Are You a “Driver” or Merely a “Mover?”


A Vast Difference Between Driving and Moving!

      Any body can be a “mover!” All they need to know is where the gas pedal is. Sadly, too many movers think that the harder you can press the pedal and the faster you can make the car move, the better a driver you are. Utter nonsense.

     A “driver” is a motorist who recognizes the power of the automobile and moves it in a responsible manner, according to the rules of the road, so that the driver, other motorists, or pedestrians are not in danger from such movement.  Are you a driver?  Do you know the rules of the road and respect them?  If not, then you are just a mover!

Read the following statements and answer True or False. “Drivers” will get them all right. “Movers” not so much.

1- A green light gives you the right-of-way.  T or F

2- When planning to turn, you need to signal for 10 to 50 feet before turning.  T or F?

3- The basic speed law says you can go no more than 10 miles   over the speed limit.  T or F?

4- A flashing red-light means you should stop and only            proceed if it’s safe, since the light is obviously broken.            T or F?

5- Speed limits tell us what speed to drive at when conditions are ideal. T or F?

6- Blowing your horn is a good way for you to avoid crashing.  T or F?

7- When a left-turner is facing a green arrow, the left-turner has the right-of-way over the oncoming car. T or F?

8- The main purpose of yellow and white lines is to separate lanes of traffic.  T or F?

9- Pedestrians always have the right-of-way.  T or F?

10- On wide two way streets where lanes are separated by medians, it would be wrong and dangerous to stop for a school bus that is on the opposite side of the road and has its upper red-lights flashing. T or F?

Did you think any of the statements were true?  The fact is they are all false. Let’s go over them one by one. Class is now in session: (Explanations are based on NY State law).

1- The law doesn’t give anyone the right-of-way. The law only tells us who is supposed to yield the right-of-way. So, the true answer is that you only have the right-of-way with a green light IF the drivers with the red light give it to you. The sad fact is that many a driver has been killed going through a green light thinking they had the right-of-way.

2- The law is clear. You need to signal for at least 100 feet before turning. The idea is to signal the “intention” to turn, not the “execution.” Signaling as you make the turn is meaningless. And, of course, not signaling is totally against the law.

3- The speed limit law says you may not exceed the speed limit.  But, the basic speed law says that you may NOT drive at the speed limit if conditions require a slower speed.  Understand that conditions are not only weather or road conditions.  Approaching an intersection,for example, is also a condition covered by the basic speed law.  Moreover, the biggest condition is not under the wheels but behind the wheel, which is why drunks should not drive, sleepy people should not drive and distracted people should not drive; they are the condition.

 4- A flashing red light does mean you should make a full stop and proceed only when it’s safe to do so BUT NOT because the light is broken.  A flashing red light is a valid traffic signal and means the exact same thing as a Stop Sign.

 5- Speed limits DO NOT tell us what the safe speed is or what speed to drive at.  Speed limits make no suggestion or recommendation as to what speed you should drive at. Speed limits merely give us a range of speeds to pick from. For instance, if you’re on a street where the speed limit is 25 mph, you can legally drive at whatever speed you want between 0 and 25. You can always drive below the speed limit; you cannot drive above the speed limit. It is what it is; the limit, the maximum.                                                       On highways, there is a minimum speed limit. Do you know what the minimum speed limit is? If you mentioned a number, then you don’t know. The minimum speed limit is a formula; subtract 15 from the speed limit and you have your minimum. Therefore, on highways you can legally drive at whatever speed you want between the minimum and the maximum.

6- Blowing your horn is not a good way for YOU to avoid a crash. Blowing your horn is an attempt to shift the responsibility to ANOTHER PERSON to avoid the crash either because you feel you can’t (going too fast) or because you just don’t want to. Either way that is unacceptable.  Horns don’t stop cars: yours or theirs. And quite often, they don’t stop pedestrians either. So, if you truly want to avoid a crash, you need to take responsibility for that and find ways of taking charge of the situation. (Avoiding crashes will be the topic for a future blog).

7- This carries the same explanation as question number 1. You will only have the right-of-way to turn on a green arrow IF the oncoming cars give it to you by stopping for their red light.

8- Lines do separate lanes of traffic but the colors mean different things. Yellow lines separate opposing lanes of traffic while white lines separate lanes that are going in the same direction. Therefore, you can drive on either side of a white line, but you better think twice about driving on the left side of a yellow line.

9- Same explanation as question number 1. The law doesn’t give any one the right-of-way. Not even pedestrians. The law only tells us who yields the right-of-way and motorists are supposed to yield to the pedestrians. The reason we have so many dead pedestrians is because too often “movers” don’t yield.

10- The law is clear. You must stop for a school bus when the upper red lights are flashing, not only on divided streets but also on divided highways. (Just another law that can get you killed).  You might be interested to know that the extended stop sign has nothing to do with it.  Some buses don’t have those signs.

     If you answered all the questions correctly, you can most certainly call yourself a driver. But, if you answered many incorrectly, you need to brush up before you can call yourself a driver.

       It takes knowledge, skill and the right attitude to “drive” a car.  Learn the rules, drive by the rules, respect others on the road and then you will deserve the title, “driver.”

 [I welcome comments and will respond to questions.]

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