It’s the new year, which means it’s time to shed some horrible habits and start making a plan for becoming a better person! Of course, we’re not talking about getting healthy, finding a better job, or spending less time watching daytime TV. Those are noble goals, for sure, but they’re not REALLY important. No, what’s REALLY important is spending the year becoming less of a menace on the roads. Yeah, we’re talking to you. Like a grease-stained Santa Claus in mechanics overalls, we know all the naughty things you did last year behind the wheel of that 2-ton killing machine you call a vehicle, and we’re going to help you make it on the “nice” list this year. So put your right hand firmly on the steering wheel in the 2 o’clock position and repeat after us:
This year, as part of my New Year’s resolution to become a better driver, I do solemnly swear:
- I will not use my phone while driving: This is a big one. Texting while driving causes accidents and deaths, plain and simple. Even talking on the phone is dangerous, and using hands-free devices is not significantly better. So next time you get a call on the road, wait until you get to where you’re going (or at least pull over) before hitting that answer button.
- I will use my turn signals: Turn signals have been around since 1907, and standard since 1938. It’s high time people learned to use them properly. If you’re going to change lanes, use the signal. If you’re getting off at an exit, use the signal. If you’re turning in a parking lot, use the signal. If you’re not sure if you should use the signal or not, just use the signal.
- I will not drive in the passing lane: The left hand lane on a multi-lane road is the passing lane. It is not the driving lane. You should only be in it if you’re passing someone, you’re moving over to make room for merging cars at an on-ramp, if you need to make a left turn, or if the right lane is moving well below the speed limit. Move to the left to pass someone, and then get back in the right lane until it’s time to pass again.
- Speaking of lanes, I will not cause an unsafe driving condition by driving too slowly in my lane: Look to your right. Are cars moving faster than you? Then you’re in the wrong lane. You should be in the lane that most closely matches your driving speed. If people are passing you on the right, you are creating an unsafe driving condition, and should move over.
- I will keep my car reasonably well maintained: This isn’t for your safety, though it WILL make you safer. This is for the rest of us who have to dodge stray chunks of ice and loose bolts that come flying off of your ride. Remember to clean your car off if it’s covered in snow, tie down any loose items in your truck bed, make sure the wheels are belted off, and get your brakes checked.
- I will give my mechanic a nice, big tip for the new year: Ok, this one might not be as important as the rest, but hey, we had to try, right?