How to Drive Chicago: Do Not Swerve into Oncoming Traffic to Avoid Potholes

31. Drive. There are 1.8 million potholes in Chicago proper. Do not swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid them. Come on. I’m astonished at how often I see this. If you need to avoid a pothole or any obstruction in your lane, slow down and do it cautiously . You may actually have to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before you maneuver around your pothole. Do not swerve to the left into approaching traffic at full speed causing the driver opposite you to hammer on their brakes. That is just acutely ignorant. The issue is on your side of the road. You’re the one that must yield. 

How to Drive Chicago: Fender Benders 

29. Drive. You’re inching along in traffic. You’re on the text machine. You get into a fender bender while on the expressway. Use your mirrors to acknowledge each other and then… MOVE YOUR CARS TO THE SHOULDER !!!  Do not, I repeat, do not sit in the center lane waiting for the police to arrive and determine who’s at fault. There is no forensic science in this. Police do not need to see the exact position and location of the cars. You are ruining everyone’s morning by causing a huge back up. People are going to be late for work because of you. They are going to miss their flight because of you. Children will die…because of you. 

Be smart. Use your brain.  And yeah, don’t text while driving blah blah blah. 

How to Drive Chicago: Alleys. 

28. Drive. Chicago is a city of alleys. A great deal of us drive in them daily. To exit an alley and enter the street a car must cross a sidewalk fairly blindly. Do it slowly and cautiously with your head on a swivel. Do not punch your car horn twice and zip on out. It startles oncoming pedestrians and irritates the local homeowners. You may think that you’re doing people on foot a service, but I think it’s lazy.  Hitting the horn is not an excuse to swiftly exit the ally.  Walkers with headphones blaring may not hear it. There’s only 1 prudent way to do this and that’s as slowly as possible. No horn needed. 

We’ve already covered this I guess… car horns are irksome. 

How to Drive Chicago: Merge Guilt

27. Drive. When merging into thick expressway traffic from an on-ramp, pick out a car in front of you that’s trying to do the same thing. Let them do your dirty work for you. Once she’s fought her car into traffic pull in front of her and do the same thing. She just did it so chances are she’ll let you in no problem and you don’t need to deal with all the angry drivers behind you. Let’s call it merge guilt. 

How to Drive Chicago: Zipper Merges 

23. Drive. All merges are zipper merges. Think about that phrase “zipper merge” and act accordingly. One car from the left. One car from the right. Do not deviate. Left, right, left, right. Whether you are entering the expressway, merging from 2 lanes into 1, or being redirected by construction, do it. It will speed everything up. 

Let people merge in front of you. It won’t ruin your life. 

How to Drive Chicago: Go Flashing 

22.  Drive. My wife mentioned the other day that my recent blog entries have drifted away from my supposed main theme of city driving. Fine. You want driving? I’ll give you driving. 

If you’re on the expressway, or anywhere for that matter and traffic ahead comes to an unexpected screeching halt, after safely breaking, immediately throw on your hazard lights to warn the vehicle rushing up behind you. It makes a difference and may help you avoid getting rear ended. I’ve been the hazard flasher and the flashee and it’s saved me in both instances several times. 

Love depressing that little triangular button on your center console? Then why not use it to warn the tailgater behind you that you’re about to parallel park. Some drivers simply stop abruptly and throw it in reverse. Others throw on a quick turn signal to halt the driver behind them to allow enough room to reverse and park. It’s often not enough time on crowded city streets. The driver in your wake  is too close. And the driver behind them is too close. Getting the whole chain to reverse is near impossible and you have to abandon your potential parking space. 

Throw on the hazards the second you find an upcoming space. It will warn the driver behind you that there’s something out of the ordinary going on ahead. If you’re lucky  she’ll leave you a little room. 

How to Drive Chicago: honk, beep, baaa

18.  Drive.  Automobile horns exist to alert people who are about to collide. They are not, much to your surprise, fuck you buttons. Resist honking at transgressors several seconds after an illegal move just because you didn’t like it. That’s annoying for everyone. We all know they were wrong. Get over it. Now, a tractor trailor is about to merge on top of you crushing you and your ninos to death….horn. Definitely horn. Someone’s a little slow to accelerate at a green light…. patience. 

How To Drive Chicago: Roll Stop Signs

15. Drive. Go ahead and roll through stop signs. Yeah. That’s right. I said it. Unless, of course, there are other cars or pedestrians present, duh.  The number of stop signs in the city is stratospheric and the constant starting and stopping can’t be good for a car.  And city police have way too much going on to plant themselves near an intersection looking for offenders like they do in the suburbs. 

Nevertheless please, please do not speed down side streets. There are children everywhere and an accident/manslaughter is waiting to happen. I don’t care how quickly you have to be somewhere.  It is not worth it. Drive cautiously down side streets always looking for children playing on sidewalks or between cars. Nothing will ruin your happy go lucky day like murdering a child with your crossover. 

How to Drive Chicago: No Texting in Turn Lane

14. Drive.   Ok. We are all going to check our phones when stopped at a red light. Better than doing it while moving. Listen for the honk behind you to let you know the when light goes greeen again. 

There is, of course, one exception. Waiting in the turn lane for the green, left arrow. There is no texting allowed in this lane EVER. 

EVER! 

The Chicago, left, green arrow is fleeting and like soldiers kicking in a door and entering homes in Kabul, we need to get as many troops through it as possible. Go. Go. Go. Any delay will result in several cars not making it through the light and I just can’t bear the thought of that. 

Do not grab your phone when stopped in the turn lane. 

How to Drive Chicago: Road Rage

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Rendering by Owen

13. Survive.   All of this city driving can be exasperating.  Emotions can run high. I’ll admit I have been prone to verbal altercations in the past. Maybe even some road rage. I’ve changed. I’ve watched enough “First 48” to know that innumerable murders occur during heat of the moment exchanges. Last December in Arkansas, 3 year old Acen King was shot and killed when a man fired into a car that he thought had been following him too closely. Holy shit !

Throw a bird to someone and they could absolutely get out and shoot you in the head. It happens. Holler at somebody for tossing trash out the window and you never know if they’re packing a Glock and having a bad day. Just let it go. It’s not worth it. Meditate or something.

Nevertheless, if you absolutely must express yourself physically and/or verbally to a moronic motorist, pedestrian or elected official, instead of the trite “fuck you” and tired middle finger try blowing them a kiss. Get creative. “Jesus loves you” is way more weird and amusing and usually gets under your foe’s skin just the right amount. You’ve been warned, however. You may be shot in the head.