You pull up to a 2-way stop sign (where the cross traffic doesn’t have to stop, but you do) behind another driver. Your intent is to turn right. Your knuckle-dragging lead driver’s intent is evidently to turn left, as indicated by his properly blinking left turn signal.

However, despite this electric indicator of future directional plans, the vehicle itself is situated so far to the right side of your single lane of pavement that you are convinced that the aforementioned Neolithic individual is most certainly dyslexic in his/her turn signal usage. Surely they intend to lurch 90 degrees clockwise, as opposed to the previously-signaled anti-clockwise path so indicated by their excessively starboard vehicular placement.

But no. They evidently pass up the opportunity to turn right, as made eminently clear by the number of apparent missed opportunities to do so provided by the lack of oncoming traffic from the sinister crossing lane. So they must be turning left, and thus have to be wary of both directions of crossing traffic, so as not to be pulverized by another vehicle – something that begins to cross your mind as you wait in arrears…

Why does this concern you, this way-too-far-over-in-the-right-side-of-the-single-lane-of-traffic-when-it-has-become-obvious-that-the-driver-ahead-of-you-intends-to-turn-left-instead-of-right situation? Because, given the Department of Transportation’s brilliant road layout, the single lane of pavement on which you now sit is essentially 2 lanes wide. It is obviously not a converted horse-cart path, barely wide enough for 1 standard-sized vehicle, let alone two – you know the type, a road so narrow as to cause fire-starting sparks to spew across the asphalt whenever vehicles cross each other in opposite directions, forcing each vehicle to drop the outside tires down onto the dramatically-lower shoulder so as not to cause a front-quarter-panel-into-front-quarter-panel rude introduction.

So, in fact, the road on which you sit, patiently waiting for the Cro-Magnon ahead of you to move his/her right-side-of-the-road-idling automobile out of the way (never mind the fact that this is one of those drivers who refuses to turn if there is an oncoming vehicle anywhere in a 3-state area – something that will be addressed in a later blog), is actually wide enough for 4 cars – or, at the very least, 3.75 cars. What does this mean?

Well, in an ideal world, full of conscientious drivers, the shining example of Homo neanderthalensis snoozing in front of you could actually be in the LEFT side of your lane (to clear up any confusion, we are speaking of U.S. standard traffic patterns, with steering wheels on the left side of the vehicle, and cars driving on the right side of the center divider – if I were to wander off into a discussion about driving in the UK, I would inevitably start rambling on about roundabouts, the bane of my UK driving experiences). If this were indeed the case, it would allow for your vehicle to be in the RIGHT side of your lane – side by side with the Australopithecine now slumbering ahead of you.

Your Piltdown Pavement Pal (couldn’t pass up alliteration like that, especially as our antagonist is a fictional character) could sit in his left-side-of-the-single-lane position until the perpetually wandering cows finally returned to their place of residence, aggravating only those fellow motorists who suffer the misfortune of following this unibrow’s same path to their destination. While you, alertly noticing the more-than-ample (damn, there are certainly a lot of multi-hyphenated strung-on phrases in this one…) space to the dexter of this moron, because you are AWARE of your surroundings, do the conscientious thing and move into said space, stop, look both ways, then turn right to continue on to your next destination.

And this would allow for those behind you, also hoping to go anywhere but the same place as Mr. Ramapithecus (hell, they might actually be crossing both lanes of traffic to proceed directly ahead, instead of turning either way), would be able to follow suit, heeding your example and making use of the excess space alongside this mental midget.

Of course, this would not be applicable to oversize vehicles – that is, anything wider that the space we have already hypothetically carved out in our wider-than-normal city street – say, an Airstream trailer, a Peterbilt tractor (with or without trailer), military convoys hauling an M1 Abrams on a flatbed, or even an AMC Pacer, which, while not a full-sized passenger vehicle, is exceptionally wide. Sorry – for drivers of those vehicles, you are forever at the mercy of Mr. Habilis.

So, back to the reason for all of this – Captain Erectus evidently feels that his undersized automobile (for argument’s sake, let’s just say it’s a Honda Civic – nothing against Honda Civics, just pointing out this is actually somewhat of an undersized vehicle) requires a very wide turning radius in order to successfully maneuver into the lane which he intends to pursue. This addled sack of Palæolithic meat is evidently unfamiliar with the amount of space required to make a turn (can you imagine sitting behind this loon as they try to park their car in a low-overhead parking deck?), and thus overestimates the width requirements on the road, to the detriment of all fellow drivers.

Ultimately, this boils down to a simple admonition: If turning left, your vehicle should hug the center line, regardless of whether or not you’re in a single-lane or multiple-lane situation. And, if your intent is to turn right in such a situation, your vehicle should be hugging the shoulder of the road – blocking the left-turners because you don’t have a clue how to turn right is equally as egregious.

Now, all of this being said, what I propose, though performed hourly by hundreds of thousands of drivers in the US, Canada, and the bulk of the international driving community, may, in fact, be illegal. But that is a non sequitur in this discussion. What is legal and what is right are often two different things. Sorry, didn’t mean to get deeply philosophical there…

Thank you.

DW

c'est moi

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