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How to Drive Like a Man: Making a Space

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?  George Carlin

Sorry, ladies, but driving is a quintessential male activity. This is not to say that women aren’t good drivers when compared to men, of course. Ahem. (Apologies, Eva.) But I digress. Already.

In this, the first installment of How to Drive Like a Man, I am going to discuss the art of making a hole. Making a hole can not only assist in creating a feeling of well-being, of serenity, while driving, it can save your life. Have you ever been cut off, only to find that you cannot swerve to the left because someone has been driving in your blind spot? (You should not have blind spots, but I’ll teach you how to use your mirrors correctly in another installment of How to Drive Like a Man.)

Cars to the left of me, cars to the right. And, here I am, stuck in the middle with you. Stealers Wheel, sort of.

You see it all the time. People tend to drive in packs. In bunches. Like sardines. Close, teeming, maelstroms of cars grouped together in hordes, all jockeying for a position one car further up the road. But, not only is this claustrophobic and infuriating, it is dangerous. It is most often caused by someone who is traveling in a passing lane without…you guessed it…passing. But this isn’t the only cause. Much of the time, the left lane of a three-lane highway is clear, and people still travel in these packs.

It’s as if some atavistic need to form bonds and live in villages is played out on America’s highways. Doubt me? Conduct the following experiment:

The next time you are traveling when traffic is light, match the speed of a car ahead of you. Make sure to be back well enough to not appear to be passing. After two or three minutes, start to pass. If you were each doing 65 mph, speed up to 70, and keep it there until you pass them. Do this unobtrusively, non-aggressively. Do not pass too quickly, but be sure to keep your speed steady. Use cruise control if you have it.

Here’s what happened. The car you passed sped up. It may have sped up while you were passing it. It may have started as you were getting close. But it sped up. It is most noticeable when, after you have passed them, and moved over to the right again, they are on your tail. And traveling at 70 mph. Just like you were.

So what? So the car you just passed is not only causing the rubber-banding that creates traffic jams, but is also driving dangerously. It isn’t brain surgery. Cars that are further apart from each other tend not to hit each other.

So, how do you drive like a man? You make a hole.

I have been stopped by troopers, sheriffs, and county police officers for weaving through traffic. (I tend to be claustrophobic in moron-caused-traffic.) Each time, when I’ve explained that I was making a hole, I have been allowed to go with only the admonition to “take it easy, ok?” I do not mention this to advocate breaking any laws, or to drive dangerously. I merely mean to suggest that the law enforcement officers I have encountered in the last 30 years of driving have understood the concept of making a hole.

And, not for nothing, this applies outside the car the same way. Don’t stand so close to the person in front of you at Starbucks that they can feel your breath on the back of their neck. When given a choice of five empty tables at a restaurant, or in the library, or anywhere else, don’t choose the one right next to mine. It’s just bad form.

Be aware of your surroundings. Be considerate of others’ personal space. On and off the road.

Drive like a Gentleman.

Scott Fine