Driving Tips From a Race Car Driver

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello, everybody and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer? I hope you all had a nice weekend and start of your week, we had a majorly productive weekend. So Saturday was all about staying home for the first weekend in a while and we went to town on domestic stuff like we cleaned out the refrigerator and cleaned all of the shelves and reorganized the shelves in the refrigerator door so that they were more efficient for what we use them for. We also cleaned up our living room, we completely rearranged our guest room and office, which is so much calmer and streamlined and not overwhelming. So that's wonderful. We also had a pizza day on Sunday and made a whole bunch of pizza doughs. So for those of you who don't know, my husband, Ben is a very avid amateur chef and cooks a lot and experiments a lot. And it's just so fun to follow his curiosity. And him and one of our friends have really nerded out on pizza dough, like playing with the types of flour types of yeast, how long they prove for, if we cook them in the oven, or the pizza oven or something else. And so we've had some really wonderful experimentation days and Sunday was another one, we make our own tomato sauce. We have a lot of fun with the toppings and had some friends over. So that was really fun. Today's episode is one that I hope will be fun, I hope will be informative and that I care very, very passionately about. So people will ask me if Ben and I fight over who gets to drive whenever we have to go somewhere. And I immediately tell them absolutely not because I absolutely hate driving on the street. As ironic as that might be since I was a racecar driver for a really long time. But it's true I find driving on the streets super frustrating, I find it really infuriating that we don't teach people how to drive, I find that my blood pressure goes through the roof. So Ben pretty exclusively drives us. And this gets me to the point of today's episode, which is all about driving tips from a racecar driver. Now, I want to preface this by saying that I am not pointing fingers at any individual or any people who do not maybe know some of these general guidelines for driving we culturally do a terrible job of educating people if there is any education about driving. And it absolutely blows my mind that the most widely used form of transportation has no formal standardized or enforced rhyme or reason. So Auntie Julia is here today to share her wisdom for how to drive smoothly, safely. And obviously always abide by the local and standardized laws and rules for driving. I am not about rule breaking. My tips today are rather how to keep flow of traffic smooth how to be respectful for other people on the road. Because at the end of the day, with driving, we are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people interacting with each other on the roads. And so there are little things that we can do to make it more enjoyable, less stressful, and smoother for everyone. So I have spent a lot of time in the New York metropolitan area. I've spent a lot of time in the Northern California area. And I've now spent a ton of time in the south and surrounding areas around North Carolina. And what this has taught me is that there are radically different flavors of bad driving depending on where we live. For example, highway 85 around Charlotte is like a street racing. For all I know I've never done street racing though. So I don't know firsthand. But it is crazy. We got people weaving in and out of traffic. We've got people going super fast. It's it's chaotic at best. 77, on the other hand, seems to just go so slowly all the time, and people just don't move for seemingly no reason. there will be a miles long backup and then there clearly was not a crash or anything. So 77 is its own form of hell. If we go to the other side of the country, highway 101 around the San Francisco area is wild because you'll have people going 80 miles an hour in the left lane, and then you'll have people going 45 miles an hour in the right lane. And somehow this speed differential does not bother anyone or concern anyone which is so mind blowing and dangerous. And anyway. And then the New Jersey Turnpike, particularly South of New York City like if you're driving down to the Jersey Shore seems to always have cars in the exact same spot across all lanes doing the exact same speed so that you cannot get by or dropped back and is just who I'm already getting heated talking about this. I feel very passionately about proper driving and I can already tell you that this episode is going to be spicy. in addition to geographically having different flavors of bad driving. I also feel like there are different flavors of bad driving depending on if you're driving in the city, if you're driving on the highway, if you're on back roads, whatever it is, so I want to tackle all of them. And I'm going to go through some general things that I think we should all be doing, regardless of where we're driving, and then focus on some city driving tips, and then some highway driving tips. And then some country and back road driving tips. So first, some general tips that we should all be doing while we're driving, we should always be paying attention. This might sound silly, but people say that they like to zone out in the car. But that's not the time, right? We're operating heavy machines that are dangerous. There are a lot of people around us, we're having to put trust in other people to pay attention. So we need to pay attention as well. And I'll never forget that I was in college and I was volunteering to speak for an organization. And the woman picked me up from school because I didn't have a car there yet. So she picked me up. And we were driving and we were on the highway, 101 To be specific, and I just remember her saying that she couldn't imagine driving a stick shift because she doesn't want to have to pay attention while she's driving. And I'm sitting here in the passenger seat thinking, I hope that you're paying attention when you're driving because you're operating heavy machine. So anyway, we should always be paying attention and not taking things for granted. The second thing that is critical and that really boils my blood is when people don't use their blinkers. blinkers are the only way that people around us can know if and where we are going to move our heavy, fast moving and dangerous machines. And so whether that is in a city, whether it's on the highway, how is anyone supposed to know where you're gonna go, it can be startling to have a car suddenly cut in front of you. If you're trying to switch lanes, if you see that someone else has blinkers, then then you're gonna know that you can't switch lanes like there's just so many things. And it's so easy, right, they intentionally put the blinker handle right next to the steering wheel. So I beg of you, I beg of you so much. Please always use your blinkers because it is much safer, it is much more considerate to the people around you. And it is smoother for the overall flow of traffic. The last thing that's for more for general things to do while driving is with your lights. please be considerate and make sure that your high beams are off. I remember getting in an Uber and it was nighttime and the person was just driving with her high beams on and that is so so blinding it painful to have these really bright lights there just shining in your rearview mirror, or if you're coming into oncoming traffic. So a lot of cars now have automatic on and off for the high beams. But if you're not in one of those cars, please make sure that you turn off your high beams when you are around other people. Oh, also, speaking of lights being off, it is wild to me how many people in the rain don't turn their lights on, you should always have your lights on if you're using your windshield wipers. And the problem is if it's raining really heavily and let's say you have a gray car and it's torrential downpour, if you don't have your lights on, how am I supposed to know that you're there, it's very hard to see. So for your own safety, please make sure your lights are on when it's raining. Okay, so that's my tips For general driving: pay attention, use your blinkers and be conscious of how your lights are on or off. Now let's dive into city driving tips. Let's talk about merging. Merging seems to be a particularly challenging thing for many people. And we get aggressive and look I'm guilty of this too. Sometimes I don't want to let the people go, I want to get into the lane I'm moving to. But with merging, we should really think of it as like a zipper, right, we should just all embrace the fact that one person from one lane goes one person from the other lane goes. And we just alternate. And we know that people are going to do that we shouldn't give people a hard time and then people will emerge that much more quickly. The second thing that I want to point out with city driving is at red lights. So it is tempting to get distracted and to look elsewhere, whether it's going through your purse or whether it's checking your phone. But I implore you that if you're going to do that at a red light, which you shouldn't be doing, but if you're going to do it to regularly check on the light to make sure it hasn't changed. Because let me tell you, this is the bane of my existence going home from work because there is one stoplight where I have to make a left turn. And it is a very short green light for the left turn. And you can tell the people who have not taken this light before because they won't go they'll be distracted. And also few cars can get through if we don't go hungry. And so be considerate of the people behind you who might be in a hurry or might be trying to get to where they want to go. And don't take your eyes off the stoplight for too long. It's tough because I will be honest that I give a a healthy count to three. But if people are not going at that point, they're clearly not paying attention and I'm on the horn and so yeah, just keep an eye on the light so that you're not holding up everyone who's behind you. I think that's it for city driving. Those are the big tips that I've noticed while I'm driving. The other little minor thing would be try not to veer lanes like I know that some cars are really big for lanes, but try to do your best not to get in other people's lanes because it's annoying to feel like you're gonna get sideswiped by a car that's not staying in their lane. All right, as a refresher for city driving, when merging, think about the zipper method. And at red lights, don't look at other stuff. But if you are going to look at other stuff, please check back on the stoplight to make sure that it hasn't changed. And then also be mindful of where you are in your lane so that you're not merging into someone else's Lane unintentionally. But if you are going to merge, use your blinker. All right team, let's get into the big one that causes me so much grief. And that is highway driving. highway driving is so necessary, it's so critical, it has the potential to be so smooth. And yet we mess it up a lot. So it's also really important to be mindful on the highway, because we are going so fast, right, you increase the chance of something really bad happening. And I think it's really important to remember that when we are driving, we are operating heavy, dangerous machines that require skill and attention. And to not think of it that way, I think is naive. And we obviously have so many incidents, so many deaths that are due to car crashes. So we do need to be careful. But back to highway driving, there are a handful of things I have here that I'd love for us all to pay attention to. So the first is to maintain your speed up and down hills. It is very aggravating to be behind a car and you're both doing the same speed and it's going smoothly and it's great. And then you start going up hill, and suddenly you're dropping by three, five, 10 miles an hour, because the person in front of you seemingly isn't applying any more gas to get up the hill. And if we're going uphill, all of a sudden, we need to fight gravity and we need to add more gas pedal. So that can definitely be frustrating. And at the same time, try not to go super fast or on the downhill. Because the inconsistency in speed is where it gets really hard for cars around you to gauge what you're doing to get into a good flow. And I really believe that highway driving the goal should be to have a good flow that's consistent so that you have the smoothest journey. And if you're slowing down or speeding up, it just makes it hard for people around you. The second thing that I want to talk about with highway driving that is debated it's debated. Ben talks about that this is what he was taught in Europe. And it makes sense to me. But I will be honest, this is not the most cut and dry thing. But it's when we're merging like onto a highway. Maybe think about merging closer to the end of the merge lane to facilitate a smoother flow of the mergers. Because if we think about it, let's say we have a, I don't know how long they are 200 foot merge area. If you're trying to merge right at the beginning, we're more likely to have to come to a stop to find the entry point. And then we're more likely to backup the people behind us. And I'm just I'm just thinking about this here thinking out loud. And so if we do try to merge further to the end, then we might be able to just have a more consistent flow and give people more of a heads up who are in the right lane of the highway that we're trying to merge. If we come on, and we're just suddenly trying to get in the lane, it doesn't give the people in the right lane much time to react to seeing us trying to get on the highway. Now one of my friends said, Well, what if you get to the end of it, and you still haven't been able to merge? And like, yeah, you'd have to stop, but at least you're stopping and not blocking the whole merging lane. So again, that's debatable. Would love your take on it. But once he said that, I was like This seems so smart. The third thing to think about with highway driving and people. If there is nothing else that you take away from this episode, I hope that you sear it into your brain and that everyone sees it into their brain that we should stay right except to pass. Yes, that is right, stay in the right or middle lane except to pass. And once you have passed a car, if you're in the left lane, move right back to the right lane. Because the smoothness of the flow of traffic and the ability for faster cars to get by if they want for slower cars not to impede traffic. The best way to do that is to keep the left lane open, there's that clear path where you can go somewhere or you have an out if something happens in the right lane. It is just so much nicer and so much more convenient, on top of it being smoother for the flow of traffic, typically, if you think about where we sit in America, where we sit on the left side of cars, if you're sitting on the left side of your car and you're in the left lane, you're really limiting how much of your overall scope and view you have of the entire highway especially if it's a three or four lane highway, it's going to be really hard for you to be aware of what's going on in the right lanes. Whereas if you're further to the right, you're then centering yourself more on the highway and able to see quite a bit more so it's better for your overall awareness of what's going on on the highway. And it means that when people want to go faster than you or if people just want to get by, they're going to be able to do I also a part of part of this and a part of keeping the left lane open is to look in your rear view mirror regularly, I swear there must be people that do not look in their mirror at all. Because I find it anxiety inducing to know that there's a car really close behind me trying to get by, or if there's a long lit train of cars, and I realized, like, I'm the only one blocking them like that, that makes me uncomfortable. And maybe I'm, maybe that's not everyone, but makes me uncomfortable. And so I don't know if people just don't look and don't see that if they don't care, I don't know. But please look in your rearview mirrors regularly one for your safety, but also just if there are people behind you a line of cars move over so that they can they can pass especially oh my goodness, especially if it's around a semi truck the worst. The worst is when someone's going their normal speed and they get to right to like the left rear of the semi truck, and then they slow down because they don't want to pass they're nervous to pass whatever it might be. And then you're just blocking everyone. And then we're all at higher danger of having an issue with the semi truck because a truck will win in a collision with a car. So just get by, just get by. Okay, this feels obvious to me this last bit about highway driving, but I see it all the time, especially in North Carolina. If you miss your exit on the highway, don't pull into the shoulder and then back up to try to make your exit. that is dangerous and that is stupid. Just go to the next exit and then turn around. Alright, so as a recap for highway driving, try to maintain your speed up and down hills. And in general, just maintain your speed, merge closer to the end of the merge Lane, stay right except to pass, look in your rearview mirrors regularly and don't back up on a shoulder on a highway. The last thing I want to talk about in this episode is driving on country or back roads. So you know we're you know, you're taking a mountain vacation, you're on this mountain road, maybe you're not as comfortable through the twisty and turny roads, or you just want to look at what's going on Look at the pretty scenery, that's totally fine. But if you notice that there's someone right behind you, or that there are a line of cars behind you, please please please, please just be a good lad or good lass and pull off either into a safe shoulder or into the pullout lanes or to vista point so that those line of cars can get by you and that you're not obstructing their flow. You know, not everyone wants to look at the scenery, not everyone is going to have the same driving capacity. And they might be able to take the roads a little faster. So it's not at all a reflection of your driving. It's just, you know, just we don't need to block cars. So if you see cars behind you kindly move out of the way that's my only note for country or back roads. It's like, why would you want to have a whole line of cars behind you just let them go. We can be empathetic towards people, we can want other people to enjoy their driving experiences like we're enjoying ours. So that is that is my thought on the country road. Friends. I feel like this was a great therapy session. And I'm so pleased that I was able to be Auntie Julia and share what I think makes driving a little bit better. Again, it blows my mind that we do not educate properly on how to make such a large form of transportation more smooth for everyone because I think everyone would be happier and we might have less accidents. But that is a battle that I cannot fight by myself. So thank you for considering these things. As a reminder for all the tips kind of put into one we need to be sure to pay attention and not zoned out in our cars, use our blinkers be conscious of our lights, when we're merging, use the zipper method, at red lights, please look at the light to make sure it hasn't already changed green maintain our speeds merge closer the end of the merge Lane stay right except to pass don't back up on the highway and look in your mirrors regularly so that if you see a lot of people behind you, you can move over so that they can get by and then everyone is happier. And you look like such a good person for being considerate of the people around you. Friends. That is our show. Thank you so much for indulging me on this semi educational semi rant episode. And I hope that you will share this with as many people as possible so that other people can understand some smoother ways to drive that are well within the legal limit. Notice we didn't talk about going too fast. We didn't talk about doing anything that isn't legal. Like this is just all how do we make it smoother for other people. So thank you. Please subscribe to the podcast, leave a review leave a rating and I look forward to seeing you next week.