Three Cs of driving during rush hour are pretty simple

Karen S. Spangler

Managing Editor, Ho’okele

Gritting my teeth and jacking up the radio slightly to de-stress, I crawled along the highway in bumper to bumper traffic. Almost every day for the past two weeks, both morning and afternoon rush hour had been this way. The bad traffic nightmare was getting to be more of the rule rather than the exception.

So what’s the deal, I wondered. The sky is blue and clear with just a few puffy, white clouds; the visibility is great; the roads are completely dry – so why can’t people just drive without getting into accidents?

You know what I’m talking about – one average accident and thousands of motorists are jammed on all of the major highways, which isn’t many since Hawaii doesn’t have a lot of major arteries, for long, stressful, frustrating, can’t get-where-you’re-going, hours of commuting time.

And if there’s a major accident, you might as well just forget even putting your car on the road – spend the evening at a shopping mall, go to a movie, or have dinner at your favorite restaurant and wait it out. Your options are limited.

I have paid close attention to my fellow drivers and I think that I have figured out the problem. Let’s call them the three Cs of driving, especially important for rush hour driving.

It’s pretty simple. The three Cs represent careful, courtesy and common sense. You would think that they would all be rather “commonsensical,” wouldn’t you? Obviously, that isn’t the case.

Let’s take a look at the first “C” – careful. It seems to me that there are too many drivers who aren’t being careful. Driving 50 or 60 mph and following within a few inches of the car in front of you isn’t being careful. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you are doing this and the driver in front of you has to stop or even slow up, you aren’t going to be able to stop before plowing into him. With good reflexes, an open space in an adjoining lane, and a whole lot of luck, you might be able to quickly change lanes and divert yourself from the impending crash, but not likely. The equation is easy – too fast, following too close = accident waiting to happen. It’s usually not just a couple cars involved, but a chain reaction catastrophe because several cars simply didn’t have enough time to slow up or stop.

What ever happened to the safe driving rules that we learned in drivers’ education classes? Or maybe some of these drivers didn’t learn the same rules that I did. It goes something like this – allow one car length for each 10 mph of speed. If there are weather conditions that make driving even more dangerous, allow a little more. Most drivers probably aren’t going to adhere to this driving rule, but at least allow yourself enough space so that you can stop or slow up without hitting another car.

Being careful also means being always alert to what is happening on the road-way while you’re driving – ahead of you, behind you, on both sides of you. That’s a lot of territory to cover, but it’s absolutely necessary.

Be sure to avoid quick, unexpected stops (when possible), always signal when you need to change lanes or make a turn, and watch out for pedestrians.

The second “C” is courtesy – and despite the aloha spirit which prevails in our paradise, there are many situations where courtesy is seriously lacking.

For example, I’m sitting at a traffic light, my signal flashes to green, but there are still at least a couple – and often several cars – that are coasting through the intersection on a red light several seconds after my light has turned green. Grrrrr…

How about those of you who don’t “yield” at yield signs, who dominate the right of way at stop signs, who turn right on red lights without stopping or even looking to see if cars are coming from other directions? Growl….

One of my favorite situations – and I say this with great sarcasm – is the driver who comes racing up the highway from far behind me, determined to get in front of me before the two lanes merge into one. This fool will speed, cut me off, and do anything and everything possible to make sure that he beats me to the bottleneck. Aarrrgh…

And what about the car in the lane behind you or beside you, with the bass on the radio booming so loud that your whole car vibrates and your windows shake? There’s nowhere to go to get away from them and I probably wouldn’t be quite so upset if it was good music – but it’s not what I would choose to listen to. However, no choices here, I’m stuck listening until he turns off or I do. I glare at them, but to no avail. Obviously, the repetitive exercise of playing music so loud has damaged their eyesight as well as their hearing.

The last of the three “Cs” is common sense. You know what they are – don’t drive after you have been drinking, don’t try to text on your cell phone while driving (it’s illegal anyway) or put on makeup or read the newspaper or do anything else that takes your attention away from where it should be – driving. Don’t follow too closely can also be included here.

Oh, there’s a fourth “C” – although this is not one that is controlled by drivers. It stands for construction. Now I ask you, does it make any sense to build thousands more homes and put thousands more cars on highways that are already filled to more than capacity and on infrastructure that just can’t tolerate anymore? You get my point, so enough said.

I’m hoping that maybe the next time you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, at least some of you will give some thought to the “Cs” of driving. With a little help from all of us, maybe things will improve – although I doubt it.

That brings to mind a couple other “C” words of driving – cringing as I think about the commute.

Have a safe driving day in paradise!

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Category: NewsWindow on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam