Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Baby on Board!

I was running some errands this morning and had an interesting road rage experience.

I put on my turn signal, braked and pulled off the road. The massive SUV behind me honked and flew past only to swerve off the road into the same parking lot. The driver came to a stop just in front of my car, leaped out and came screaming toward me.


"Don't tell me you slammed on your brakes and pulled over without signalling when I had my two babies in the car!"

"Well, no, I didn't slam on my brakes and yes, I did signal. Maybe you need to allow a little more following distance"

More screaming from her, more calm (I think) suggestions that not tailgating might make her safer on the road. 

I backed up and headed out onto the road as she climbed back into her car. One errand postponed. I didn't plan on speaking to the woman without the metal shelter of my car.

When I took Drivers' Ed so very many years ago, I was taught that when the person in front of you brakes, you'd better not hit them. No matter how suddenly they brake and that if you do, it's your responsibility. Apparently she missed that lesson.

I was also taught that you need 1 car length for every 10 miles per hour of driving speed. I realize that's not always going to happen, but it should be a goal. The  SmartMotorist.com   web site uses a 3 second rule instead. Spot a fixed object as the car ahead of you passes it. Count to three slowly (one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand). If you pass the object before you get to three, you're too close. That's in good weather. In bad weather, you need to allow more distance. Check out the distance tables on that Smart Motorist page. They're very interesting.

There are some interesting statistics on the Smart Motorist page, too. People driving family or economy cars are less likely to tailgate. Men in sports cars are more likely to tailgate than women. Women are more likely to tailgate than men if they're driving SUVs. In fact, women in SUVs are the most likely to tailgate and twice as likely as men or women in family cars.

I leave more than the recommended following distance as often as I can and I no longer have small children in the car to distract me. I've never rear ended anyone and I've only been rear ended once - slow speed, distracted driver, no damage to either car. 

So what happened back there? I drive a small sporty vehicle that is very responsive and decelerates quickly with light pressure on the brake. She was driving a large SUV and claimed to have 2 babies in the car. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and presume that the kids distracted her rather than her cell phone.   I wouldn't have braked if I thought it would be dangerous. Getting run over by an SUV does not have a place on my bucket list. Chiefly because it could potentially be the very last thing to get checked off.

Another thing not on my bucket list -- jumping out of my car to confront strangers about their driving. I sure wouldn't every have put my babies at risk by doing that with them in the car. I hope she gets some help for her anger management issues before the kids get old enough to make her mad.

1 comment:

Sabra said...

I drive an SUV, an older model Durango (so it's actually on the smaller side), and usually have four kids in there with me.

This means that I don't tailgate and that I'm very careful in general. (Yeah, I really do use my turn signal when I change lanes!) Because I have children, I drive defensively. It's just stupid to expect other people to pick up your slack.