10 New Year's Resolutions for Houston Drivers

This whole stretch of 59 is soon to be a mess, adding to our traffic woes. All the more reason to read this.
This whole stretch of 59 is soon to be a mess, adding to our traffic woes. All the more reason to read this. Photo by Lance Childers
Happy New Year, Houstonians! It's a new year, a new you and time to solidify those resolutions. For the benefit of all of us who take to the roads each day (and take our lives in our own hands), may we suggest a few for the drivers out there? Our public transportation isn't exactly stellar and many freeways look like (or are about to look like) war zones. We know it's tough out there. Traffic sucks.

So, maybe consider a few of the items below and how they might not only improve your chance of surviving until 2019, but how they could help us stay alive and maybe a wee bit less stressed in the new year.

Don't cross four lanes of traffic to make your turn or exit and allow others to merge correctly.

Generally, doing highly illegal maneuvers like this one would seem to be obvious and yet... Each time we see someone wildly flying across a four-lane freeway or literally turning left from the far right lane of a street, we shake our head and hope those poor souls are reading this story.

Stop texting (or Twittering or Facebooking) and go hands free.

Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, for the love of all that's holy. Use a hands-free device for talking. Put the phone down otherwise. It's so incredibly unsafe for you and everyone near you. And while we are on the topic of hands and eyeballs, ladies, put on your make up at home. You want to put your eye out? And guys, stop gawking at every girl nearby. It's gross and stupid and dangerous.

Pay attention to stop lights when you are sitting at them.

We all get distracted just sitting there. We get it. But, if you sit there for 10 seconds staring at your phone or off into space, you're going to get the horn tap or worse. And speaking of the gentle horn tap, don't be that jackass who holds your horn down because the guy in front of you didn't put it to the floor the millisecond the light went green.

Don't block the right turn lane.

Sweet pink Jesus, there are few things more frustrating than sitting at a red light wanting to turn red when the guy at the front of the line decides to go straight despite having three or four other perfectly decent lanes to be in. What are you doing there, man? You're killing us. KILLING US!

Never drive down the emergency lane unless it's an actual emergency.

We can't believe we actually have to say this to anyone. Seriously, when we see that guy, we are filled with the kind of rage that burns holes in things by accident. We are equally filled with admiration for the person who decides to pull halfway into the emergency lane to prevent the "I am a busy person and better than all of you, so I will drive down my personal emergency lane and scoff at you lower creatures" dude from getting by. As an aside, have you ever stopped to consider a real emergency might be waiting on the other side of the hill? Ugh.

Obey the three-foot rule.

No, we don't mean at strip clubs you pervert. We are talking about the rule that requires you to keep at least three feet between you and a bicycle sharing the road with you. In this case, you are LITERALLY risking the life of someone on two wheels if you don't. Oh, and cyclists, maybe be smart and stay off busy streets with no bike lanes during rush hour. There are likely perfectly good side streets that are much safer for you and less aggravating for drivers, and we do both.

If you don't know what this is, avoid downtown at all costs. - PHOTO BY ED SCHIPUL/FLICKR
If you don't know what this is, avoid downtown at all costs.
Photo by Ed Schipul/Flickr
Avoid the light rail unless you know what you are doing.

Has there ever been a car accident with the light rail system that wasn't "truck smashes into the side of light rail car while trying to illegally turn across the tracks in front of oncoming train?" If you don't understand how the light rail works, get off Main Street or Fannin and stay well away from the area. If you have an accident, you could harm innocent passengers and block traffic for hours while they investigate your stupidity.

Get off my bumper and/or out of the fast lane.

Drive fast if you want or as slow as your heart desires, but do it the right way. If you must go fast, don't drive 18 inches off our bumper. You are only forcing us to slow down to a very slow speed in order to protect us all from certain annihilation and happily piss you off. Go around us. But for you slow drivers, don't be surprised if you are cruising down the left lane, some jerk doesn't tailgate you. You had it coming if you didn't move over.

No more going to the front and cutting.

We will confess to having done this before, but NO MORE. There might be no worse spot for this in the entire universe than the 59 and 610 interchange. In every direction people race along until the very last second and then attempt to dart in front. Not only does it hinder traffic in the exit lane, but it blocks a lane for others while you wait for a spot. Just get in line with the rest of us miserable bastards.

Stop being a stupid parker.

Look, man, we understand you have a new car or are in a hurry, but nothing justifies you spreading your Beemer across two parking spaces or pulling into a handicapped spot for convenience. Admit to yourself that you're an asshole and reform today. You'll make the world a better place and yourself a better person and isn't that what resolutions are all about?
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke