Five ways to drive properly

| Staff Columnist

As I make my morning commute from an off-campus apartment to Wash. U., I encounter a lot of frustration­—not only at the terribly outdated and inefficient timer-based traffic lights, but also at the complete inability of people to drive. It’s less so a matter of skill or clumsiness as it is about people not following the basic rules of driving. While I would like to say that whenever I encountered these people I found elderly women (and sometimes this is the case), I see far too many people with emblazoned Wash. U. sweatshirts in the driver’s seat. So without further ado, here are five things that you can do to make the streets of St. Louis run more smoothly and efficiently:

1. Follow the speed limit

There really is no excuse to go significantly under the speed limit except in cases of poor driving conditions. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone 15 miles per hour behind a car on Skinker, which does indeed have a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. Skinker is a horrifically slow street, and a major reason is that people drive excruciatingly slowly, forcing everyone behind them to drive slowly as well, resulting in major congestion.

2. Accelerate into turns

I really didn’t know people failed, or even could fail, at this basic tenet of driving. When making a left turn, if not for anything else other than common courtesy, please push the gas pedal slightly when making turns, especially long left turns. This is so when I turn behind you, I’m not stranded in the middle of the street as my turn arrow expires and I block traffic. There’s no reason to brake in the middle of a turn, and it makes those precious turn arrows accommodate far less traffic.

3. Creep up when making left turns

I know that plenty of streets in St. Louis don’t allow people to creep into the middle of the street to make left turns, but people seem to conclude that this is the case for every street. It isn’t. Creeping up to make left turns means more people turning per green light, and less traffic buildup overall—and three or four cars per light is infinitely better than one car, especially on streets with long red lights such as Forest Park.

4. Turn right on red

Again, I know many streets in St. Louis have no right turns on red lights, but a significant amount allow right turns. Take advantage of this: Countless times I’ve been sitting behind three cars with turn signals on that are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs because the person in front won’t make the right turn even when it’s as clear as day to do so. It may only save you two to three minutes per intersection, but it adds up quickly.

5. Accelerate out of stop signs

When at a stop sign, you should come to a complete stop, but please don’t just ride the clutch out of them. This is so cars behind you only have to stop once at a stop sign, instead of stopping behind you, and then moving four feet, only to stop again. Riding the clutch out of a stop sign simply causes a big line to pile up, causing the collective blood pressure of everyone to rise.

Following these simple rules helps everyone out: shortened delays, shorter wait times and shorter commute times, which means more time to actually do things instead of constantly being en route. Drive safely, drive soundly, but don’t drive too slowly.

AJ is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at asundar@wustl.edu.

  • undergrad living off campus

    Alternately, why not just take public transportation? There are Metrobus and/or Metrolink lines connecting most nearby neighborhoods to campus. Sure, the bus isn’t immune to the pressures of traffic, but it’s much less stressful when YOU aren’t dealing with the annoying drivers–and the more people who take public transportation, the fewer cars there are on the road. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly, and you save the cost of gas and parking. A U-Pass is free: use it!