Driving lessons: Six lane highways

Complaining about other peoples’ driving, like complaining about the weather, seems to be ubiquitous to the human condition (at least in the modern age).

Everyone thinks that they understand the rules of driving and the conventions of traffic, and that they drive in the most common-sense way. If only everyone else drove like them, traffic would flow smoothly.

I am no exception.

Now, let me clarify. My husband and I are what you could call aggressive drivers (which is not the same thing as bad drivers, family-of-mine). I am aware that not all people have the, er, gonads to drive like we do. They are easily frightened by changing lanes or taking left turns.

Other people drive differently than we because they have different levels of experience. Many residents of our hometown, Lincoln Nebraska, have no reason to regularly drive a six lane highway. It makes sense that they would have a lower level of comfort as well as a lower level of understanding of how to properly drive on a six-lane highway.

But Wichitans, who drive on a six lane highway on a daily (or at least weekly) basis, should have a basic understanding of how to drive when they have three lanes all going the same direction.

Alas, they do not.

In case you were taught by a Wichitan, or were never taught, how to drive on a six-lane highway, allow me to educate you.

A six-lane highway has three lanes going in each direction. Each of those lanes has a different function.

It would behoove you to think of the outermost lane as the “merging” lane, the middle lane as the “driving” lane, and the innermost lane as the “passing” lane.

Functionally, this means that you should only be in the outermost lane if you are getting onto or off of the highway. You merge onto this lane when you enter the highway, after which you should be looking for the first opportunity to move into the middle “driving” lane. When you want to get off the highway, you merge back from the middle lane into the outermost lane and then to your off-ramp. Getting into the “merging” lane should happen no more than 2 exits from your off ramp. Ideally, you should never pass more than one exit at a time in the outer lane.

Why is this?

Lots of people are getting onto and off of the highway at any given exit. They HAVE to travel through the outermost lane to drive on the highway. If someone is just hanging out in this outermost lane, access onto and off of the highway is impeded, resulting in traffic snarls on and off the highway.

The innermost lane should be reserved for passing and should only be used if you are going faster than the traffic in the center lane. It amazes me that people don’t understand this particular convention.

If you are going at the same speed or more slowly than the driver to your right, that means that anyone who comes up behind you is forced to either slow down or to switch into the (already busy by necessity) outermost lane in order to pass. The more people that are popping in and out of that outermost lane, the more likely it will be for accidents to occur. So, to keep traffic moving and to avoid dangerous snarls, you should only drive in the innermost lane if you are going faster than the traffic in the middle “driving” lane (and if someone comes up behind you going faster than you? You should move into the middle “driving” lane to allow them to pass before moving back to the innermost “passing” lane to pass those who are going even slower in the “driving” lane.)

THAT, my friends, is how you should drive on a six-lane highway.

PSA: Regarding Headlights and URIs

PSA #1: Regarding Headlights

Some of you are lucky enough to own cars that sense available light and automatically turn on their own headlights.

Perhaps you’ve grown so dependent on said mechanism that you don’t even know how to turn on your headlights manually.

Well, please pull out your car’s manual and let’s review.

Because I’ve got a public service announcement for YOU:

Darkness is not the only reason to turn on your headlights.

Other circumstances that make headlights necessary include conditions of low visibility due to falling or blowing snow, fog, or sunset.

While you might not need your headlights to see the road, the drivers opposite need your headlights to see you.

Please, think through whether you need your headlights this winter–and drive safely!

PSA #2: Regarding Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs)

While a doctor was rounding in one of our Grand Island facilities, I overheard a bit of information that might be useful.

This doctor said that she hasn’t seen too many cases of influenza yet this year, but EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM occurred in individuals who had received the flu shot.

This suggests that this year’s strain of influenza is not covered by the shot–which means we all need to be cautious to prevent the spread of the virus.


If you or someone in your family develops symptoms of an upper respiratory infection (coughing, sneezing, head congestion, etc.) accompanied by a fever (generally >100 degrees), please do everyone a favor and STAY HOME.

Be especially cautious about exposing children, pregnant women, elderly individuals, and those with compromised immune systems (people who have AIDS or are on chemo, for instance) to this.

When you go to your doctor with symptoms of influenza, you’ll probably be asked to put on a face mask immediately when entering the building in order to guard against infecting others.

Please pay attention to these precautions.

Other than that, as always, wash your hands thoroughly after sneezing, coughing, using the restroom, or changing diapers and before preparing food or eating.

When one line of defense (the flu shot) breaks down, we all have to do our part to keep our overall defenses high.

Please, for your sake and that of your friends and neighbors, do your part to prevent the spread of influenza.

SnOw weenie

It’s official: I am SO a SnOw weenie.

And I’m never going to do THAT again.

THAT being calling off a trip to my facilities in Grand Island the day before based on a weather report.

The snow stopped yesterday, leaving us with 8ish inches of snow.

The roads were being plowed, all was good–but everybody was buzzing about how the winds were supposed to pick up.

So I sent an e-mail to my facilities out of town and told them I’d be postponing my trip out to see them.

I woke up this morning to clear skies and still clear roads. The only possible road hazards were a wee bit of snow and ice on 30 by Central City.

That’s it, I decided. From now on, I wait until the morning of to decide whether to risk the roads or not.

No use messing up my schedule for a danger that doesn’t exist.

sNOw weenie NO more!

Road Rubric

Back when I was commuting (Oh how nice it is to use the past tense there!), I had to get from point A to point B in the shortest possible time. I generally had less than 15 minutes of wiggle room on either end–and generally had to eat, walk to my car, answer student questions or unload my car in that time.

Which meant I spent some time perfecting those little techniques to make sure you get where you’re going fast enough. Techniques like passing all the slow-pokes before the road narrows to one lane. Techniques like passing the MOMENT you have free room (not waiting until a car approaches and causes the passing room you once had to disappear.) Techniques like knowing which car to get behind when there are people stopped in BOTH LANES at a red light.

Do you know which car to get behind?

I’ll let you in on the secret.

You get behind the vehicle that’s going to accelerate faster–er, whose driver is going to accelerate faster.

Which means, if your options are a car and a truck
Choose the car.

If your options are a truck and a minivan?
Choose the truck.

If your options are 2 cars?
Choose the younger driver over the older (unless either is driving a Geo Metro–in which case, get behind the car that’s NOT the Geo Metro.)

If your options are 2 trucks?
Choose the man over the woman.

If your options are 2 minivans?
You’re pretty much doomed.

Thankful Thursday: Journeys and Jobs, Oh Joy!

Today I’m thankful…

…for my job–I’m so glad to be back in the classroom again (as a teacher, that is!)

…for cruise control–with as much traveling as I’ve had to do lately, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

…for Chris Tomlin on my car radio, letting me “multitask” worship and driving :-)

…for a job offer–I enjoyed meeting the care team today and really think I would love working with this facility.

…for an interview–It’s probably my dream job, although it pays significantly less than the offer I’ve already had. Nevertheless, if they deem me their best applicant, they’re willing to wait until January for me. (Which means I might be able to have my cake and eat it too.)

…for lunch with Anna–We’ve been able to lunch together each time I’ve gone up to Columbus for an interview, and it’s so nice to have that informal sister time.

…for being alive despite a brief scare in the car this morning and my incredible drowsiness in the car this afternoon

…for the sermon on humility that met me just where I was at. Just about a year ago, John Piper deviated from his ongoing series in the book of John to talk about humility. It “just happened” to be the next sermon up on my mp3 player this afternoon. (Lord, help me to see the gospel in such a way that would exclude all vain boasting in the flesh.)

…for the Sovereign God, who knows every decision of today, tomorrow, and the rest of my life–and whose hand is in every circumstance that comes my way

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