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January 3, 2010

News & Features

Driving resolve: One Seattleite's New Year's resolutions for the road

Special to NWautos

Resolutions

Illustration by Andy Zapata

Every now and then, I pass a roadside billboard that seems to be speaking directly to me. Like the one for 76 brand gas stations that reads: "You're right. It would be better if everyone drove like you."

It's true. I'll admit I'm critical behind the wheel. But seriously, why don't you use your turn signal? Wave when I yield? Learn to parallel park?

I'm sure you're doing the best you can, and I'm going to do better in 2010, too. My first resolution is to be less critical of your "not like me" driving. And because we all know that most resolutions are doomed to fail, I'm going to ask you for a little help, a little reciprocity, a little quid pro quo.

I'll park my criticism at the curb if you promise to learn how to operate those "pay and display" parking meters. If that's asking too much, then would you at least consider stepping aside so that those milling behind you can pay for their parking and get out of the rain?

I've seen you driving around with two, three or even four of those stickers still on your window. Despite how difficult it was for you to acquire them, they aren't merit badges. Such limited visibility is like driving around with one eye closed. Please, for everyone's safety, peel them off once they've expired.

Parking stickers

Perhaps in 2010 you can remove those parking stickers from your window. (Sean O'Connor)

Speaking of stickers, it seems you missed the irony in the bumper sticker "Dog is my co-pilot." You're not supposed to let cute little Fluffy paw the steering wheel and clamber all over your lap while you tool around town. I happen to have proof because I have been working on a photo project titled "Dogs in Cars." You and Fluffy are in it.

Of course, I see the hypocrisy in me driving 60 mph, snapping pictures and talking on my cellphone while preaching safety. That's why my second resolution is to stop commingling my Andretti and my Avedon -- if you put Fluffy in the backseat where she belongs. Deal? Deal.

Driving, talking on the phone and taking pictures is a potent cocktail made possible thanks to cruise control. Most people use this option responsibly, but I suffer from OCCD, Obsessive Cruise Control Disorder.

I'm "cruise retentive," which means I refuse to disengage cruise control unless a rear-end collision is imminent. It's high-risk behavior, but I've admitted my problem and sought help. Overcoming OCCD is my third resolution.

Please support me on my path to recovery by remembering that the left lane is the "fast lane." It's not the "I feel safer over here lane," or the "I'll be damned if I'm going to let you pass me lane." When you see me bearing down on you in your rear-view mirror, move to the right -- it's the right thing to do. Together, we can beat OCCD.

With these mutual resolutions, 2010 should be a stress-free driving year. Issues may arise -- like when you're driving down the narrow streets of your neighborhood, congested with parked cars and roundabouts, and you encounter an oncoming car. You'll wonder for the umpteenth time, "Who does have the right of way here, anyway?"

I say you do. Just remember to proffer the "courtesy wave" and maybe even say "thank you" as you pass. I read lips as well as billboards.

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