I AM A VERY GOOD DRIVER

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
~Albert Einstein

I know that I sound like Rainman—yet I think that I am a very good driver. Yes, I had an accident when I was 17. I rear-ended another car in wet and slippery conditions on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, Maryland on the way to school. I was late. My friend Ben McGrath was in the car with me recovering from an injury, ironically, from a car accident where he also had been at fault. I was on my way to school, and skidded into the car in front of me. This is all beside the point except for the fact that I have not had an accident where I was at fault in the past 35 years. I have had a few speeding tickets, although they would surprise you for how little, but this is also beside the point. I am getting to the point.

1. Drivers in the Hampton Roads Area are the worst I have encountered anywhere in the United States. They are the least skillful and the least courteous. Rarely, upon initiating my blinker to change lanes does anyone let me in. I let others in all the time. However, the rule of thumb in Tidewater is, upon seeing the driver’s intention to change lanes, to speed up and prevent him from moving over.

2. I take a look at the driver when I see something really out of line. Typically, the driver is on his cell phone. Research shows that talking on the cell phone is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. This includes hands-free telephone use. Significant distractions impair driving. It is as simple as that.

3. The driving in Sicily, where I spent two years, is probably more dangerous because the Sicilians take more chances and the driving customs are more risky, but they are much more skillful than my fellow Tidewaterers. The scariest driving I have encountered was in Cairo where 60 pedestrians are hit, on average, every day. The local drivers do not use their lights at night and only turn them on to pass. I asked my driver about this and he explained that by keeping the lights off, he saved the battery.

4. What if the traffic and highway police handed out tickets for good driving—and that some sort of reward—like a $50 check—were handed out instead of a ticket? Around here they wouldn’t add up to much, and they could be paid for by tickets for bad driving.

5. I practice “economical driving.” When I see that the light is red, I take my foot off of the gas pedal a long way off and coast. Most drivers around here accelerate past me and then stomp on the brake. They are wasting gas and putting wear and tear on the brake. I make a game out of seeing how few times I can step on the brake while keeping up with the guy who just sped past.

6. Similar to Point 5, when there are significant backups at our various tunnels, I count the times the driver ahead of me hits the brakes and count my own brakeage. Typically, it is 10 to 1, him to me. And, he is getting nowhere just as fast as I am. However, my brakes and my gas tank are going a lot farther than his. Not to mention that I am green. And, I am saving money.

7. Similar to Points 5 and 6 is the accordion effect. The stop and go at our bridge tunnels IS the problem. The goal, both for economy of material as well as economy of time, is to never stop your car. To do this, everyone has to program much more following distance from the car ahead. This absorbs the slow downs and eliminates the stops. Tailgaters have to stop when the car ahead slows or stops. With enough distance, traffic would never stop. Those who cut in to take advantage of the larger gaps between cars should, as soon as they are stopped, be hauled from their car and severely beaten (Shyla’s note: For you weepy Lefties out there, this is a joke, although I suppose even considering such a joke offends your self-proclaimed tolerance and your self-proclaimed compassion demands that anyone so dreadfully insensitive be hauled from his car and severely beaten).

8. The fines for reckless driving, or at-fault driving, through our bridge tunnels should be astronomical. There should be significant jail time. During one four-hour backup and tens of thousands of cars delayed, can you calculate how many man hours are lost on the job, and how much money is lost by employers and employees. Add the cost of fuel and the wear and tear on the tens of thousands of cars and the loss would be in the millions. The man hours and the lost revenue would, on average, exceed the lifetime productivity of the individual who caused the accident, probably several times over. How would you like that to be your legacy?

9. Road rage is stupid. The offending driver is not going to learn anything from your antics. Anyone as boneheaded as to do whatever caused your rage is unlikely to be a fast-learner. If you take the boneheaded numbskullery of the average Hampton Roads driver personally, then I ask you, who is the real bonehead? My actions reflect my character. Your actions are a reflection of yours.

10. I have never seen, anywhere, more running of the red-light, than in Tidewater. The majority of red lights I stop for, I see one and often more cars go through. Most of the time it isn’t even close. Not only is this dangerous to the cars for whom the light has turned green, it is extremely dangerous for those of us who stop for the light. I always look in my rear view mirror to see the antics of the guy behind me who wants to run the light while I am stopping for it. On more than a few occasions, that guy has narrowly missed me in his kamikaze attempt to run the light as he swerves around me.

11. While driving, do not “use the force.” Do, however, use the horn. This still seems to be an effective deterrent and reminder for the offending (or offensive) driver to straighten up and drive right.

12. And, oh by the way, turn down the “music.”


~Bryce Lefever