Side Mirror Placement Theory

I drive a lot of rental cars and I always wonder why the previous driver felt that the mirrors should be positioned the way they are when I get in. The side mirrors are usually pointed in so that you can almost, or often actually, see the back door handles. That orientation is great if you are wanted to watch for people sneaking up on your car from behind, but is not so great for when the car is moving and other cars are moving around you.

Yesterday, a co-worker borrowed the rental car and told me she needed to move the mirrors because I had them pointed out. That's when I realized that not everyone shares my side mirror placement theory. Since I believe my theory to be correct and my sister agrees, it must be right. So here it is.

It's really simple. The side mirrors should be angled so that cars drive out of the rear view mirror, into the side mirrors, and then are out your window, with as little overlap as possible. Or if you are and expeditious driver like me and no one passes you, the cars move from your side mirrors into your rear view mirror as you speed pass them.

As I shared my theory with my co-worker and a couple others, they seemed a bit baffled, most probably because I actually have a theory of side mirror placement, but also by how much math seemed to go into the whole mirror setting process. The conversation ended with them telling me I'm a geek, but I'm pretty sure at least one of them tested the theory out when they got in their cars later.

When I retire, I'm going to teach driver's ed and this is going to be chapter one.

I Must Have This Car

I've had a few cars that I would consider cool. My first car was a '77 Trans Am. Not just a Trans Am, but the Bandit. THE car of Smokey and the Bandit fame. Phoenix on the hood and all! It was way cool. It had two speeds, on and off. Light red, car off, light green, car on, tires smoking (not cheap tires at that). Go, stop, go, stop, ticket, ticket, ticket.

But I digress.  One of the original KITT "camera cars" is up for sale. How cool is that car. How much did you want a car that talked to you and could save your ass from imminent danger.

Although it cannot "achieve the 300 mph speeds that KITT reached, soar 50 feet in the air or throw smoke bombs", key features of the star car are intact. The super cool red scanner light on the nose glows and makes a humming noise is still there. How cool is that.

I'm a little bummed that KITT cannot hold a conversation, because I do look for that in a car, but then I guess that's what I have friends for... But let's face it, it is KITT!

Indecisive Cavemen

I was driving to work today when a guy tried to change lanes in front of me. To be perfectly honest, I was in my "exit the highway while passing everyone on the right" mode. He got two feet into my lane and suddenly realized that I was there. He proceeded to react like any moron would. Stay halfway in my lane while slamming on his brakes, realize that slamming on his brakes made be get closer, let off his brakes (not speed up mind you, or get out of my lane, just let off his brakes), then brake again, and repeat the process.

This process happened several time, taking, what in real time was a few seconds, but in driving time (which is 1/mechanic time) was an eternity. During this time I started wondering, what is the evolutionary benefit to indecisiveness?

According to evolution, every feature, action, etc. of life today was driven by how it benefited the survival of our ancestors. I can't imagine that indecisiveness was any benefit to the caveman, so how can there be so many indecisive people living today.

Evolutionarily speaking, indecisiveness should have lead to extinction. Imagine the caveman (or woman - I want to be politically correct here) seeing a saber-tooth tiger and thinking, "I should run, no wait, maybe not, no, yes, I should run, or not..." That is a caveperson on the fast track towards extinction. Maybe the Neanderthals were indecisive and that's why we don't have the Neanderthal Equal Rights Association (NERA) suing Walmart for equal employment opportunities.

I think technology and traffic laws are the reason that indecisiveness has proliferated in society today.  Surely the saber-tooth tigers and other paleolithic carnivores would have removed them from the gene pool a 100,000 years ago. Today, thanks to traffic rules and high insurance rates, the indecisive will deny their evolutionary fate and continue to cut me off on the highway.

Same People, New Cars

I just drove back from Austin today and, man, is my voice tired. It's takes a lot out of you to yell at other drivers to get out of the way for 3 hours.

It would seem that many of them still have not read the If I Taught Driver's Ed  and Get Out of the Left Lane postings.   Let me reiterate - the left lane is for passing only! It's even posted on the highway. Look to your right, if no car appears to be moving backward from you, you are not passing. Get out of the left lane.

When I went to A&M many years ago, I would drive back and forth to College Station. There would always be a couple cars driving expeditiously with me in my Trans Am - other college students in trucks or old Toyota's. This trip I noticed that there were also a couple cars driving expeditiously with me, but now they are driving BMW's and Infinity's. It like we are all the same people, we just got new cars.

UFO Crossing Ahead

I hate when I see Left Lane Closed Ahead signs but the lane is not closed. It slows traffic because people are pulling over only to find that there is no closed lane. This guy got tired of the *leftover* signs and made a few modifications.

Get Out of the Left Lane

I'm pretty sure I've discussed the rules of driving in the left lane, but, as is evident from my drive home from the airport today, it appears that a refresher wouldn't hurt.

Let me start by saying that certain models of cars should not be allowed to drive in the left lane, ever. Cars like Geos and Kias. The little squirrels under the hood cannot possibly run fast enough to get up to highway speeds, much less flow of traffic speeds.

That said, the main rule for driving in the left lane is don't drive in the left lane. The left lane is for passing. If you are not whipping past people on your right, get out of the lane. Another hint is that if people are passing you on the shoulder, get out of the left lane. (I actually saw this happen today. The guy did not get the hint and continued to drive in the left lane, blocking those of us who don't want to buy new tires.)

My guess is that guy was in the left lane because he planned to go through the Toll-Tag lane at the toll booth 5 miles up the road. You do not need to be in the left lane to do this, you can be in the 2nd to the left lane. Or you can pull into the left lane 0.1 miles before the toll booth. There are signs, it won't sneak up on you.

If you cannot talk to your passenger and drive with the flow of traffic, get out of the left lane. If people are whipping past you on your right (see above) as you chat with your passenger, pull off the highway and go to Starbucks. You can discuss it over a double latte. Your passenger is probably terrified by your talking with your hands as you drive anyway.

So let's try to be more observant of the unwritten rules of the left lane in the future.