Driving Me Crazy

Ford Fairlane

Ford Fairlane. Photo by Callen Harty.

Every day I have to drive all the way across Madison, Wisconsin’s beltline and every day brings with it multiple moments of irritation. The design is bad, the constant construction makes it worse, and putting other drivers on it makes it hell. Here are some observations and thoughts on driving, many based on that daily drive:

Despite popular opinion, turn signals are not really illegal to use.

Your time is not more valuable than everyone else’s. Passing a stalled lineup of cars in the next lane and then forcefully cutting in a mile or two up the road makes you a jerk, not a good driver.

When you are behind vehicles at a stop light there is really no great need to maintain three to five car lengths. You will not be likely to have to suddenly hit the brakes when you’re already stopped.

Likewise on the highway, even with traffic flow at 60 or 70 miles an hour, ten to fifteen car lengths is a bit much.

If you are looking at your phone then you are not looking at the road in front of you.

If there is a bicycle in the bike lane you can drive past them without going across double yellow lines and halfway into the oncoming traffic lane.

I have my own car radio; no need to share your favorite music.

The bigger the truck, the smaller the dick.

Yes, you can hydroplane when it’s raining, but 25 or 30 miles an hour on the highway is probably actually more dangerous than that possibility.

If there are multiple cars lined up behind you then you are probably going slower than necessary–even when you’re in the slower lane.

Too much caution is as dangerous as too little.

If you are in the far left lane, drive like you belong there.

If you weren’t aware of it driving side by side next to another vehicle doesn’t allow anyone to go past either of you. If you’re doing that at less than the speed limit you’re an ass.

The slowest vehicles on the road tend to be the ones with Dale Earnhardt #3 stickers in the rear windows.

No, you don’t have a baby on board. Quit lying.

If you own a sports car, use it.

Revving your engine doesn’t make you more of a man.

The word “yield” does not actually mean the same as the word “stop”. Look it up.

On ramps are designed to allow you to get up to speed before you enter the highway—and they typically don’t have stop signs at the point where you are supposed to merge.

Even a 90 degree turn does not have to be maneuvered at five miles an hour or less.

There is no need to stop at a green light. Hint: Just remember that Green and Go both start with the letter “g”.

Likewise, when a light turns green you can start moving again. You don’t have to wait until the cars behind you start honking.

When a light turns yellow and you are a quarter mile away from it that is not a sign to floor it.

And . . . red stop lights mean stop. Period.

Flashing red lights don’t mean you are supposed to get in the way of the ambulance, police car, or fire truck that is coming up behind you.

Believe it or not roundabouts are designed to improve traffic flow and do just that in other countries. Not even sure what else to say about this one, but people need to learn how they are supposed to work.

The far left lane is called the passing lane. If you are not going fast enough to pass the vehicles in the lane to your right then you should be in that lane.

On the other hand, tailgating typically does not make the person in front of you go faster and if they suddenly stop because of a squirrel crossing the road, you’re likely to be the one charged for the accident for following too closely.

Tailgating should only be done at sports events.

Nobody else knows how to drive. 🙂

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on Amazon.com (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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