Highlights from Hair Balls
Driving in harmony in Houston is a rarity, especially during rush hour. Drivers here might just be a little more difficult than motorists in other cities, too. According to the In the Driver'sSeat Road Rage Survey released last week, Houston ranked first on the least-courteous-driver list.
So we thought we'd share the ten things that Houstonians need to relearn from the Texas Driver's Handbook.
10) Respect the cross-walk
Page 32: You should always be on the lookout for individuals who are on foot (pedestrians) whether they have the right-of-way or not. Drivers must give the right-of-way to pedestrians:
1) At an uncontrolled intersection (there are not any traffic signs or signals for the pedestrian to enter the crosswalk) a) If the pedestrian has a WALK signal.) If there is not a pedestrian control signal, give the pedestrian the right-of-way on a green light.
b) If the light changes to red after the pedestrian has entered the crosswalk, still give the pedestrian the right-of-way.
Yeah, that last line might be a little hard to swallow, but read it over about 100 times. Live by it, at least for the ten people who do walk in Houston.
9) Giving the Right-of-Way
Page 29: When turning left, yield the right-of-way to any vehicle coming straight through from the other direction.
This is a hard one to follow if you're in a rush or having an engaging conversation with your phone in your hand. No need for a game of chicken; just know your left from your right, breathe deep and let the other driver go.
8) You Can't Beat the Light Rail
Page 62: In recent years, light rail has been established in many major cities in Texas. As you travel these areas, you will notice these trains move along the streets just like other vehicles. Light rail is very quiet, in fact the trains are quieter than most buses and cars. So whether you are riding light rail or just walking or driving near the train or tracks, it's important to stay alert and observe the safety rules.
This also goes for people on foot. Don't challenge the train; it's not worth it.
7) No Sudden Turns
Page 48: Decide before you get to the turning point. Never make a last minute turn; it's dangerous.
This is doubly dangerous when there's no turn signal involved. Keep your head in the game, and don't hit a corner too suddenly or try a U-turn for no damn reason.
6) It's Okay, Turn on Red
Page 76: Right turn on red — turning right when the red signal is on, after stopping behind the intersection guides, unless specifically prohibited to turn.
So, you have to pay attention for those tricky "don't turn on red" signs, which are mostly near the light rail. And don't forget that this applies if you're turning left on a one-way street. Move it, buddy; don't sit there at the red light texting your girlfriend.
5) Don't Cut People off to Change Lanes
Page 68: Do not cut into another driver's lane of traffic. Properly signal your intentions to change lanes and change lanes when it is safe to do so. Turn your turn signal off after you complete your lane change.
Following this rule will keep you from getting the finger, or worse, from the driver you just cut off. Just take your time and change lanes the right way.
4) No Need to Tailgate
Page 68: Do not tailgate; follow at a safe distance.
You ever have the moment when you look in the rearview and say, "Why is this person riding my ass?" Don't be that person.
3) Turn Signals — Use Them
Page 41: A good driver always lets others know if he/she is going to turn or stop. Signaling helps others plan ahead. A surprise move often results in crashes. Be alert. Watch and give signals.
Only idiots and assholes don't use their car's traffic signals when changing lanes, making turns or pulling over.
2) Don't Enter the Highway Like a Bullet
Page 50: Enter the speed change lane, stay to the right, signal left, and when it is clear, increase your speed to merge with the flow of traffic.
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The words "clear" and "merge" are the keys here. There's always that anticipation of joining the rest of the pack when you hit the highway. Don't overdo it and come in speeding, but don't ease into the pack and make everyone behind you pump his brakes.
1) Put Down Your Phone
Page 51: Avoid using a cell phone while driving; use may cause distraction and driver inattention. If you must use a cell phone, safely pull off the road or use a hands-free headset.
Too many people like to balk at this one because it's not illegal in most places around here. If you're really that important to be talking while you're driving, you'd have one of those annoying Bluetooth head sets.