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> Go with the Flow
  How to Merge
  Looking Ahead

Go with the Flow

I've talked about many different ways to be clever when driving, but let's face it, most of the time when you're driving you're going to be highly constrained, packed in with a bunch of other cars with no room to be clever. To deal with that environment, you need to have a “go with the flow” mindset available so that you can be patient and exist happily within the flow of traffic. If you're determined to be clever, or worse, in a hurry and determined to go fast, it won't gain you anything, it will just lead to anger and frustration and the dark side.

Actually, it's not enough just to have the mindset available; you need to have it available on short notice. You ought to be able to turn it on and off like a light! Maybe one minute you'll be zipping across town on the highway, passing cars left and right, and the next you'll be totally stuck in traffic behind a recent accident. Or maybe you'll be driving cross-country on the interstate and happen to arrive at a big city right at rush hour; or maybe you'll be going 70 down a rural highway and have to slow down to 25 to pass through a town. Oh, and don't forget construction areas! Sometimes there's a bit of room for planning ahead and avoiding things like that, but once you're entangled in one, it's usually too late.

It's no coincidence that half my examples involve transitions from highway to city driving. As a first approximation, when you're on a highway you're free to be clever, but when you're in a city you have to be patient. As a second approximation, we can change “on a highway” to “on a highway and able to pass” … in other words, “on a multilane highway with moderate traffic or on a single-lane highway with low traffic and good visibility”. When you're on that kind of highway, you have a lot of control over your speed and position; the rest of the time, all you control is what lane you're in and what route you take.

Finally, I'd like to point out that being patient isn't the same as being passive. Even when you don't have a lot of control, you still need to pay attention to what's going on around you; see Being Aware and Looking Ahead. There are even a few other memes for good driving that still apply, notably Circulation and Preserving Options.


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@ November (2011)