Frequently we observe the actions of others that upset us in varying degrees. Sometimes these upsetting reactions may cause over action to the point of poor judgment by the observer.

This almost starts a vicious circle doesn't it?

We must not let the actions of others disturb us to the extent that we lose control of our emotions or common sense. Common sense, also known as safety – my justification for writing about this topic.

The best description of what I stated is played out constantly on our city streets by drivers of all ages and both sexes. You may say that one of my "near-hobbies" is driver watching. Occasionally you have the benefit of not only watching a driver error, but also the reaction (or over-reaction) of another driver affected in some way by the first boo-boo.

We wonder why insurance rates are climbing so rapidly. Well, we see the reasons frequently on the streets, demonstrated by people who have no regard what-so-ever for safe driving practices.

I guess the greatest cause of frustration is watching "would be lane changers". You can see it coming, the driver looks quickly from side to side, is riding the bumper of the car ahead, and you know he's (she's) going to make a move. Suddenly it happens, he/she jerks the wheel quickly and cuts off a person in the lane being moved into. Oh yes! Just after the quick move, the signal light comes on to say "I've just changed lanes".

The driver who was just cut off is a picture (several) of frustration. He (she) hits the brakes and simultaneously pumps the air with a fist, while mouthing some sort of greeting to the driver ahead.

The frustration of the "spontaneous lane changer" could be eliminated if the hand to signal lever had been activated at the same time as the mind first thought of the lane change. After that simple operation of saying, "I would like to change lanes" is completed, the next operation is to look in the mirror and shoulder check to observe traffic in the adjoining lane. The next operation is a movement of the car towards that lane. If there is another car close in the adjoining lane seeing your signal lights and your car movement will allow him (her) to slow down and let you move over. If this doesn't work, leave the signal lights on and hope that the next motorist will allow you to change lanes.

You know, if you give motorists a chance to be courteous, they often will be. Try it. After someone in traffic has helped you to make a manoeuvre, give him (her) a quick wave of the hand. You don't have to take your eyes off the road to do this either. That little thank you wave is frequently done on the highway when a courtesy has been extended to help someone pass.

Frustrations are made quite visible when someone slows down the flow of traffic. We've all seen the person who uses the rear view mirror to complete the beautification process, those who lean over in the seat to sample the groceries or fast food, or yes, some people actually are reading a book or a newspaper. All of these activities are interrupted when traffic starts to move or someone blows a horn impatiently asking to "get moving".

I have a pet peeve about people who slow down traffic in their own special way. You have seen them in front of you also I'll bet. You pull to a stop in a line of traffic and you see the shoulder movement placing the shift lever to neutral.

OK, this driver looks like he (she) knows the ropes and will shift back into gear before the light turns green or the person ahead starts to move. Then you start to wonder. All of the things that can distract a driver distract this one. Then, when the light turns green and traffic starts to roll, everyone does except the one in front of you. That's when you see the shoulder move indicating that search for the gear shift and hopefully they find the proper gear.

Finally, that lurch ahead two or three car lengths late. That's when frustration sets in, but don't take it out on your horn or the rest of the car.

Apparently some driving instructors have the demented opinion that it is easier on the vehicle if you shift to neutral while waiting for a traffic light. This is not so. Keep your vehicle's transmission in drive if automatic or in first if a standard. Be prepared to move ahead as soon as it is safe to do so.

Attempting to pass vehicles when it is unsafe to do so is probably the next most frustrating procedure attempted by many drivers. I'm not going to attempt to tell you how to pass safely but we all know how unsafe messing with oncoming traffic can make the pass a race.

Just make sure that your judgment of when to pass is not buried in that thought that you have to get where you are going sooner. You're never in such a rush that you make up better time by risking yours and your passengers' lives.

If you study traffic manners the way I do, you will recognize those who constantly lane change while endangering many drivers. So often, by staying in the lane you wish to make your last turn from, you will have arrived at the same time as the "lane bunny jumper".

The same thing applies to the unsafe passer. In the long trip, you will wind up beside the passer in the next town. No time saved, but many nerves frayed.

I bring these comments up because we are starting the summer driving excursions. Making plans for long weekends, camping and fishing trips and maybe that long holiday tour.

I wrote an article previously on getting your vehicle and camping gear in readiness for travel. Please remember to do a quick check for wheel and brake condition. Let an expert check your vehicle if you don't feel competent about doing it yourself. The most forgotten things to check before long trips - power steering, air conditioning, water pump, alternator, drive belts and coolant hoses I They only last so long then they give up. It's so much less expensive to change them at your convenience in the city than to have them give out in the middle of a trip and cause much greater expense and frustration.

There wasn't as great a response to the "Ideal Seismic Explosive" questionnaire as I would have expected. Those received, however, were what I expected and I hope to have the results for the next column.

'Til next time, at work, at play, or driving somewhere in between, LIVE SAFELY!



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