By Joe Rector

My job as a shuttler for Avis Budget has placed me in the midst of some of the heaviest traffic and worst drivers in the area. I don’t claim to be the best operator of a motor vehicle, but at least I have some concept of the rules of the road. With that in mind, I once again will make some suggestions for motorists in East Tennessee.

1.            Car lights aren’t something that manufacturers place on vehicles for decoration. To the contrary, they are meant to be turned on so that drivers can see what lies ahead of them in the road. Sure, many of our larger streets are illuminated with street lights; however, that doesn’t give any person to the right to barrel down the highways in an unlit missile.

2.            Along the same lines, windshield wipers are used to clear the glass in order to offer the best visibility for the driver of a car. At the same time, the law requires that lights be turned on when windshield wipers are operating. As soon as the headlights come on, others can see a car coming, something that is often quite difficult in wet, sloppy weather. Please give it a try for the rest of our sakes.

3.            Too many people haven’t yet found a wonderful feature on their vehicles. It’s engaged by pushing a lever on the column either up or down. When it is used, magic occurs: a small light on the outside of the car on one side or the other blinks. It’s called a signal light, and it gives other drivers a head’s up that a car is changing lanes or turning off. I hope all will begin to use signals and discover how helpful they can be. However, don’t think for one minute that turning on a signal entitles a driver to automatically move to the other lane. That should only happen when other cars are clear of the moving vehicle.

4.            Tailgating is against the law and can result in horrific accidents. If a driver is tailgating me, he will soon discover that the closer he edges, the slower I go. I am in front of you for one of two reasons. First, I am traveling the speed limit and have no plans of exceeding it to convenience you and risk getting a ticket. Second, other vehicles are in front of me, and I have no way of getting in front of them. Don’t think that I’m going to move over so you can tailgate the next car and bully your way through the traffic. Nope, it “ain’t gonna” happen!

5.            Merging is a lost art in Knoxville and area traffic. The term means that cars move over to open spaces in a lane so others can enter the flow of traffic. Alcoa Highway is filled with drivers who zoom down the pavement in the slow lane and never move over, even though the inside lane is empty. Most of the time, moving over won’t impede a driver’s progress unless he or she is turning into a business within a short distance. Try being a bit kinder and letting others onto the road with you.

6.            The worst thing that drivers around here do is what I call “jump line.” It happens when construction or accidents block one lane of the highway. Too many people think it’s all right to speed up and race to the point where traffic is blocked and then cut in front of others who have patiently waited their turns. Here’s a piece of advice: don’t cut in front of me because I won’t let you in. You might hit me, but I am not rewarding selfish behavior on your part. If you turn on your signal (Ah! There’s that pesky signal again.), I will be more than happy to let you merge if you’ve waited like the rest of us.

A new year is upon us. I hope all of us will commit to driving safer and being more courteous on the roadways. Simply abiding by the things listed above can make traffic run more smoothly. Oh, one last thing is to remember to buckle your seatbelt. Happy motoring!