Please, follow these simple rules

Published 10:07 pm Monday, July 4, 2011

Now that the extended Fourth of July weekend is over, I’d like to take this opportunity to make a public service announcement.

Here’s the announcement: Some of you need to learn how to drive.

If you’ve ever sat frustrated in a traffic backup, this doesn’t apply to you. This applies to those of you who think you’re good enough to skirt the unwritten rules that govern traffic etiquette in Hampton Roads.

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All of these rules were flagrantly violated last weekend on Interstate 64 westbound, when I was on my way to a baby shower in Williamsburg. Already running late because my battery had died and had to be jumped, I hit no fewer than four backups between Norfolk and Williamsburg. I cried on the inside for the people who found themselves unable to obey these rules.

Rule No. 1: If you know ahead of time that the lane you’re in is ending ahead, for whatever reason, move over. If everybody followed this rule, there wouldn’t even be a traffic backup at the bottleneck, because there would be nobody sitting five inches from the traffic cones waiting to edge into the line of people who followed the rule.

Rule No. 2: If, for some reason, you were unable to obey Rule No. 1, you make it a lot easier on yourself if you turn on your turn signal, make eye contact with drivers who followed the rule and smile sheepishly. Don’t expect to be let in automatically. You didn’t follow the rule.

Rule No. 3: If anybody lets you in, you must wave. If you don’t, as a famous comedian once said, it should be perfectly legal to run you off the road.

Rule No. 4: If there’s an accident or a broken-down car on the side of the road, don’t slow down to check it out. At one of the aforementioned backups last weekend, there was a separate wreck that was clearly caused by a driver rear-ending the people in front of her because she was rubbernecking.

Rule No. 5: This applies to traffic everywhere, and it’s something I see especially often on Route 58 in Suffolk: Don’t throw your cigarette butt onto the road. It makes the area look grungy. If the car behind you has their window open, the driver could get hit in the face with the still-burning ashes. And did you ever think about what happens if the car behind you has a gas leak?

Thanks for listening to my rant. And please, try to obey these rules in the future. I’m sure most of you already do.