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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Driving to Distraction   (June 6, 2010)

I've been driving on our Interstate Highway system quite a bit the past few months, on a long run from NJ to SC or vice versa. As a result, I have some observations about our national pastime (high-speed auto driving on public highways, that is). I remember well a cartoon I saw years ago, showing an overhead highway sign spanning several lanes of traffic: "Vehicles obeying speed limit, keep right."

This essay is a listing of a series of observations about the general craziness of other drivers... What's your pet peeve from among the following choices? Or do you have one that I didn't list?  I've seen all of the following repeatedly, and am probably forgetting some. In no particular order:

* Driving in the left lane of an interstate highway when the right lane is empty. As I overtake these vehicles, I move into the left lane behind them and then wonder if they will notice and pull over to the right lane where they should have been all along
* A corollary: Driving in the left lane and refusing to move to the right lane when overtaken by a faster vehicle, forcing the overtaking driver to pass on the right.
* Crossing a solid line to get to another lane. Especially likely to occur in construction zones when traffic is slower and lanes are all marked with solid lines.
* Driving at dusk (and sometimes after dark) with headlights off. Maybe it's my imagination, but dark-colored cars seem most guilty.
* Weaving from one lane to another at very high speeds amongst heavy traffic. This seems to be associated with huge "spoilers" on the rear deck, fancy paint jobs, and general immaturity.
* Speeding in the right lane to pass a group of vehicles that's in the left lane working their way past a slow-moving truck, then squeezing into the left lane just before hitting the truck.
* Slowing down to look at an accident (creating a "rubbernecking delay") (even if all the involved vehicles are well off the highway on the shoulder).
* Driving with speakers set at such a high volume that I can hear their choice of music as well as mine.
* Failure to signal lane changes. A very common fault -- I've seen many police cars that don't signal, and hence don't set a good example.
* Parking on the shoulder without turning on emergency flashers.
* Speeding faster than the usual flow of traffic in rainstorms.
* Motorcyclists driving through traffic jams in the narrow area between lanes.

Finally, a few comments from the diabetes viewpoint. Be sure to have ready access to your blood glucose strips & meter. And keep some rapid-acting carb nearby in case of unexpected lows. The numbers I see on travel days are never predicable due to the combination of hours of forced inactivity, eating at roadside diners, drive-in's and dives, all coupled with increasing mental fatigue as the hours go by. Check your BG more often than usual if you are driving -- and if you are on insulin, be prepared to adjust your doses or eat to treat unexpected hypoglycemia. Anytime you stop to stretch your legs to prevent blood clots (always a good idea!), you might as well check your BG level.
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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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