I noticed that I find myself doing this a lot lately while driving. I see a car that looks like they might do something crazy – run a red light, go right on red with traffic coming too close (or me!), changing lanes without signaling with my car already occupying the spot they are moving into, and then saying ‘Don’t do it man!’.
I know that has absolutely no affect on whether they do it or not. I say a lot of things that don’t affect the universe in any significant fashion, this is just another one of them. Here’s a few of my favorite examples from recent driving.
There are quite a few strange intersections in this area. One in particular features a 40 mph speed limit on a 4 lane divided road, a traffic light at the bottom of a slope, and a fork in the road soon after the intersection with the traffic light. One night while headed down the slope towards the light which was green in my direction, I see a car at the light just ahead of me. I was in the left lane as I need to take the left fork after the intersection. Despite ‘Don’t do it man!’, the car of course made a right on red, and proceeded to pull into the LEFT lane, right in front of me! I had absolutely no way of slowing down in time without slamming into them, luckily there was no other traffic and I was able to pull into the right lane. What was this guy thinking? You can’t make a right on red if it is going to result in a collision, if you do make a right on red you’re required to pull into the closest lane. There was basically no way he should have been pulling out into oncoming traffic, but he did it anyway. The ‘right on red’ when traffic is NOT clear is one of the most often ‘Don’t do it man!’ instances, but not the only one.
Another fine example of ‘Don’t do it’ happened in front of me not long ago. While driving to work on a nice sunny morning, I followed another car onto the exit that leads to work. Luckily for both of us, I wasn’t following closely, though I could see the driver was on the phone. Unfortunately for Mr. Distracted Driver, he soon figured out that he’d taken the wrong exit. What did he do? He tried to make an immediate left – unfortunately for him, that left was into a one way off ramp that was merging with our ramp! This required him to drive over some grass, maybe that was a clue for him, or maybe it was the oncoming cars, or maybe it was me saying ‘Don’t do it man!’. Of course he decided that going the wrong way on the other ramp was a bad idea and instead kept turning all the way around and go the wrong way on the ramp he was already on – right back at me! Another quick 180 and he got going back in the right direction, drove for a bit then pulled over and stopped – hopefully to take a breath and get a clue before he did something else stupid. Luckily for him I wasn’t driving closely behind him, or we most likely would have had a collision. He did all of this way too fast and without looking at all – and without putting the phone down.
Some of these incidents have lead me to wonder – do people do this kind of thing less often when you can make eye contact with the driver? Does that really help? In both of the above cases the driver could see what was going on, but I couldn’t make eye contact with them. Would that have changed things at all? I don’t know, but maybe there is ‘driver to driver ESP’ that alerts people that they are thinking about doing something stupid – but it requires eye contact to work.