

    Did you mention putting the enitire family on one motorbike?

    [ Parent ]
    Delhi is the place to drive cars in India ;) (none / 0) (#113)
    by yora on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:31:14 AM EST

    You forgot to add these:

    • The moment the signal turns green, you should zoom ahead and make sure that your car is the first one off the block.
    • Lookout for the cows on the roads.
    • Never use your turn signals.
    • Make sure that you pass every car, weave through the traffic.
    • Watch out for the potholes.
    • Drive with your headlights on high beam.
    • Don't let the ambulance pass you, or if you let it pass you consider it a ticket for you to drive through red lights.
    • What is a STOP sign?
    • Play music loud enough that people in the next car can hear it properly.

    Here in Delhi, people actually follow all these rules.

    [ Parent ]
    These suggestions are DANGEROUS. (2.13 / 15) (#96)
    by Phillip Asheo on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:03:07 AM EST

    This is a joke, right ? These suggestions read like a list of what NOT to do. I hope nobody reading this takes it seriously and kills themselves as a result of your poor advice.

    "Never say what you can grunt. Never grunt what you can wink. Never wink what you can nod, never nod what you can shrug, and don't shrug when it ain't necessary"
    -Earl Long

    Sarcasm on K5 (2.50 / 2) (#106)
    by shftleft on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:01:14 AM EST

    Why is it that every time there is an essay with sarcasm someone has to point it out?

    [ Parent ]
    I think (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by BLU ICE on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:29:24 AM EST

    That was meta-sarcasm.

    "Is the quality of this cocaine satisfactory, Mr. Delorean?"
    "As good as gold."

    -- I am become Troll, destroyer of threads.
    It's like an encyclopedia...sorta: Everything2

    [ Parent ]

    Ahh... (none / 0) (#151)
    by shftleft on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 03:01:18 PM EST

    But was my post meta-meta-sarcasm? :)

    [ Parent ]
    It's simple. (none / 0) (#127)
    by Canthros on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:25:01 PM EST

    We're idiots. All of us.

    It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
    [ Parent ]
    Additions (none / 0) (#98)
    by czth on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:18:19 AM EST

    Thanks to the many who provided additional material; I wish I'd seen it while the story was in edit and been able to incorporate it. However, with your permission (snacky, DeadBaby, bunsen, and jethro and pyramid termite; unfortunately the last two were in editorial comments, but I snarfed them to a file), I'll add the material to the version I archive on my own site, with credit where due.

    To all who wrote about driving in other countries (especially the Saudia Arabia thread; my gf wasn't happy with the "It must be safer, they don't let women drive" comment at all, but I got a real kick out of it ;): I wrote about what I know, but it's nice to know what to expect when driving in the rest of the world. I also hear that Rome is really bad too (ancient, narrow streets; close that door or lose it...), from a friend that went there on an exchange to learn Italian.

    Oh, and to Philip, the guy that said "These suggestions are DANGEROUS", well, all I can say is that maybe one day you'll learn to recognize satire when it walks up to you and whacks you with a clue-by-four....


    Saudi (none / 0) (#132)
    by odaiwai on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:56:46 PM EST

    I worked with a guy in Saudi who'd flown choppers in 'nam, been a cop in LA and a cowboy in nevada.

    He was scared every time he got behind the wheel.

    It was terrifying.  The company used to give out prizes for six months and over without being in an accident.

    You always carried the name and phone number of you 'Government Relations Officer'  (i.e. chief briber).

    -- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
    [ Parent ]

    Subways (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by Silent Chris on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:28:12 AM EST

    I think this applies to other modes of transportation.  It certainly applies to New York City subways (which I take every day).  
    1. Always make sure you clump together with your subway buddies en mass, preferably close to platform edge.  Don't go into open areas.  
    2. Make sure, when walking from station to station, to stop suddenly in the middle of the walkway to look for directions, so that others walk into your backside and are late.
    3. As a safeguard, also learn how to say "Move it!" in several different languages, like I have.  "A dios mio!  Vamos!"
    4. Make sure to slow down and look at every advertisement/peddler/homeless person/evangelist.  They will obviously be in the subways only once in their life, and they deserve attention.
    5. Above all else, sniffle, cough, and basically act like a degenerate member of society.  Make others think there's honestly something wrong with you.  Then, when you reach topside, show them you were kidding by turning back to normal.

    Contribute to the local police (none / 0) (#119)
    by lonemarauder on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:02:06 AM EST

    Don't forget to contribute when you see a local law enforcement contribution area. This will be clearly marked with orange and white barrels on the sides of the road. Although the number of lanes and path of motion are unaffected, the presence of the orange barrels causes a reduction in the local speed limit by up to 40%.

    Do you part and maintain speed so that you can meet with the local collection agent and pay your toll ^H^H^H^H ticket.

    On a similar note (4.50 / 2) (#125)
    by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:59:42 AM EST

    If you see a law enforcement officer on the side of the road, who has someone pulled over and is in the process of writing a thank you note for their contribution to society, it is your civic duty to SLAM on your brakes without warning. Slow down to about 20 miles below the speed limit, so you and those behind you can observe the contribution process in detail. Whatever you do, do not drive past a pulled over car without slowing down, gawking your head and swerving. This would show that you don't care about the plight of law enforcement officers, who risk their lives every day while hiding in bushes and giving out tickets.

    jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
    [ Parent ]
    On Road Painting and Repair in Boston (5.00 / 1) (#124)
    by jforan on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:56:41 AM EST

    On Paint:
    Nobody uses those things non-Bostonians call "lains" here - clearly marked roads are for sissies.  Plus, "lains" make people less comfortable when they encounter double and triple parked cars - with "lains", you would have to put your blinker on and the switch "lains" rather than just being able to swerve and squeeze.  

    Think how confusing Kenmore Square would be with paint!  It is nice now, cuz it looks like we actually have a big Baseball Stadium with all that clogged up traffic.

    Paint should really only be used for preventing smooth flowing traffic and obfuscating construction traffic.  Three clear "lains" is too easy for the average Boston driver.  Occasionally, make two of the "lains" converge into one and have the remaining "lain" split into two.

    Always paint exactly the opposite of what signs say traffic will do.  If the sign says two "lains" go straight and one "lain" goes right, paint the road exactly the opposite.

    If it seems no interesting road-painting can be done, one can always make one "lain" a little narrower than the average car, while enlarging the other lane.  Kinda like a luxury lane.

    If there is construction and "lains" need to be rerouted, there is no need to cover the old paint up - how wasteful!  Just assume that drivers will realize that your new construction "lains" are the ones they should use; they can just ignore the old ones.

    On Road Repair:
    Since the city is not at fault for accidents due to faulty roads, most potholes created by plows don't really need to be repaired until the following October or November.  Don't forget, construction workers can leave potholes too!

    If a road looks too smooth, tear it up.  Grooved pavement is much more fun to drive on than smooth pavement.  Make sure there are large extruding manholes in the middle of the torn up roads and freeways so that drivers have something to keep them entertained.  Occasionally paint a dot of bright pink paint on some of the manholes so as to make drivers think that all of the mahholes have the same mark.  Tearing up a road is also a very good way to remove those "lain"-things, if necessary.

    Avoid all city road construction until the schools are back in session, because that way the construction can clog up 30% more people.  Additionally, road construction should always be scheduled between the hours of 7 am and 10 am, or, alternatively, between 3pm and 7pm, for maximum visibility.

    Because all road repair requires a police officer to be present, it is safe to perform repairs in even the most awkward of locations - like in the middle of busy (and hopefully unpainted) roads and intersections.  The trained officer will be able to handle any traffic situations that arise.


    PS:  You are not supposed to drive 45 miles per hour on an on ramp onto a busy parkway or expressway.  You are supposed to slowly proceed to the end of the ramp, accumulating as many cars as possible behind you, and then come to a complete stop.  After stopping, turn on your left blinker.  People now know what you are about to do.  Stopping allows you to get a good view of all the cars on the road that are now whizzing by you so that when you pull out, you can see how quickly they have to slow down to avoid hitting you.  It's a good physics lesson for everybody.

    I hops to be barley workin'.

    Lessons from Worcester, Mass (4.66 / 3) (#131)
    by skintigh on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 12:51:46 PM EST

    If your city only has enough money to fix half the roads, use the ingenious Worcester Solution!  Instead of fixing half the roads, do half a repair job on all the roads.  During the next 4 year cycle of funding appeal to get the other half of funds.

    Now, perhaps you are wondering what I mean by "half a repair job. I of course mean:

     o Shred all the pavement off, exposing the top 5 inches of manholes
     o Create new potholes, leave them and the old ones for the next four years
     o Create the occasional sinkhole and put yellow cones around it.  Don't worry if the hole is larger than half the road, it can wait.  I swear all of this is true.

    Now, for those of you not familiar with Worcester (lucky ducks) here is a brief history lesson.  Worcester had a really bad storm one year.  I think it was in the 30s.  Every tree blew down, except the ones that are older than this or that amazing fact.  Telephone poles blew down, too, I guess, and so did buildings.  To this day, there are two rules for all the city of Worcester:

     o Buildings may not be taller than 3 stories, expect for certain special ones.
     o Telephone poles on public land are ILLEGAL

    The result of this is:

     o 6 story buildings on WPI's campus have floors 3, 2, 1, basement, sub basement 1, sub basement 2.
     o There are about 50 manholes per 100 feet of road for all the power and phone lines.

    Now, imagine driving down a road with that many potholes, all of them sticking up far higher than is necessary to pop a tire, and probably high enough to break an axle.  Now imagine few of them are painted bright colors as there are too many.  Now imagine intersections where there are 3 lanes (straight, no turn) at one side of the light and 2 lanes at the other and this is somehow supposed to work with no paint and lot of pot holes.  Now imagine the lowest forms of human existence driving buicks from the 80's or new SUVs at high speeds while talking on cell phones and yelling at their kids.  What you have is the "Worcester Game."  It's like pinball, but with a car.

    Exceptional things I have witnessed:

     o A lady exiting a parking lot cut off not one, not two, not three, but FOUR lanes of traffic at ONCE!!!  She did this by exiting and crossing 4 lanes on a busy road.  I guess she was impatient.  That should be an Olympic event it was so amazing.
     o People drive the limit past cars waiting in the left turn only lane.  This is amazing because usually some Worcester trash will get tired of waiting and swerve into the next lane without looking.  I *guarantee* you will witness an accident like this if you visit Worcester.
     o A lady in an old Buick try to pass a car on the right, in a one lane road, while that car makes a right turn (which he signaled), by driving up on the sidewalk, without slowing down, of course.  This was extra amazing as I was the guy trying to make a right turn.  She didn't make it.

    I agree. (5.00 / 1) (#143)
    by bakuretsu on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:16:08 PM EST

    I have driven around the WPI campus and surrounding area quite a bit in my day, and I have never seen roads in such disrepair in a supposed urban area.

    Sure, country roads are supposed to be shitty, paved with gravel, and ill-maintained; but in the heart of Worcester, you can see all that and more.

    What rings especially true to me is your description of the manhole covers. It's true that there are an inordinate number of manhole covers jutting 2, 3, 4, 5 inches up out of the pavement.

    I don't think I have anything nice to say about the roads in Worcester at all. Hm.

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]

    Well, the roads around WPI aren't a good sample (none / 0) (#159)
    by jw32767 on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:13:53 PM EST

    Admittedly Boynton and Institute were really, really bad durring my recent stay at WPI, but once you get off of Highland and start heading downtown or away from the ghet^H^H^H^H Clark things start clearing up.  I think the roads around WPI are so shitty because the city hates the school with a passion.

    Krups, not only can they shell Paris from the Alsace, they make good coffee. - georgeha

    These views are my own and may or may not reflect the views of my employer.
    [ Parent ]
    Lessons from Texas, by someone from Boston (5.00 / 2) (#133)
    by skintigh on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:13:07 PM EST

    Ok, Texas has an advantage or two over the Boston area.  Namely, no one-way bridges (OMFG do those suck) and no paved over cow paths.

    Thus, things should be easy in TX, right?

    Tell that to the lady on the cell phone in her Expedition with three broken tail lights and the left turn signal on making a right turn from the left lane without looking.

    Here are some general TX rules:
     o Turn signals should only be used as decpetive counter measures.
     o NEVER pay attention.
     o When encountering a yield sign do one of the following:
       a) What's a yield?
       b) Approach it at 45 mph, then slam on your breaks and come to a COMPLETE stop.  Wait to be rear ended and then act surpized and cry and scream.  If rear-ended, don't move your vehicle off the road, wait until the damage heals or cops show up an hour later.  If you don't get rear ended, wait.  Wait up to 5 minutes if you have to.  It doesn't matter if there are huge breaks in traffic, or if you didn't even need to slow down, never mind stop.  Just sit there and wait until God himself appears before you and tells you it is safe to merge.

    Roads here are weird.  The off ramp merges to a 3 lane frontage road, but the one lane off ramp has the right of way, so there is a yield for the 3 lanes.  Most Texans come to a dead stop and wait until the highway is empty, which occurs around 2 AM.  I pass them on the right.

    Now, when entering the highway, one might think these mostly over-yielding Texans would be very polite.  No, they seem to expand the frontage yield idea onto the highway and follow the rules you explain - enter extremely slow, cut off peoeple without looking.

    I swear I am going to buy an airhorn.  Pep boys had one for $40.

    Oh, and one other rule in Texas: when not driving a 5 mpg vehicle all by yourself, pack as many kids as possible into your truck, don't tell them to wear their seatbelts as the law requires, and get into a highly predictable accident that results in your SUV entering a highly predictable roll in which everyone is predictably thrown from the vehicle and many die.


    Texas driving... not so friendly? (none / 0) (#160)
    by denzo on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:53:26 PM EST

    I've driven through Texas once in my lifetime (a little more than a year ago). I hope to keep it that way.

    I found the offramp lane having the right-of-way interesting. The first time I exited an interstate, I stopped at the 3-way intersection because, well, there were cars coming from the other directions and I was at an offset angle (being an offramp). I didn't know any better and stopped for a few seconds, then realized that the other two cars were stopped and not moving (this is the first and only time I've seen Texas drivers fully obeying the law), and I saw the yield sign and went "Oh" and drove through.

    And I found out that in Texas, when you hear sirens behind you, you're supposed to go faster than the emergency vehicle so that you don't impede on its abilities to get to its destination. Pulling over is a no-no, since you'll eat up 2 gallons of gasoline (or diesel) just to accelerate back up to highway speed in your oversized truck. And if you find someone going the speed limit, kindly escort that vehicle off the paved roadway to make room for yourself and your truck buddies to protect the ambulance.

    So much for the "drive friendly" state.

    [ Parent ]

    Lessons not learned in Thailand? (5.00 / 1) (#135)
    by skintigh on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:18:36 PM EST

    Okay, one last rant.  Someone explin this for me.

    Many claim Bangkok has the worst traffic.  While a friend did get hit by a motor bike while trying to cross the street, and while the traffic was nuts, it seemed much safer than Boston.  Much more orderly.

    However, go north.

    Picture this: we're on a public bus with the AC way to high at midnight going quite fast with little TV's around the bus playing some video of a girl tied to a bed screaming while being fucked as we travel at very high rates of speed down a unlit 2 lane highway passing log trucks around a blind turn in the wrong lane playing chicken with oncoming fully loaded logging trucks.

    I'm not sure what I learned there other than how to pray.  Maybe someone else can explain how that works.

    kentucky traffic lights (none / 0) (#136)
    by Shren on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:20:54 PM EST

    1. Red : Stop
    2. Green : Go
    3. Yellow : Slam on the gas

    Bad (5.00 / 1) (#146)
    by hardburn on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:24:20 PM EST

    They always told you in drivers ed to slow down on yellow. The correct way to do it is to slam on the gas when you know it's about to turn yellow. That way you won't be able to slow down when it goes yellow anyway, so you're safe for speeding right through.

    If you're not sure when it's going to turn yellow, here's a hint: watch the pedestrian signals. In most areas, the pedestrian signal starts blinking red about 5-10 seconds before the car lights are about to switch.

    while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

    [ Parent ]
    a little word on accidents (5.00 / 1) (#138)
    by toddgearhart on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 01:44:24 PM EST

    from a driver in PA:
    • accidents only happen to stupid people, which does not include yourself
    • when approaching an accident, even if it on the other side of a divided highway, one must slow to roughly the speed of a spotted turtle. doing so allows the drivers behind you to notice something is wrong.
    • whilst you are slowed to a near stop, it is helpful to stare at the accident scene. by staring, you are able to learn more details about the accident, which will help you become a safer driver.
    • if emergency vehicles are there, remember to call 911. the dispatchers love the load test of many safe drivers like you all on the phone lines. other injured people won't mind waiting to talk to a dispatcher.
    yes... I've seen all this behavior, and I've been to an Emergency dispatch center. they routinely will get as many as 5-10 calls for the same interstate accident.

    Anyone on the road (5.00 / 2) (#148)
    by memerot2 on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:43:21 PM EST

    Anyone on the road who is going slower than me is a fucking idiot.

    Anyone on the road who is going faster than me is a reckless maniac.

    No wonder I hate everybody :)

    Driving rules (none / 0) (#150)
    by www.sorehands.com on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 02:52:17 PM EST

    1. Go from point A to point B in the least amount of possible time, and God Damn everyone else.

    2. If in doubt, see rule 1.

    Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.

    A still-better driving strategy (none / 0) (#161)
    by John Miles on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 05:01:42 PM EST

    "Drive like you actually want to get where you're going."

    I'm fairly certain that traffic would flow a lot more smoothly if people would only follow my advice.  Failing that, though, I actually prefer the company of people who follow your tongue-in-cheek advice than, say, the drivers in Seattle, where the Golden Rule seems to be "Screw you.  I brake for no reason on God's green earth."

    For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
    [ Parent ]

    The Interstate (5.00 / 1) (#158)
    by faustus on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 04:10:50 PM EST

    You Americans really do know how to build roads. One of my biggest envies is the signs that read: "the left lane is for passing only". Up here in Canada we don't seem to have these signs and people assume the left lane is for getting older.

    If any American's are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, bring your guns. A favorite pastime of the 85 year old population is to find someone going 70km/h in the right lane, then come up beside them in the left lane and go the same speed.

    The goal of this is to create a 40 car pack of cars, half of which are incredibly irrate in their dwindling changes of catching the ferry.

    Are they from the area? (none / 0) (#168)
    by skintigh on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:18:58 PM EST

    NH drivers do that in MA, MA drivers do that in NH. What gives? Maybe borders are actually rifts in the universe and cuase strange things to happen to drivers. Or maybe it has something to do with tourists. Or maybe old people just can't drive.

    [ Parent ]
    you must be lucky (none / 0) (#213)
    by Xtacy on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:44:11 PM EST

    Out here in the lower part of Ontario, I drive every weekend to Niagara Falls.  Everytime on the way there, there is always americans (mostly new york) they ALL end up in the left lane, doing their 100-110 km/h annoying the hell out of everyone behind them.

    Worse yet, they get a break in the middle lane and don't care, they just stay right where they are like they are the only ones on the road.  It's frustrating.

    [ Parent ]

    Alaska (none / 0) (#171)
    by Abominable Abitur on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:29:55 PM EST

    Things I learned very quickly after I started driving here: 1. Vehicles larger than yours will take Right of Way whether they had it legally or not. 2. Vehicles the same size as yours will take Right of Way whether they had it legally or not. 3. Leave an hour earlier or an hour later than normal the first snow of the season to avoid being rear-ended. Also if it hasn't snowed for two weeks. Also if there is ice on the road. Also if it's raining and there is ice on the road. Hell, just leave early or late every day from Sept. to May or until everything melts. 4. One way traffic doesn't mean the same thing as it does in other parts of the country. 5. Do not assume that the person nosing out into the roadway won't go just because they can't see. 5b. Don't assume that if they pull out in front of you they'll try to speed up to avoid being run into. 6. Stay behind the snowplow. 7. State law says you have to pull over to aid someone who has been in an accident. It doesn't say you can't laugh at them and call them an idiot because they passed the snowplow and ended up in the ditch, but try to see if they're not hurt first.

    "Terrorism is only a viable "political activist" method for marginalized nutjobs, bottom line. The backlash that it causes makes it intractable for any reasonable ideology. Which is why you don't generally see wild athiest suicide bombers in america's streets." - lonelyhobo
    9 mph over (none / 0) (#175)
    by MicroBerto on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 07:56:24 PM EST

    Under no circumstances should you exceed this limit. It doesn't matter that only once in the history of the world has anyone been pulled over for doing less than 10mph over the limit; it's there for your safety so observe it.

    And that one person would be my brother! In Ohio, driving on I-70 on his way back to college, got pulled over going 69mph in a 60. Absolutely ridiculous... it was the end of the month, and the pathetic pig must have needed his quota or something. I don't know what I would do in that situation, I would definitely lose my cool.

    - GAIM: MicroBerto
    Bertoline - My comic strip

    What does "speed limit" mean to you? (none / 0) (#178)
    by kholmes on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 10:10:41 PM EST

    Really. I don't get it.

    If you treat people as most people treat things and treat things as most people treat people, you might be a Randian.
    [ Parent ]
    60mph (none / 0) (#183)
    by MicroBerto on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 11:15:28 PM EST

    Have you ever taken a long trip going 60mph the entire way?

    Ohio police and highway patrol realize that, due to the pool of pathetic vermon that we call our state law-making bodies, a good deal of lenience should be given in said highways. This particular gunslinger obviously failed to rationalize that.

    - GAIM: MicroBerto
    Bertoline - My comic strip
    [ Parent ]

    It means "revenue enhancer". (5.00 / 1) (#194)
    by magney on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:30:43 AM EST

    Or to be more precise, enhancing revenue by being set artificially low in order to make "speeders" out of safe drivers.

    Do I look like I speak for my employer?
    [ Parent ]

    Depends. Who determines the limit? (none / 0) (#207)
    by John Miles on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 01:03:47 PM EST

    Politicians, or traffic engineers?

    For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
    [ Parent ]
    On the highway, 'limit' means little... (none / 0) (#212)
    by Parity on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:23:26 PM EST

    I was pulled over in PA for doing, oh, 85 or so... after reducing my ticket by ten mph, the officer explained that if I don't exceed 75 (posted 65) that I can drive from one end of the state to the other and nobody would bother me, but if I go past that, I was 'on my own' ...

    Most states have this as departmental policy for the highway, whether official or otherwise, and the sliding-scale tickets usually balloon at around 10mph over.

    So, if the 'speed limit' isn't obeyed by the drivers, and isn't enforced by the police (at least, as written) ... then it doesn't mean much does it?


    [ Parent ]

    28 in a 25 (none / 0) (#224)
    by wonko on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 08:03:45 PM EST

    The first time I was ever pulled over was for doing 28 in a 25, on a residential street just fifty feet from my front door. The cop let me off with a warning, but still, I thought it was pretty excessive. Coincidentally, the second ticket I ever got was for something like 34 in a 25. 9mph over.

    [ Parent ]
    Regarding your 28 in a 25 (none / 0) (#242)
    by Dephex Twin on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 04:00:06 PM EST

    Seeing as you were let off with a warning, I have a feeling that the cop wasn't pulling you over with the intention of giving you a ticket at all.  In talking to some of my friends who are cops or have cops in the family, I've been told that oftentimes a cop will pull someone over for speeding or skidding tires or whatever, and then find more important violations looking in the open areas of the car or talking to the driver.  After pulling you over and immediately telling you the true fact that you were pulled over for speeding, the cop now has established a legal excuse for pulling you over, since you can't just pull people over for no reason.

    So my guess would be this is what happened in your case.  And of course, you didn't have any other more serious things going on when the cop checked it out.  Had you gotten the ticket, my guess would have instead been that it was close to the end of the month.

    Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems. -- Homer Simpson
    [ Parent ]

    How about 60 in a 55 zone? (none / 0) (#241)
    by gsabaco on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 08:58:01 AM EST

    No kidding. I got a ticket for going 60 mph in a 55 zone. That was the last time I took the Garden State Parkway. At least the other tickets I got were vaguely normal. (Is that a good thing? I don't know)

    Of course, now that I look more like a reasonably affluent white man in a new car I no longer get tickets like I did when I looked like a poor hispanic kid in a 10 yr old beater. Want to not get tickets? Get a decent car, keep it very clean, fix any dents/scratches immediately, and if you can pass for white wear slacks and a button down shirt. (No point if you are black I'm sure, but since I'm hispanic and I never leave my house or go into the sun I can fool them...) Oh and have a light classical CD available to play before the cop gets up to your window.

    In all seriousness though, I really used to be much more tan (hence looking more hispanic) and I drove a crappy car. I got something like 4 tickets in less than two years. Then I got a new car, and started driving only related to work (where I have to dress nice, not like college) and now 4 years later I still haven't gotten any more tickets. For the first two years it was even on the same roads as before (since then I have moved), and I definately started driving faster once I got a car that didn't seem like it was going to fall apart.

    Oh well.

    [ Parent ]

    Ohio is nuts about this (none / 0) (#243)
    by fencepost on Mon Sep 09, 2002 at 07:08:13 PM EST

    I drive down there regularly, with a CB so I can get the assorted updates on where police have been seen, and everything I've heard is that basically you have to shut it down when you hit the Ohio border.
    Sherry she had big ones / Sally had some too /
    But Allison had little ones / What hate to go to school
    [ Parent ]
    What's the big freaking deal? (2.00 / 1) (#177)
    by oooga on Thu Sep 05, 2002 at 09:12:49 PM EST

    Driving on the interstate is... get this... REALLY EASY. Yes, there are plenty of blowhards who drive badly. Guess what. Interstates are BIG. They have ROOM. Room to ignore assholes in EXPEDITIONS. Stop whining and get a better sound system.

    That said, Illinois sucks. How the fuck do they get away with fucking tolls on their fucking Interstates? What the fuck?
    Taking my toast burnt since 1985

    tolls (none / 0) (#198)
    by zordon on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 06:28:30 AM EST

    there are two kinds of roads in the eisenhower interstate highway system, the tollway and the freeway. If you don't wanna pay the toll there is always regular highway for you to drive on.
    [ Parent ]
    Driving Tips (5.00 / 2) (#186)
    by rwa2 on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 12:24:12 AM EST

    Nice. Unfortunately, complaining about bad drivers doesn't do much to help the problem. However, you can try to improve your own driving to compensate.

    Probably one of the important tenets of defensive driving is to assume that most other people are bad drivers. There are a lot of stupid people in this world in general, and life is much easier to handle if you expect stupidity. Let them drive in the manner described here. The worst thing you can do is to try to "punish" them by honking or tailgating or "giving them a taste of their own medicine". It just feeds the road rage, and worse, engages you in stupid behaviour yourself. Just stay out of their way, and try to put as much distance between you and a bad driver as possible.

    A good practice is to pretend you are invisible. Never assume that a driver will check their blind spot under any circumstance. Avoid driving side-by-side with other cars, and be wary when passing, speeding up to spend as little time completing the pass as practical. Anticipate when other drivers will try to change lanes themselves, and give them space to do so even before they hit their turn signals (or not).

    Other useful tips that aren't always covered in driving school:

    • Look ahead as far down the road as you can. Take advantage of the visibility offered by our spacious concrete desert system. You're looking for brake lights, debris in the middle of the road, speed traps, anything. Brake lights may also indicate the presence of a speed trap. Don't let a damn SUV or semi block your visual information flow if you can help it.
    • Generally drive at the speed limit +9mph . This is usually fast enough to keep impatient drivers behind you from getting angry and tailgating, while slow enough to not get any points on your license if a cop does decide to pull you over. However, if everyone is going faster (70 in a 55 zone is around the norm for the DC beltway), don't be afraid to match their speed. You're safer if you don't have people zipping past you all the time. You can count the number of cars that pass you and the number of cars that you pass and make sure you stay around the 80th percentile to avoid getting pulled over. As mentioned, cops have to fill their quotas at the end of the month, so be more careful then. If a line of cars is breaking the speed limit, they'll usually pull over the first or the last one, so try to stay in the middle.
    • Stay out of the left lane when you're not passing. This also helps avoid getting caught at speed traps.
    • Be kind to semis. They're professional drivers, and will usually return the favor (or at least not treat you like scum) if you blink your lights to let them change lanes in front of you. In the mountains, they're also trying to save gas, which means they'll be coasting fast downhill to help them gain momentum up the next hill. Try not to get in their way when they're doing this, they're not intentionally trying to be aggressive.
    • Most of all, try to help other drivers get to where they want to go (even the ones that don't deserve help :P ). Don't get mad, don't get even, just laugh at the bad driving you see and try to pump in good vibes.

    Umm... (none / 0) (#195)
    by fluxrad on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:36:27 AM EST

    In the mountains, they're also trying to save gas, which means they'll be coasting fast downhill to help them gain momentum up the next hill. Try not to get in their way when they're doing this, they're not intentionally trying to be aggressive.

    Dear sweet jesus I hope you're not a professional trucker. Well, if you are, you're probably one of the guys we get to wave at as they sit and wait for someone to tow them out of the runaway truck ramp.

    Pardon my nit-picking rant, but most truckers keep it in extremely low gear on their way off a pass. They'll be going a whole helluvalot faster than on the way up (maybe 75 in a 65), but they sure as shit aren't "coasting" down the hills. And they damned well aren't going any faster than traffic.

    Idunno why i'm posting this. Maybe it just pains me the way 99% of people can't drive for shit in the mountains.

    "It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
    -David Hume
    [ Parent ]
    Ok... (none / 0) (#230)
    by coryking on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:40:30 AM EST

    I'll bite.

    What is the right way to drive in the mountains. I was not aware there was some special technique?

    [ Parent ]

    The right way... (none / 0) (#232)
    by fluxrad on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 07:37:45 AM EST

    There really isn't a "right" way to drive in the mountains. No set of rules to follow, but alot of people just don't use common sense when up their.

    Good words to live by include:

    1. 4 wheel drive == 4 wheel slide. You'd be terrifically surprised how many people i see doing 90 down Floyd Hill (here in CO) in the dead of winter. They figure somehow their SUV's can stop faster because the drivetrain is attached to both axles.

    2. Keep it in low gear. you also see a lot of people hauling ass in 5th gear down a 30% grade. Now go ask my EMT friends how many hours a year they spend looking for the remains of assholes who's breaks overheated and stopped working. Let the revs hold you back, not your breaks.

    3. A very important one. If you're from Missouri...GET IN THE RIGHT FUCKING LANE!!!!

    Of course, you probably know all these. It's not technique...it's just smart mountain driving. Or maybe it's just that too many people don't use their noggins when they're at altitude. Idunno. let's put it this way. Haven't you ever looked around when you're in the mountains and been able to point out the natives vs. the flatlanders?

    And FWIW, my original post wasn't a troll.

    "It is seldom liberty of any kind that is lost all at once."
    -David Hume
    [ Parent ]
    Wooo hooo!! (none / 0) (#234)
    by coryking on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:48:45 PM EST

    I passed your drivers test!
    1. Yes, 4wd will not save your ass. It's great for offroading, and slush - but it will not save you from ice.
    2. If I need to slow down, I'll downshift from overdrive into 4th. Usually, with my highly aerodynamic 1986 s-10 blazer, I'll usually need to give it some gas to compensate for wind drag - even down the pass. However, you are right - if it's snowing - I'll always be in 4th - even downhill*.

      If we are talking about off-roading - where I'm usually in 1'st or 2nd period.

    3. This applies everywhere.

    And no - I did not think you were a troll.

    *Rule - when it's snowing at the top of the mountain - make sure to do 40mph the *whole* way down the pass - even where it stopped snowing, there is no snow on the ground, and the pavement is dry. You can never be too careful.

    [ Parent ]

    Thanks for the good tips (none / 0) (#209)
    by ranchdudes on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 01:22:55 PM EST

    I'd add that, although being in a car creates a feeling of anonymity and feeds the asshole inside all of us (much like trolling on web boards), do not give in to the temptation of cutting people off, purposefully not letting them merge, slowing down in front of them, or not letting them pass. You are endangering the most important person around, yourself! Double that if your kids are in the car.

    [ Parent ]
    pretend *everyone else* is invisible (none / 0) (#221)
    by bfields on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 06:50:46 PM EST

    A good practice is to pretend you are invisible.

    I also think imagining that *everyone else* is invisible is a useful exercise. How would you drive if you knew there were other people all around you, but you couldn't see where they were? You'd have to telegraph your every move very clearly before you made it.

    It isn't such a totally unrealistic assumption either. I mean, of course you have to assume that you're capable of seeing and avoiding the people directly in front of you (just as you generally have to assume that people directly behind you in the same lane have probably seen you!). But it's a pretty safe bet that in any reasonably complicated traffic situation, there's *someone* in your vicinity that you don't know about.

    People who believe themselves omniscient, and depend on themselves being able to anticipate the move of every single other driver on the road, are dangerous indeed!

    --Bruce F.

    [ Parent ]
    Bad Driving Habit #532 (none / 0) (#191)
    by Canthros on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 01:23:23 AM EST

    I find this particularly irritating: signs are posted along the side of the road, informing drivers that the left (or right, as appropriate) lane will closed in one mile, so get over to the other lane now. So why do idiots speed down the highway to where the lane is closed and force their way into traffic there? It mucks up traffic flow something awful (I've sat on I-65 in southern Indiana for a couple of hours at least once because of this garbage), it's not going to get them there significantly faster, and it pisses everyone else off. It's the sort of thing that makes me be an asshole and not let people merge. Gah.

    It's now obvious you are either A) Gay or B) Female, or possibly both.
    Same on the 73 (none / 0) (#192)
    by schubert on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:13:14 AM EST

    People do this on the 73 right after the last 55 exit and in the middle of 5pm traffic. And at that point after the lane is lost it gets down to 2 lanes for a few hundred feet.. so as you can imagine its pretty choked and the line of 10 idiots in that closing lane slow the right lane to a virtual halt... so when I happen to be there at the opportune moment I take it upon myself to be a crusader for the smart drivers and I stop my car at the beginning of where that lane ends and put my blinker on... and force everyone to merge instead of speeeding up to force themselves in.... which pisses some people... and amuses some. *Shrug* at least people get through that part much better at least for 3 minutes or so after I leave until the next batch of idiots clog it up.
    -- schubert
    [ Parent ]
    Think of it as an iterated prisoner's dilemma... (none / 0) (#193)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:28:38 AM EST

    The people that get over when told are cooperating, those trying to cut in late in order to get a better position are the defectors. Now the maths tell us that it will be better for everyone in the long run if everyone plays nice and cooperates. As an agent in the game, your best strategy is something darn close to tit-for-tat.

    Thus I concluded that if someone has just defected on the people behind you and is now beside you, it is your duty to not let them profit from this. Furthermore, training someone is much harder when negative reinforcement is not consistent (learners tend to learn "bad behavior if in context X (where X is things like 'when I'm caught')" instead of the desired "bad behavior". Thus it is best not to back down or slack off in this matter.

    You are not being an asshole, you are being rational, or maybe both.

    [ Parent ]

    How is it iterated? (none / 0) (#199)
    by pexatus on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 06:30:22 AM EST

    Each time you hit a merger from two lanes to one (suppose the open lane is the right lane), you choose to defect or cooperate once. If you get in the right lane and decide to switch back out to try to move ahead in line, this is something akin to getting to decide your move after the other player decides his. To be "iterated," one must play the same opponent multiple times, not multiple opponents one time.

    For that matter, it's not even a one-shot prisoner's dilemma, because it's quite likely that no one will let the defector in up in front of the line for a while, in which case his payoff will be less than that of all the people who chose "cooperate" but who passed him without letting him in. And this is definitely not prisoner's dilemma if you can choose to change your move after seeing everyone else's, and they can do the same.

    I think your characterization of this as operant conditioning with negative reinforcement is closer to reality.

    [ Parent ]

    Good call, some answers. (none / 0) (#210)
    by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 01:27:15 PM EST

    First I think I should note that I didn't say, nor was it ever my intention to say, that it was an iterated prisoners dilemma simpliciter. I set up my reasoning about the proper course of action to take by asking that the reader think of the situation as one. It was a very good way, I thought, to set up the context, such as expected vocabulary and concepts, for the post.

    Naturally, if the post had been a paper for publication, I would have followed the simplification with the types of elaborations that you were getting at and with some treatment of just how and to what degree the position that mine was an over-simplification (as opposed to a perfectly good abstraction) is right.

    And now that I've cleared that up, I'll respond to some of the ideas in your post from this cleared-up perspective.

    The question of iteration: You are quite right that the game in question very often doesn't involve multiple rounds with the same players. However, to defend the simplification, this is quite obviously dependent on the size of the relevant pool of players. For instance, while I was living on the east coast of the USA and drove on the nice big turnpikes I doubt I ever played the same people more than once. However, I didn't drive just on the turnpike. I'm sure I played the same people numerous times on the smaller (but still complex) roads near my home. Now that I'm an area of the country with fewer people, I would think that I play some of the same people on, at least, a weekly basis (especially on the roads near where I and a good number of other people work).

    So now the paper would be talking about populations of various sizes with odds for playing between the various members.

    You are also right that one player knows the other player's move. Some sort of "turn-based" idea definitely belongs in the proper name for the game in question. Worse yet, some of the players get to decide their moves after some number of other players have made their strategy known. Each game (at one relevant scale to consider) is actually some sort of progression of smaller games with the defectors (still a good name for them) having a payoff that depends on how many of these smaller games they can win. We could try to treat those smaller games as each separate except that the defector's odds in one of them seem to depend on how the last few went and how close in time the end of the sequence is seen to be.

    Oh yeah, it gets hairy alright.

    I would dispute your empirical claim that "it's quite likely that no one will let the defector in up in front of the line for a while". After I started thinking in these terms, I, and a friend whose better at the maths for games than I, decided that we had just been guessing at the expected payoffs. We figured that it was easy enough to gather some data, so we consciously changed our driving behavior for a while. Now the sample set was small, so I'm not saying I've got any iron-clad stats behind me, but after playing defector for a few weeks and counting, my experience is that defectors can indeed expect a higher payoff. There are times when the try looses ground, sure, but overall the expectation is positive.

    Interestingly, know who lets in defectors with the most reliability? Other defectors. Which is neat because they have just put some effort into getting a good payoff, and then they are quite willing to give some of it away to help the payoff of another defector. So if you want a really devious strategy, play whatever you want normally, but if the larger game isn't too close to done, and you see another defector, jump in behind them and defect on them as your last move in the sequence. [Of course, I'm not letting in either of you damn defectors in front of me.] :)

    About the conditioning bit: Thanks, the application of the theory is a lot cleaner, I know. But I came to think about that after we had become confidence about what strategy we would want to train the other players to use and what strategy others were unthinkingly training into others.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmm... (none / 0) (#228)
    by coryking on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:36:10 AM EST

    I dont know about that. Highway's are x lanes big for a reason. I think by everybody getting over 8 million miles ahead of a lane closure actually slows things down more then if everybody merged at the end.

    This is just a hunch though. I dont know if it would be actually true or not.

    [ Parent ]

    I-40 at the I-240 exit (Memphis), every day -nt (1.00 / 1) (#200)
    by czth on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:13:10 AM EST

    [ Parent ]
    Bad Driving Habit #533 (5.00 / 1) (#202)
    by czth on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 09:24:11 AM EST

    Forgot to mention this in the article... but:

    HOV lanes

    Apparantly 'hov' is an Indian word meaning 'fast' or 'passing'....

    Something strange happened to me on the way to work today... I saw a car with more than one person in it in the HOV lane.

    (For those unfamiliar with the term, a HOV lane is a lane that's usually on the left, designated at certain times [usually 7-9am going into a city and 4-6pm in the other direction] for vehicles with 2 or more occupants; usually motorcycles are also allowed. I just discovered that HOV = "High Occupancy Vehicle" from this site.)


    only in america... (none / 0) (#222)
    by grahamsz on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 07:12:59 PM EST

    could a vehicle with more than 1 person be designated a high occupancy vehicle!
    Sell your digital photos - I've made enough to buy a taco today
    [ Parent ]
    Instructional Videos (5.00 / 1) (#206)
    by sparkles on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 12:20:37 PM EST

    Please also note that many valuable and informative driving safety videos are available at no cost to the consumer, in the form of commercials for SUVs. These are excellent instructions by example in how to drive in snow, including tricks like making the snowpack fly all up around you so you don't slip on it.

    Note, though, that to counteract visibility issues, you should always ensure that you have a map available so you know where the road is.

    And, for warmer climates, you can learn how to employ hydroplaning techniques to enhance fuel economy.

    Another lesson in the Instructional Videos (none / 0) (#215)
    by borful on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 03:37:45 PM EST

    Note the care taken in securing the cargo in the SUVs in the Instructional Videos. We must always be sure that the cargo is available to the passengers. Sometimes, the road will send a message through the vehicle's suspension that the passengers may need something from the cargo area and it will deliver the cargo for the passengers' inspection.

    - borful
    Money is how people with no talent keep score.
    [ Parent ]

    Stupid drivers (5.00 / 1) (#211)
    by Warpedcow on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 02:15:02 PM EST

    Just by two cents on some observations I made on a recent trip on I-90 across minnesota:

    On my trip west, I met a group of 3 cars going 100MPH average.  Yes, 100MPH.  I stuck myself in their midst and matched their speed.  The 4 of us always used our signals when passing and we only moved to the left lane to pass.  Even at 100MPH.  I would say that about 80% of the people we overtook did not block us (meaning, if they were in the left lane and not passing, they moved over to the right before we rear-ended them).  But theres still the other 20% that either drive 85 or 90 in the left lane and refuse to move right, or the people who take 5 minutes to pass two people.

    On my trip east (returning home) I matched speeds with one other car going 90-100mph.  Simliar results.  In particular, there was a Chevy Van who merged in front of us to pass someone and I had to slam on my brakes not to hit him.  Also, after he took 5 minutes to pass 3 guys, he stayed in the left lane until i signaled to move to the right to pass him on the right, at which point of course he moved to again block me.  It is these people who are dangerous.  Going 100MPH on that road is not unsafe, assuming you have a decent car.

    My question is: why are the slow moving cars usually the stupid, rage-causing, uncourteous, rule-breaking drivers?  All the cars I have ever seen going 20-30 over the limit follow all traffic laws (cept the limit of course!) and are very courteous to others.

    Just my two cents.

    Control freaks (none / 0) (#214)
    by borful on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 03:32:20 PM EST

    Busybodies, whatever you want to call them - there seems to be a lot of people who want to control how others behave. They just know they're right and have a moral imperative to fix society. They just know it's wrong to drive faster than X and they'll work to keep people under that speed.

    Note: X is usually ABOVE the legal speed limit. The most annoying part of this annoying behavior is the implied: "Everybody can break the law, but only as much as I do.

    It's a good thing I don't have phasers in my truck.

    Money is how people with no talent keep score.
    [ Parent ]

    No. That's just wrong. (none / 0) (#216)
    by czth on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 04:43:26 PM EST

    In particular, there was a Chevy Van who merged in front of us to pass someone and I had to slam on my brakes not to hit him. Also, after he took 5 minutes to pass 3 guys, he stayed in the left lane until i signaled to move to the right to pass him on the right, at which point of course he moved to again block me. It is these people who are dangerous.

    Drive as fast as you want - you pay your own ticket. But don't you dare have the gall to get upset at someone doing the speed limit or higher while passing someone in the left lane. You are going (by the letter of the law) too fast (whether it's safe or not is another question, and if you say you can handle it I have no cause to doubt); they are using the lane for it's proper purpose, to pass someone going slower than them and the limit. It's not there for the convenience of those going as fast as they want.

    Now, if it was literally 5 minutes, I sympathize, but I seriously doubt it. Get over yourself, you're in the wrong. And how is travelling as a block of cars courteous?

    But theres still the other 20% that either drive 85 or 90 in the left lane and refuse to move right, or the people who take 5 minutes to pass two people.

    Assuming the speed limit here is 70, then someone going 90 is going 20 over. That's plenty fast, probably faster than 95% of traffic. If I was going 90 and someone was closing from behind I'd move over if I conveniently could (e.g., it wouldn't force me to slow down because of a slow vehicle just ahead on the right), but I wouldn't feel any obligation to do so (just courtesy or perhaps "yes, please pass me, you maniac" - of course everyone is someone else'e maniac). You want to pass so bad, it's now your problem; pass me on the right if you really need to.

    And if another driver was going exactly the speed limit ahead of me, as long as they were passing someone, well, tough on me, they're keeping to the spirit and letter of the law, using the lane to pass and not going too terribly slow, so I'll slow down and wait patiently for them to pass, and give them a little space rather than breathing down their neck. Or if this driver's just driving along at 80 mph, well, same situation as above but reversed: they're going faster than most, and passing them is my problem. Hopefully they let me by, but why should they have to shift lanes because I'm in (to them) an inordinate hurry?


    [ Parent ]

    Quotes of the Trip (none / 0) (#217)
    by Denor on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 04:54:26 PM EST

    I'm a student who's done a number of co-op (that's kinda a recurring internship, for those unfamiliar) tours down in Maryland. I'm a Michigan native. With the traveling to get there in the first place and all the back/forth trips required for various other activities (i.e. girlfriend) I can definitely sympathize with this article.

    Since it's about an 8.5-10 hour trip depending on how fast you're going and where in Michigan you're coming from/going to, I tend to get a bit irate at traffic at some point. Many of the things I've yelled at traffic end up being what I like to refer to as "Quotes of the trip". Some of my personal favorites:

    For those people who can't seem to decide how fast they're going: "Pick a speed, and go it!" -

    "If only there were a way for people to signal when they're turning. Some sort of 'turning signal', if you will"

    On rubbernecking: "What now, some little girl fell off her tricycle and we're all stopping to stare?"

    "That's it. I'm revoking all your licenses."

    "In other news, the entire goddamn Pennsylvania Turnpike was under construction today as part of recent efforts to move it four feet to the left. Officials declared it a way to 'really tick Denor off'. Denor confirmed the effectiveness of the tactic, but was unavailable for further comment after running over our reporter."

    And my personal favorite:

    "Thank you, Ohio Department of Transportation! Thank you for closing that lane and thereby protecting me from the dangers of ABSOLUTELY NO CONSTRUCTION AT ALL!"


    About the speed limit (none / 0) (#218)
    by dasunt on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 05:37:21 PM EST

    So there I am. Somewhere on Hwy 34 between Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes in Minnesota. Speed limit is 55 mph, I'm doing 62 mph. Its about 30 minutes after midnight. I'm the only car on the road when I see a suspicious vehicle crest the horizon. I slow down to about 55 mph. The cop turns around and pulls me over. He said his radar gun reported 72 mph. I have a hefty ticket.

    I'm doing the speed limit from now on. :(

    Oh, and yes, I'm contesting the ticket. The spedometer is accurate in the vehicle in question. Don't think I'll get off, but I'm hoping. First ticket/warning for speeding I've ever had ( been driving since I was about 16-17, I'm currently 24 ).

    More tips to driving in texas. (none / 0) (#219)
    by archmedes5 on Fri Sep 06, 2002 at 05:41:08 PM EST

    As I have just returned from a trip to Texas, I will relate what I've learned.  

    o It is legal to pass on either side in texas (Provided there is a lane) so one must pass with their interstate buddies on both sides of a car in the middle lane and then confuse them by *both* trying to enter the middle lane at the same time.

    o When someone tries to pass someone else in in front of you, you must immediately drive up onto the ass of the person passing and continue to remain in their blind spot after they pass for at least 10 minutes before continuing to pass yourself at 1/2 a mph faster then the person you're passing.

    o The night speed limit is clearly posted with the day speed limit, but it's just window dressing, you must drive at least 80 mph and weave in and out of traffic like a cocaine hopped up maniac.

    o If there is shit hanging off your vehicle (Like a 10 foot long strip of metal flapping in the wind) you must pass as many people as possible so they can see it.  Don't worry it won't hit anyone.  (Saw this once)

    o Old beat up pickups must have as much usless garbage in the bed of their trucks, with the tailgate down.  Don't bother tying anything down, it'll stay put.

    o Signs that say "Left lane closed ahead" mean you should barrel down that lane until it merges and then swerve into the open lane.  People will applaud your driving efficiency.  (Most definately not unique to texas though)

    I damn near got out of my car and kissed the ground when I crossed back into oklahoma.

    Corollary (none / 0) (#229)
    by Zancarius on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 01:37:04 AM EST

    I live in a mountainous region of New Mexico.  We have our fair share of Texans who tend to pass through.  Thus, I believe it is only fair to share what I have learned from these drivers from the flatlands:

    o  When approaching moutainous terrain, it is best to approach the foothills at approximately 20 MPH greater than the posted speed limit, that way your car can thank you for the increased momentum as the grade increased.

    o  BY NO MEANS should you EVER take a corner in mountainous terrain greater than the recommended limit.  In fact, it shouldn't matter if the roadway can be safely navigated at 55 MPH; it's better to do 25 to be safe.

    o  ALWAYS slow down when approaching a corner.  So what if there's someone behind you.  You'll be making certain that both of you can avoid any obstacles should they be hiding around the bend.

    o  Got a lot of cars behind you yet?  No?  What's wrong?  Everyone appreciates company!  If you have fewer than 15 cars behind you, slow down.  This way you can have a gigantic car train and all of you will be safer!

    o  If you happen to be driving along a mountainous road equipped with passing lanes you have two choices.  The first is to floor it.  After all, this is a nice stretch of road that is really wide and typically void of shear rock faces and deer.  If someone tries to pass you, then you can make an interestate buddy out of them -- even if this is a highway.  Your next choice is a mix, really.  You can either take the left lane and clog up the people passing or you can drive down the middle.  After all, no one ever needs to use the right lane only.  By driving down the middle, you can increase your safety margin on both sides.
    (This really irritates me.  It's even worse when I'm going DOWN the mountain -- the passing lane is for the UP lane but if it's clear, you can use it going down -- there's usually some idiot doing 15 in a 50 and when you try to pass, there's a Texan in the middle of the road ruining the opportunity.)

    o  If you absolutely must go through a tunnel, be CERTAIN you slam on your brakes.  By doing this, you will be prepared for any possible Boogie Man who might be hiding within the darkness and you will also increase the safety margin for all those behind you!

    o  Wanna go sightseeing?  Great!  If you have to pull off to view the New Mexican mountains, be certain to take your time turning.  I mean, we wouldn't want to accidentally drive off the edge now, would we?  It doesn't matter if it's a turn off just around a blind corner.  Those drivers will see you just fine because New Mexicans are all equipped with state-of-the-art Texan finding X-Ray vision.

    o  Sharp corners are annoying.  Make sure you take up both lanes of a two-lane highway.  Head-on traffic will thank you for waking them up and testing their horns!

    The sad part is this is something I have to put up with daily.  Worse still, more and more New Mexicans must be taking lessons from the Texans who travel here.  *sigh*

    [ Parent ]

    How to drive in Germany (on the Autobahn) (none / 0) (#231)
    by lazygun on Sat Sep 07, 2002 at 03:04:02 AM EST

    Driving in Germany- The Autobahn

    german drivers (none / 0) (#247)
    by werner on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 01:40:17 PM EST

    A quote from "Getting along with the Germans" by Bob Larson:
    Goethe's ballad "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Der Zauberlehrling) tells the story of the apprentice to a magician who uses the tricks of his absent master to conjure up a flood over which he loses control. The last-minute return of the master averts a catastrophe.

    Like the near-catastrophic flood, the automobile is something the Germans conjured up but are unable to control.

    Germans are bloody awful drivers. They have no word for "tailgating". Ironic really, because they do have a word for "signal", which they do much less often.

    [ Parent ]
    Increased efficiency through drafting (none / 0) (#237)
    by cashrefundman on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 01:09:02 PM EST

    Just like your favorite NASCAR star, you can improve performance and milage by getting as close as possible to the person in front of you. Be careful not to get any closer than 3 or 4 inches, because you can "Take the downforce off" the car in front of you, and you saw what happened to Rusty Wallace when Dale Earnhart did that at Bristol.

    You gave a few bad driving tips vacationeer. (none / 0) (#238)
    by spamflux on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 02:43:23 PM EST

    Driving experience is not an indication of a good driver.. it's apparent from the things you said about "interstate driving." You said something about everyone moving over to the left lanes away from the right/exiting lane so it makes it easier. Isn't that what drivers do already? And some drivers who are cautious will only drive right lanes because they don't want to take any chances of missing an exit. There's nothing wrong with that. You said changing lanes shouldn't require turn signals.. Wow you don't live in an urban city do you? The way I see it, those who don't use turn signals.. are lazy bad drivers no matter what. Here's my proper way of telling people to turn signals. Before you merge, you flip the turn signal 3-5 ticks before getting in.. and make sure you have at least 2 car lengths if possible to scoot in. Do not do what the author has suggested "one car length" or not signalling and just appearing. Some people just instantly signal as they are merging (that's not my way and it doesn't really clue the driving on the merging lane that you are coming in) What's this about "safety group" I don't know the other drivers, why should I create a safety group? I rather create a safety zone in front and in back of my car. And passing, what the heck? Driving faster when the driver is passing in front of you? Are you saying that the far-leftlaners should match the speed instead of being a jerk and driving at speed limit on the far left lane? Common sense is that people on that lane is to drive that speed that others are driving. If it's 75-85, do it. And if you're passing others.. make sure you drive 2 car lengths ahead then make a left turn signal and then scoot in if possible. Driving at a pace to slowly match the other driver just doesn't make sense. And slowing down on the left lane so the driver behind you can follow you is just being a plain jerk and illogical. Passing vehicles is not fun as the author has suggested, it is a sign of aggresion and lack of control - perhaps you need a 15min+ break every 2 hours instead of droning for 10+ hours. You may say that sleep is for the weak, but common sense says that being a road danger is stupid. What's boring about city driving? I live in a city that has almost a million people in it. I make quick corner turns and changes using proper driving techniques. On the interstate that's when it gets boring. Maybe you come from a farm area or some generic suburban place where a city block is actually the equivalent of 3 city block for one suburban block. You know what annoys me the most, drivers who EXIT from the far left lane to the exit within the last 1/2 mile. It's dangerous and idiotic especially when the highways/freeways are busy. Do what safe drivers do , do that within the last 3 miles and slowly adjust to moving to exit lane. Not on the last 1/2 mile or whatever the author suggests. Driving slower than the speed limit is definetely okay on the far right lane. But just remember that slower driving does not mean safer driving if everyone else is driving 70-75 when you're going 55-60. And the author is right about merging onto the Interstate.. for sakes!!! drive fast .. and those who are on the right lane .. make a decision whether TO DRIVE MUCH FASTER or SLOWER to allow merger.. don't continue driving at same speeds to the point where the merging car is within a few feet of you! The merging car should definetely be going 40-50mph by the time it gets off the merger lane. Nothing more that upsets me than some slow poke going 30 mph then spending the next 1 minute to go up to 65mph. Don't let people who drive "more" than you think they're superior. I know people who drive 50 miles back and forth to work and make claims that they are safer than ME who drives 20 miles back and forth to work just because they drive more. Yeah.. uh huh. it doesn't matter if you're doing that on a freeway/highway/interstate because the interstate doesn't have intersections, traffic lights, stop signs, pedestrians, bicycles, pot holes, construction work, double parking cars, commercial trucks blocking you.

    You nearly got me (none / 0) (#245)
    by tetrode on Tue Sep 10, 2002 at 05:47:20 AM EST

    I almost thought that you did not see that the story of vacationeer was sarcastic.

    ________ The world has respect for US for two main reasons: you are patriotic, you invented rock'n'roll (mlapanadras)
    [ Parent ]

    Tenessee - shithole of America (none / 0) (#239)
    by skintigh on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 03:17:03 PM EST

    I completely forgot about this...  I drove from NH to south Texas.  It took a long time.  I listened to NPR until the middle of PA, at which point the only thing on the radio for the rest of the trip was church and country.

    In TN, things really went down hill.  From the Eastern border, to the Western border, the entire fucking highway was "under construction."  No, by "under construction" I mean they closed off the left lane (out of two lanes) with barrels, leave it closed for 5 - 10 miles, open it up for 1 mile (I swear to god) and then close the right lane for 5-10 miles, open up both for one mile, and repeat.  I swear to god this is how it went for however many hundred of miles we travelled.

    Speeds never got above 40 MPH that entire day.  It would have been faster to go through North Dakota.  As soon as the traffic got used to the merge and started to speed up, it would open to two lanes and then close again, causing another bottleneck.

    Oh, and did I actually see any construction anywhere?  Any workers doing work?  And road being fixed?  No, not once, the entire day.  They certainly needed to fix those roads, as they were by far the worst I've driven on in America.

    Fuck you, TN.

    Hilarious driving flash video (none / 0) (#240)
    by Ergo98 on Sun Sep 08, 2002 at 07:08:37 PM EST

    While I don't entirely agree with some of the assertions subtly made in it (justifying some pretty bad driving habits), I do find it pretty damn funny. Anyways, check it out at http://fun.from.hell.pl/2002-05-28/naukajazdy.html.

    international drivers (3.00 / 1) (#248)
    by werner on Wed Sep 11, 2002 at 02:02:21 PM EST

    Does anyone have experience of driving in different countries?

    For example, I personally find German women are bloody crazy drivers compared to English women, whereas the men are only slightly worse. The Dutch think that Belgians are terrible drivers, though I can't comment myself.

    I was in Turkey last week, and it seems that traffic lights are treated more as a suggestion.

    Who are the worst drivers?

    The Interstate driving HOWTO | 248 comments (211 topical, 37 editorial, 1 hidden)
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