Journalists who cover the auto industry drive a lot of cars.
Which means we like to think we know a little more about driving than other people.
Not you, of course. Statistically, you know you're a better driver than most other people on the roads. We're talking about those other ones.
But each of us gets behind the wheel of several dozen cars a year and racks up tens of thousands of miles, on everything from racetracks to Manhattan streets, ranging from high-speed freeway cruising to irksome stop-and-go suburban Saturday shopping.
What follows are six rules for safer driving that you should be observing.
After all, you're the sole pilot of a two-ton machine that can travel at more than 100 mph.
Based on what we see through the windshield, though, you're probably not observing all of these rules--and some of you aren't observing ANY of them.
(1) Check your mirrors every 30 to 60 seconds.
It's painfully clear that many drivers have no earthly idea what's behind them.
That would seem to be because they're not using any of the three mirrors--one on the windshield, one on each front door--to glance at what's happening behind them.
No, this shouldn't come at the expense of looking ahead.
But it's critical to know what's going on behind you.
Ford blind-spot mirrorsEnlarge Photo
If you can't say whether there are vehicles behind you in each lane or not, you're not looking in your mirrors often enough.
Is there, for instance, an over-eager adolescent kid in a lowered car parked 18 inches off your rear bumper at 65 mph?
If so, the sooner you move over, the quicker he can roar past you--thereby taking you out of the range of a potential accident or road-rage incident.
And this is especially important now that various blind-spot warnings are displayed in the door mirror as well, from lights that illuminate when there's a car in your blind spot to specially angled second-mirror insets that show what's next to you.
(2) If you're not passing another car, stay OUT of the left lane!
The left-most lane on roads with two, three, or more lanes in the same direction is NOT just for travel. It's called the passing lane. And there's a reason for that.
We can't do any better than to quote the full text of a graphic that's been making the rounds on social media (see diagram, which we found via Wade Brown).
'Passing Lane' graphic from Facebook postEnlarge Photo
It doesn't matter if you're going the speed limit. You may feel like you're doing the right thing by slowing a speeder down, or you may feel it's your RIGHT to drive in any lane you 'darn well please.'
You're not. It's not. And you ARE breaking the law.
Here's how it is DESIGNED to work: You're in what you think is just like any other lane except that it's 'fast'. One of us approaches you from behind at 74mph (and you look down to see you're going 67mph and you switch to your smug 'justified' face because the sign says 65). While rather close in proximity, the driver begs you to move over.
Oh, how you should.
But you don't.
The driver tries to be patient and now cars start lining up behind both of you. There's a quick flash of the brights, and if you look up from your phone you either move over, or your ego decides that you'll be stubborn (and in some cases actually slow down ON PURPOSE). In most cases you don't even notice the signal but you just start complaining about the guy riding your bumper.
Now there's four or five vehicles lining up behind you while you have a LOT of distance ahead of you and enough room to move over. Now the sixth vehicle back finally jets across two lanes of traffic to go around not only you and the cars behind you, but but also around the slower cars in the two lanes to your right, only to find that there's no GOOD reason for you to be IN THE WAY.
Note that he used the 'SLOW' lane to do this in.
Move over. You don't have to be stubborn.
It's not your lane. You don't have to be self-righteous.
Please be part of the solution. Don't cause traffic jams and contribute to road rage.
The general rage among drivers at oblivious left-lane hogs was rewarded in March, when a Maryland woman was ticketed for blocking the passing lane and failure to keep right.
The "keep right" rule is also taken seriously in Georgia, we gather.
On the West Coast, though, the rule has apparently been forgotten entirely--helped along, we suspect, by the legality of passing on the right on multi-lane freeways.