The street smarts of allowing extra space between you and other road users

The California Driver Handbook instructs drivers to make sure they have plenty of room to make various movements, such as turns and lane changes. Today, Street Smarts urges motorists to follow the other part of that rule, too, and allow extra room for others on the road to do what they need to do, as well. This goes beyond the typical “Share the Road” messages you may hear. Rather, it’s based on observations I and my readers have made recently while traveling in our vehicles. My tip of the day: If the vehicle in front of you is traveling erratically, slow down and give its driver space to figure it out. Doing so could prevent an ugly situation. For example, a dangerous situation occurred last Wednesday when a driver, who had positioned herself in a right turn lane, decided she needed to go straight, instead. She neither signaled nor sped up as she drifted into the space I was occupying. At the next intersection, where I had planned to turn right, her straight-traveling vehicle suddenly turned right in front of me. That turn was onto a freeway on-ramp that had two lanes that merged into one before a near 180-degree right turn into a short accelerating lane onto the highway. In an attempt to get away from her antics, I used the left lane to pass her, but I had to slow down for that hairpin turn. She did not. Hearing her engine accelerating, I slowed down even further. She passed me, took the curve too fast, entered my lane and almost overturned in the dirt between the ramp and the freeway. She recovered and disappeared on the freeway. An observation submitted by a Street Smarts reader reminds motorists that school is back in session, so stop when school buses flash their red lights. The red lights mean children may be crossing the street. Disobeying those lights could result in a fine of $635, or worse -- striking a child. Meanwhile, Pete Peterson of Driver’s Yoga suggests motorists give older drivers more space. “While following an elderly woman recently, I watched how she drove exactly at the posted speed limit,” said the man who teaches drivers how to keep their minds focused on the road. “I backed off and gave her room. I could see that she was much more comfortable. Avoiding our own frustration by being courteous to elderly drivers is a whole lot better for the driving public than to cause an elderly person to become flustered because of our own poor habits.” This month, Driver’s Yoga will be 10 a.m. to noon Thursdays, Sept. 9, 16 and 23 -- at the Pacific Cultural Center, 1307 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. The cost is $20, plus a $5 materials fee. To register, call 332-4022. AARP also is offering seniors tips on driver safety. The two-day class is 12:3-4:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and 28 at the Watsonville/Aptos Adult School, 294 Green Valley Road. Cost is $12 for members and $14 for non-members. Register at 786-2360.
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