More NJ drivers need to adopt this golden rule (Opinion)
With approximately 39,000 miles of public roadways in the state, New Jersey is home to both the best and the worst drivers in the country. (And yes, we can probably lump most of those NY/PA license plates on our roads into the latter category.)
Unfortunately, so many Jersey commuters view their daily drive as a competitive sport. Prioritizing speed over safety.
Unfortunately, so many Jersey commuters view their daily drive as a competitive sport.
In reality, driving is 100% a collaborative activity. When you're on the road alongside hundreds or thousands of people, your goal is exactly the same as everyone else's: Arrive to your destination safely and efficiently. Oh, if only we could replace all the hostility and road rage with synergy and courtesy.
I know, it's a pipe dream. But allow me to channel Drivers Ed class for a moment, and present what should be viewed as the golden rule of the road.
Predictability is the very heart and reason for our system of traffic laws. If other drivers can anticipate what you're going to do — and more importantly, what stupid tricks you're not going to try — everyone stays safer. And happier.
And yes, that includes using turn signals.
But it goes way beyond blinkers. Let me give you a few examples of how being predictable makes New Jersey's highways and byways safer for everyone.
UNPREDICTABLE: Weave in and out of highway traffic lanes, just to arrive at your destination a few seconds earlier. With no turn signal, of course.
PREDICTABLE: Change lanes with purpose, either to pass on the left, to move right again after overtaking a vehicle, to let someone merge, to avoid a hazard, etc. And use your darn turn signal.
UNPREDICTABLE: Drive as fast as you can. Or excessively slow for that matter.
PREDICTABLE: Keep up with the flow of traffic, using the posted speed limit as a guideline.
UNPREDICTABLE: Use the shoulder or exit lane to pass a line of slower or passing traffic. It is courting disaster if someone doesn't see your erratic maneuver and merges into your speeding car.
PREDICTABLE: Stay on the road. Don't be a jerk. And except for extreme circumstances, pass on the left.
UNPREDICTABLE: Make a rolling stop through a red light or stop sign, cutting off moving vehicles who have the clear right-of-way.
PREDICTABLE: Turn right on red only when legal and safe to do so. Full and complete stop, people.
UNPREDICTABLE: Slam merge, cutting across lanes of traffic and/or cutting off an entire line of traffic just before an exit.
PREDICTABLE: Plan ahead. Modern GPS systems even show you which lane to be in for a given exit. And stay alert.
UNPREDICTABLE: Be overly courteous, waving a driver to turn on/off a road while holding up traffic and/or impeding someone else's right-of-way.
PREDICTABLE: Drive defensively, and be friendly and considerate. But not if it involves breaking traffic laws or negatively affects other drivers.
Can we all make a pledge to give this idea a try?
Well, it was worth a shot.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. His 40-mile commute through Union, Middlesex, and Mercer counties ranges from peaceful to maddening, depending on the day. Follow Dan on Facebook or Twitter for your latest weather forecast updates.