Don’t knit while you drive,otherroadrules

My friend was visiting a small city when she found herself waiting to turn left at a busy intersection without the benefit of a traffic light. Time passed. The driver behind her grew restless and decided to help by nudging her car’s bumper with his truck’s bumper. How thoughtful.

As you can imagine this helped immensely. Not really. Now instead of looking forward watching for a break in traffic, my friend was watching her rearview mirror. More time passed.

I don’t know how the story ended but I do know it ended since at the time of this writing my friend is not still sitting at that intersection. I also know she now plans all of her trips to avoid left turns.

Obviously, the other driver in this example needed drivers et. No, not driver ed as in driver education. I mean driver et as in driver etiquette. Here are some of the rules one would learn in driver et if it were a real class as I think it should be.

Rule #1. Do one thing at a time. When I learned to drive, the rule was keep both hands on the wheel. We’re so busy these days, we’re lucky to have one knee guiding the wheel. Here are three pointers that should help you keep your priorities straight while you drive. a) Yes, absolutely, it’s okay to knit or put in your contacts while you’re in a moving car, but only if you’re the passenger. b) If you’re ever forced to choose between spilling a 44-ounce soft drink in your lap or crashing into another vehicle, by all mean spill the drink. c) And finally, no call on your cell phone is so important that it’s worth rear-ending me for.

Rule #2. The term defensive driving does not mean you should get defensive every time someone passes you. Before you start shooting, remind yourself the other driver did not set out that day with the express purpose of annoying you. In fact, they didn’t give you a thought. That’s why they just cut you off.

You must always remember, for every dumb thing that’s been done to you in traffic, you’ve probably done at least one dumb thing yourself. And you probably did it to me.

Rule #3. Yelling, cursing, and lewd gestures should be kept where they belong—in the home and office. The only safe drive-time communication is on your bumper sticker, and even that is questionable.

Curious to find out what a bumper sticker said, I have more than once pulled up very close behind the vehicle displaying it only to find that it said, “If you can read this, you’re too close.”

That brings me to my final three rules, which have less to do with etiquette than with preventing “road rage.” (Road rage, by the way, is just a polite way of saying “driver not accompanied by brain.”) Rule # 4. If you must wear your heart on your bumper, choose your sticker wisely. I can’t be the only driver ever to chase after vehicles sporting particular political slogans because I just had to know what kind of moron could think that way.

Rule # 5. If you are waiting for a car to back out so that you can have their parking place, you should never wait longer than half an hour.

Rule # 6. After going through the line at the automatic teller machine, remember to pull out of the lane before putting your cash and receipt away. This is not the time to make a note of your withdrawal. And it is definitely not the time to balance your checkbook. Dorothy Rosby is the author of four books of humorous essays including Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time. Contact her at www.