The holiday season is upon us, and whether you’re a Happy Honda-days or a Toyotathon is on household, we’re all subject to the same chaos on the roads. I feel like I’ve got a few years under my belt by now, and the holiday season also seems to ratchet up the stress and anxiety of other road users. This is your chance to recognize their bullshit, try to avoid it, and not contribute your own bullshit to the chaos.
- Holy shit, the days are short now. I usually leave work around 4pm and by the time I’m getting home (4:40) the sun is starting to set. It’s dark when I leave the house and starting to get dark when I get home. It’s dark all the freaking time now. Don’t get caught in the dark with a tinted visor. Carry a clear visor with you, or run it all the time and wear sunglasses as needed. Or maybe you have one of those fancy helmets with the internal sunshade. Plan ahead, whatever solution you decide is best for you.
- Man- everyone’s stressed out, in a rush, distracted by phones and whatever else. Don’t let their bullshit turn into your bullshit. First and foremost- be on high alert around shopping centers, busy intersections, malls, leaving the office parking lot, whatever the busy part of town is for you. Check both ways before leaving a green light. Knock 5mph off your speed (ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE LANE SHARING). Remember- the #1 cause of car-motorcycle wrecks is the car not yielding to the motorcycle. Watch out for left turns across your lane- especially at intersections. Look for cars pulling out of driveways and crossing your lane to go the other direction. Learn how to weave and defeat motion camouflage. Don’t let them get you.
- EVERYONE’S ANGRY. Even I recently broke my #1 road rule- Don’t start an angry confrontation on the road. I was actually in my car and some dickhead started honking at me because I was wasn’t turning into a parking lot because the entrance was blocked. I had nowhere to go and he wouldn’t quit so I lost it. Everything descended into a profanity laced shouting match. It was dumb. I had some external stress that gave me a much shorter fuse than normal, but that could’ve ended really poorly. As someone told me once “Some amount of people on the road are either over or under medicated, and some are carrying a gun.” Let it go.
- Last and maybe most important- Give everyone a little extra grace. I see that meme on the internet all the time how we don’t know what battles other people are fighting. Maybe that Mom is rushing home to get to her kid’s school concert. Maybe that guy has a partner in the hospital. Maybe that kid had a grandparent die recently. Maybe that Dad got laid off 6 weeks before Christmas. Maybe that grandparent doesn’t have someone to drive them to doctor appointments anymore. We all have shit going on and strangers don’t know that. If no one’s hurt, take two breaths, pull over and chill if you need to, and tell the other person “I forgive you.”
Very few things are worth your life on the road.