Thursday, June 07, 2007

How To Drive In Jersey

Thought you'd all get a kick outta this. Of course, I don't condone all of these behaviors...

1. You must first learn to pronounce the city name, it is New-erk not New-ark.

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 a.m. to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 7:00 p.m. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

3. The minimum acceptable speed on the turnpike is 85 mph. On the Parkway it's 105 or 110. Anything less is considered "Wussy."

4. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Jersey has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in Monmouth county, SUV-driving, cellphone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's another offense that can get you shot.

7. Road construction is permanent and continuous in all of Jersey. Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment pleasure during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting.

8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, cats, barrels, cones, celebs, rubber-neckers, shredded tires, cell-phoners, deer and other road kill, and the Homeless feeding on any of these items.

9. Mapquest does not work here -- none of the roads are where they say they are or go where they say they do and all the Turnpike EZ pass lanes are moved each night once again to make your ride more exciting.

10. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been "accidentally activated."

11. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be "flipped off" accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot.

12. Do not try to estimate travel time -- just leave Monday afternoon for Tuesday appointments, by noon Thursday for Friday and right after church on Sunday for anything on Monday morning.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Do As They Say, Not As They Do!

The NJ State Police and other local police departments will most likely not appreciate this post. However, what I have to say is definitely necessary, especially after the unforunate incident that occurred on September 27, 2006, where a NJ State Trooper ran a STOP sign in Cape May County.

The motivation for this blog entry actually started about a month ago. I've noticed more instances of police vehicles doing things on the road that would warrant them pulling us over.

Let's start with putting on the lights for making illegal U-turns in a non-emergency situation just so they don't have to take the extra time to make the U-turn legally. Amazing...I'm sure that you've all seen this practice. All of a sudden you see a police vehicle show up out of nowhere with its lights on, make the illegal U-turn while everyone around is dazed and confused, then turn off the lights upon completing the turn. This obviously creates additional, unnecessary distractions for all of us.

I've also seen a few instances of police vehicles making turns without using turn signals. Recently, I was behind a Raritan Borough cop on Route 28 in Bridgewater. All of a sudden, he abruptly slows down and makes the hard right turn onto First Avenue without using a turn signal. You might think that this is a minor driving infraction. True, but if someone is killed due to something so minor, you might feel differently.

Then, of course, we all heard about the incident in Cape May County. At this point, it appears as though the State Trooper was not responding to an emergency when he ran the STOP sign. There was absolutely NO excuse for this egregious driving infraction.

It's time for the cops to realize that they are not above the law. They must set the example out on the road especially since they have the power to punish us for our driving infractions. So what can we do about this? Well, I suggest calling the respective police department, and let them know what you witnessed a police vehicle driving inappropriately. You have every right to let them know, and it sends a message that we are out there watching as well. You should also mention that you are concerned about the safety risks.

Having said this, I do realize that there are good cops out there that follow the rules of the road, and you should always yield to an emergency vehicle.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Drive Right, Pass Left (Easy, Right?)

I still don't understand why such a simple rule of the road, namely "Keep Right Except to Pass," is so hard for most people to comprehend. At least it seems as though no one can comprehend this very simple concept. I suppose the more plausible explanation is that no one bothers to obey it mainly because the State Police don't bother to enforce it.

Everyone should realize that staying in the left lane and refusing to move over for anyone (well, except for a cop, of course) is actually a safety hazard. It causes road rage and encourages excessive passing on the right. I also don't buy the short-sighted excuse, "I'm doing the speed limit, so I don't need to move over." Please...

This is obviously an issue on the major highways, but is also a concern (at least for me) on the four-lane state highways (i.e., two lanes each direction) such as Route 31, Route 202, etc. With so many exits from the left lane, drivers seem to feel that they can justify staying in the left lane just because they will be eventually using one of these left lane exits. I've noticed this trend on Route 31 in both directions near the interchange for I-78. For those traveling south on Route 31 and wanting to exit onto I-78 East, drivers are staying in the left lane up to three to four miles before the exit. The same is true on Route 31 North as the Pennsyltuckians are heading home from work. There's no reason why you can keep right until it's time to move over to the left lane to make the exit. It's just the opposite of moving into the right lane at the appropriate time to make a right lane exit.

It's time everyone gets a clue about the concept of drive right and pass left. Just think about how much safer the roads could be if everyone really made an effort to practice this. I've been doing it for quite some time now, and it's really not that hard. I feel better about doing my part, but I must admit that it's challenging when I occasionally encounter a real stubborn "left lane dick." Despite my flashing headlights to encourage this inconsiderate person to move over, I am left with no other choice but to pass on the right.

Oh well, behaviors do change very slowly, and my hope is that this issue can change over time. The State Police can be a big help, but in fairness to them, they are dealing with the nuts on the road that are committing more egregious driving stunts.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Michael, Michael, Motorcycle

On Saturday, July 1, 2006, I was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-80 West due to a serious accident near exit 34. While inching my way towards my destination in the left lane, I suddenly noticed that a few inconsiderate bikers had decided to pass everyone by riding in between each lane of cars. I was obviously annoyed about this, and after the first few had passed me, I noticed another biker approaching me from a few hundred yards away. I maneuvered my vehicle to the right to prevent this person from passing. While this move had its desired effect, the biker simply moved over to pass everyone between the two center lanes. As this biker passed me, she looked over and smiled as if to say, "ha-ha!" Nice attitude, eh?

Bikers have complained for years that they get no respect on the roads. I can certainly understand that it is sometimes very hard to see a motorcycle until it's too late. However, when bikers pull stunts like passing in between lanes of cars, they deserve any consequences that may happen as a result. Whether they like-it-or-not, the rules of the road apply to their two-wheeled vehicles just as much as our four-wheeled vehicles. Their daredevil attitudes are only creating unnecessary safety hazards. Get a grip, guys! If you want respect, you need to earn it.

So, to the biker chick who thought she was "cute" when maneuvering around my blockade, I just want to say, "You got me this time, but you will be the one to lose in the end."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Use Your Turn Signals, Please!

I am very frustrated over the fact that most drivers are not using their turn signals. After all, it's really not a hard concept. Let's review, shall we? The long thingy sticking straight out of the left side of your steering column is called a turn signal stalk. When you need to make a turn, you move this turn signal stalk up or down to actuate blinking lights on your vehicle. This gives everyone else on the road a clue that you will be maneuvering your vehicle in some fashion to the left or the right. I would have to believe that this device has been installed in vehicles for over 60 years.

During my 100+ mile daily round-trip commute, I can't even keep track of how many times I've seen such blatant inconsiderate non-use of the turn signal. Most times I've noticed that the driver is on the cell phone. Hmmm, that's another juicy topic for a different post, but I digress...

I realize that New Jersey has a reputation for it's rude drivers. I'm sure that you've all read or heard all the jokes. However, it doesn't have to be that way. These things take time to turn around (no pun intended), but we need to start somewhere. It's a slow, but sure process. So, let's get off the cell phone, and let's make a conscious effort to use the turn signal on your vehicle.

Since this is my inaugural post on my newly created blog, I would like to clarify a few things:
(a) I am a true native New Jerseyan that has been driving these roads since 1978.
(b) I practice what I preach. So there's no need for anyone to say to me, "So who died, and left you in charge?"
(c) I practice safety at work and at home. This includes driving.
(d) I don't claim to be perfect. I will admit to keeping up with traffic, but I also don't do anything stupid.

OK, folks. Now it's your turn. I look forward to your comments - good, bad, or indifferent...