Tag Archives: driving

The Car Sign: A Way to Communicate With the Drivers Behind You

Driving in high-stress, often touch-and-go traffic situations has always annoyed me, but not just for the more obvious reasons of gridlock and drivers behaving badly. I have long wanted a way to communicate with other drivers beyond a horn honk or hand gestures, both of which can be taken in wrong or aggressive ways. I often feel the need to explain what I’m doing, or to apologize for braking too soon, etc.

Thus, I have an idea: what if there were a way to put a small LED sign in the back window of cars, to flash up a few pre-programmed messages to warn the driver(s) behind us or around us?

To illustrate, I’ve created a few graphics to display a few helpful messages:

This would be a great multi-purpose message–short and to the point, covering anything from cutting someone off to braking or swerving suddenly.

Lord, how I have NEEDED this sign in times past…more to warn the drivers behind me that I might make sudden turns or brake suddenly upon missing my turn. LOL!

Sometimes, drivers behind you might not be aware that another car is trying to change lanes or merge into traffic–this message would keep them from being so frustrated at the otherwise-unexplainable slowdown.

Good for those “gotta-gun-it-to-get-on-the-road-right-now” moments…

To politely remind the driver behind you that you’re aware of his/her rudeness.

Sometimes, it would really pay off to warn the drivers behind you that there’s a really erratic driver up ahead, no matter what the cause of such behavior.

Most important at night, when some folks seem to love keeping their brights on AND tailgating at the same time, utterly blinding you by way of your rearview mirrors. (If you do this to others, know that it’s not going to make them go any faster–it actually might make them slow down further because they can’t see!)

Because I literally do worry about being hit by large vehicles–drivers of said large vehicles don’t seem to notice us small-car drivers as much, and come pretty close to shaving my doors off more often than I like.

I’ve never understood why some drivers, even given the chance to go around on a multi-lane highway, tend to stay behind a slow driver, tailgating and flashing their lights. This sign would be a good way to politely tell such drivers to stop being highway pests.

A little calming message for anxious or frustrated drivers. We could use a little positivity on the road!

Bonus: (Funny) Signs You Probably Shouldn’t Put on a Car Sign

However, while creating these graphics, I came up with a few messages that would probably not solve any problems (but would be pretty funny):

‘Cause it’s always funny to see that driver who was being annoying and bossing you around a few minutes before suddenly being pulled over by the law. Vicarious revenge.

A less polite version of my earlier tailgating warnings…

For those drivers who like to use their horns a lot, especially when they are annoyed with you.

Know what I said earlier about small cars vs. SUVs? Yeah. This wouldn’t make the situation any better, but it’s what I usually say behind the wheel anyway. (I’m occasionally snarky in traffic, LOL)

Sometimes, it might help to humanize the traffic situation with a little humor. But, then again, you might be mistaken as flirting with the driver behind you, too. Whoops!

Because if you observe the driving habits of some folk, it does make you worried… 😉

You’re Talking to the Champion of Getting Lost

Yeah, I’m a bit infamous for losing my way, especially when trying to find my way to a place for the first time without knowing what any of the landmarks look like. Street names and numbers are excellent pieces of information on paper, but if I can’t connect those numbers and names to what a physical place looks like, I might just drive up and down the street a few times trying to find the next turnoff.

Before Google Street View existed, there were several epic-fail jaunts I found myself on…let me tell you of them.

Whoops, I Was Supposed to Go West

One Saturday evening a couple of years ago, my boyfriend and I were leaving from the comics and collectibles shop about 40 miles from home, in Gastonia, NC. We went and got something to eat in the downtown area, and from there, I reckoned that we should turn left out of the parking lot onto Franklin Boulevard to get back home.

…But about 45 minutes after turning left, we were driving on into the darkness, and none of the street signs looked familiar. I’d come this way many times, but never this late at night. In desperation, I finally called Dad (our resident navigator); the nearest street sign told me that I was on Highway 74 heading east from Gastonia.

“East?!” Dad spluttered over the phone when I told him this. “Good Lord, honey, you’re halfway to Belmont by now!” Belmont, as you might have gathered by now, is in the total opposite direction of home. We had spent 45 minutes going the wrong dang way, and I, in my bullheaded sense that I knew where I was going, had kept us going past all the unfamiliar scenery as darkness fell.

We easily got turned around and started going west, quickly reaching the outskirts of Gastonia again, and soon we were back in familiar territory. (My boyfriend got to do a well-deserved “I told you so” after this–he had been the one to sound the first warning that something wasn’t right about our route home. I know to listen to him now, as well as to listen to my own doubts and intuitions!)

Can You Tell Me How to Get–How to Get to This Address?

While I was still in college in Greensboro, NC, I had made Internet contact with a really nice guy who went to Furman University down in South Carolina, and we wanted to start dating. Since my home is a hop, skip, and jump from the SC state line, it seemed a simple thing to schedule our first date for a time when I would be home from college for the weekend.

So, on a Friday afternoon, after I had already made the 2 1/2-hour drive back from college to home, I was heading down I-85 South to Greenville, SC, confident that I had correct directions and knew all the twists and turns I needed to take to get to the Furman campus. I took all the exits off the main highways that I needed to, got into the correct lanes, and all of that…except that the college campus was nowhere to be found.

A frantic 1 1/2-hour search for Furman University ensued, as I drove tensely through the thickest portions of inner Greenville, tears working their way out of my eyes as minutes passed with no familiar street names. Somewhere–I wasn’t sure where–I had made a terrible mistake, even though I knew I had taken all the roads I was supposed to according to the directions I’d gotten from Mapquest. Instead of ending up at the college campus, I was lost in suburbia.

I pulled a couple of epic U-turns in this search, pulling onto a deserted four-lane residential road long enough to whoop around in the middle of the street, and even turning around in a business parking lot without even pausing to make it a 3-point turn. (I love my little car’s turning radius. <3) At this point, I had been lost for over an hour, and I was increasingly frightened--even Daddy couldn't tell me where I was, and I was a single girl alone in a strange city. Not to mention that my cell phone signal kept going in and out, making me miss worried calls from my would-be date, who was getting quite concerned by this time. At some point, I finally pulled over into a parking lot in front of a rather dilapidated strip mall, and I went into a barber shop, which happened to be the only business still open at this time of night. After a moment's hesitation, I walked in, realizing how vulnerable I was as I did so--I was a lone female in what didn't look like the best part of town, with darkness falling. Fear bit at me as I opened the door...would I find any help from the five older gentlemen seated inside? But it seemed God had directed me to just the right barbershop. The fatherly owner of the shop, after hearing my tearful explanation of the problem (along the lines of "Can somebody tell me where Furman University is?!"), was able to tell me that the road I was looking for had actually changed names halfway through Greenville, and it was now known as Poinsett Highway out this far. And, as he put it, "Darlin', you ain't too far off from Furman now--you only lack 'bout a mile!" The others agreed, and sought to put my mind at ease. I probably looked a mess, with mascara running down my face, my nose all red from crying, and my eyes all puffed out, but they were sympathetic, and I was grateful for it. They pointed me to continue down the road I had been on, and I saw as I left the building that indeed the road name was Poinsett Highway. (Never been so relieved to see a street sign in my life. LOL) Within a few minutes after getting back in my car and onto the road, I did indeed find the exit that led into Furman University. (My date was standing outside the dorm, and looked so relieved to see me pull up that I think he about fell over. And our date went well, even if it did start two hours later than anticipated. xD)

Random Left Turn of Fail

My boyfriend and I had taken a trip up to Lake Lure, NC, to have a picnic out in the beautiful countryside surrounding the lake. It had been a favorite family destination as a child, and I wanted to share that with my awesome wub. Though the day was a little grayer and chillier than we expected, we still had good food and good conversation outside under the shade of one of the picnic shelters nearby.

When it came time to head back toward home, I threaded my way back through the route around the lake, and made a left at the intersection we had come into the area on, starting our trip back home. Or so I thought.

About 10 minutes later, we started seeing signs for Asheville, NC, as well as Bat Cave, NC (a real town, I promise!). “Uh-oh,” I said, passing the third of such signs. “I think we might be going the wrong way…”

“Why?” my boyfriend asked.

“‘Cause, um…we’re headed toward Asheville instead of away from it,” I said, sheepishly. “Wish I’d realized this about 5 minutes ago…”

By this time, though, my boyfriend was well aware that I could find a way out of the mess as easily as I found my way into it, and he shrugged. “Well, we’ll just find a place to turn around, and we’ll be good to go–you haven’t made any other turns, so we’ll probably just have to go back to that one intersection we remembered from before,” he said.

But finding a place to turn around on curving mountain roads proved much more difficult. I kept looking for gas stations or parking lots or ANYTHING that I could just whoop into and whoop back around…but the mountainside sloped sharply down away on our left side, and only houses were on the right. Asheville crept closer the farther we looked, and we were gathering quite a crowd of drivers behind us since we were going slowly along the curves.

Finally, we sighted, on the side of the road, a blue-graveled parking lot of sorts, barely even wide enough for one car to park perpendicular to the old building it lay in front of. I darted into it, sighing with relief–and then saw the sheer impossibility of using it to turn around. There was no room to back up and change direction; if I tried to do a 3-point turn, I’d take out a wall of the old building to our right. And yet, the road was narrow. If I tried to do a U-turn, I could end up hitting the guard rail. Not to mention that there was traffic flying from both directions.

After a minute or so of sitting there, the road cleared, and I told my boyfriend, “Hang on.” Then, from a dead stop, I turned the wheel as left as it would go, and slowly, sloooowly, crept onto the road, barely even using any gas. My little car eased gently across the near lane, then slid into the far lane (which became the “right lane” to us), never even so much as grazing the guard rail or dipping its tire off the road. (Have I said how much I love my little car’s turning radius? :D)

I have to give my wub some credit here–he didn’t even flinch as we got close to the other side of the road, though his hand stayed clenched around the armrest. LOL! At last, we were finally pointed in the right direction, and we got back to the fateful intersection, this time making the turn back toward home rather than more unknown territory. (Road signs are wonderful things. Just sayin’.)


I have been incredibly lucky not to have any major fails (or accidents/dangerous situations) than these–mainly, these stories remind me to pay attention to road signs, double/triple-check my route, and ask for directions if I have to. But they’re also funny stories to tell on myself, because book smarts do not always equal road smarts. 😛

Driving like a Ninja

In my little Ford Focus ZX3, I usually tool around town driving as defensively and carefully as possible. Of course, there is the odd moment where I am not focused on the road (phone ringing or preventing things from taking a tumble into the floorboard), but for the most part, I do my best to stay alert. This is very difficult in an age where we are all supposed to be hyper-accessible to other people no matter what we’re doing, and we’re all supposed to stay updated on absolutely EVERYTHING that happens every day.

Not only that, I use my car’s small size to maneuver in and out of traffic a lot more easily. Even though I have been in a couple of minor accidents (very, VERY minor–no injury and only a bit of damage), through God’s grace I’ve been able to avoid thousands more accidents. Sometimes I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be able to stop in time–and sometimes, I’ve thanked God that I looked up or noticed something when I did.

This is what I call “ninja-driving”–scooting away from danger and getting where I need to be as safely as possible. It involves quite a bit of alertness, a large helping of creative driving skills, and lastly (and most importantly), a lot of divine blessings. 😀

An Old-School Example of Ninja-Driving from My Family

I suppose ninja-driving runs in the family. A funny family anecdote goes something like this:

My grandfather was driving my grandmother, mom, and dad to a backyard barbecue in the community. They arrived, and he was trying to park in the hosts’ car-crowded front yard. The only way to get to the last piece of usable yard space (it was a BIG barbecue!) was to drive straight between two other cars, which at first looked too close together to get through.

Without a pause, Granddaddy slowly advanced toward the cars, and the narrow space between them. Gran and Mom were in the backseat of the car and saw what he was intending to do–they both gasped.

He laughed. “I’m not gonna worry till I hear my son-in-law holler.” And the car slid straight through without a scratch or bump on either side. 🙂

I don’t know if I’ve inherited much of Granddaddy’s abilities, but I do like to call my little car the “ninja car,” because its small size and decent pickup speed has helped it escape much danger (and thus, I stay safer, too).

How Do You Define “Ninja Driving?”

I like to think driving like a ninja includes the following:

  • Aggressive use of brakes (i.e., not being afraid to brake if it will avoid an accident). If the person behind you is too distracted to stop or too busy tailgating you to pay attention to your brakes, that’s not your problem. What would be your problem is if you let yourself be intimidated and ran into the back of someone else.
  • Tapping brakes to alert drivers behind you–flashing red lights usually attract attention, and it’s easier to hit than your hazards. I use this when I’m coming up on a traffic situation I’m unsure of, just in case the guy/gal behind me isn’t paying much attention.
  • Using the side of the road (carefully) as a way to avoid an accident–just don’t hit the brakes when your tire goes off-road, and don’t rush to get back on the road. Let off gas, glide onto side of road, then glide back on when it’s safe. Easy does it. Don’t get too nervous when you hear and feel the noise of your tire being off-road–trust me, your car will survive it much better if you don’t get nervous.
  • Watching your mirrors, all the time. I watch my rearview mirror (out of peripheral vision) almost as much as I watch what’s coming up ahead of me. Keeps tabs on tailgaters, rapidly accelerating people, people who don’t know what “STOP” means, etc.

    (This saved my life at a stoplight late one night–a transfer truck blew through a red light that I had been stopped at, until I looked in my rearview mirror and thought, “That guy doesn’t look like he’s going to stop.” I inched over into the left-turn lane instead, and a few seconds later, the truck barreled straight through the intersection. He would have totaled me and my little car both had I not seen him and moved.)

  • Taking back roads if it would mean avoiding a very difficult intersection or difficult turn.
  • Avoiding driving at night unless I have to–people seem to “forget” how to drive at night.
  • In very heavy rain, using hazard lights. Sometimes, that’s the only way people can see you in their rearview mirror when the world around their cars is veiled with a gray curtain of rain!


Driving is not just a skill, it’s an art…and like any art, it takes practice. Though I know I’ll never be as awesomely ninja as a stunt driver, a girl can dream–while avoiding accidents!

Texting and Driving


About texting and driving: Who do you need to talk to so badly that you’re willing to risk your life to do it?

I say this because I know people who text and drive all the time, and I’ve even tried it myself. But having tried it–and almost causing a couple of accidents because of it–I don’t understand why people continue to do it. I definitely understand that the conversation is important, and it’s REALLY tempting to try to carry on a text conversation as soon as you receive a message, but personally, I’d rather not have a half-finished text message as my last act on Earth.

The REAL Dangers of Texting and Driving: Distracted Driving

This infographic from TextingAndDrivingSafety shows how dangerous this is. When you text, you’ve spent at least 5 seconds not looking at the road, which means you’re covering a lot of ground while not even looking where you’re going. This causes over a million crashes every year, as this Google search will show you.

Anybody, even the most skilled driver, becomes an erratic driver when their attention is focused elsewhere. You can just tell when there’s a distracted driver ahead of you–they weave between their lane lines (and sometimes cross them), they are either driving way too slow or way too fast for the speed limit, and they either brake randomly or tailgate like crazy. Texting/distracted drivers scare the heck out of me, and for good reason. Thus, I don’t want to scare other drivers with my behavior.

How to Safely Read (NOT ANSWER) A Text While Driving

ONLY in emergency situations, if you are waiting for a text to tell you which hospital to go to, or where you need to be ASAP, here is a procedure I have followed:

  1. Make sure there are few to no other cars around (i.e., you’re not on a major highway)
  2. Make sure you are on a straightaway and there are no curves or lack of road shoulders ahead
  3. Hold the phone up on top of the steering wheel with one hand, so you can glance quickly down at the message and then glance back up. You should spend 4 of every 5 seconds looking at the road ahead.

Notice that I did not say “answer the text”, but “read the text.” If you need to ANSWER the text, pull over onto the side of the road or into a well-lit parking lot to do so, because this is not something you should attempt while the car is moving. (Trust me, I consider myself a master of multitasking, and yet when I tried to text I felt like I was completely out of control of the car. I couldn’t put the phone away fast enough.)

The Moral:

Don’t type a text while the car is moving–keep yourself AND others safe on the road!