In this whole defensive driving thing – or assertive driving, as it should be – I realize that the point is to assume the other person is going to be a moron, so you take enough precautions to not be a victim of their idiocy.
But the key adjective there is “enough.”
I have mastered the one point turn. I park on the street in front of my house, and when I need to go the other way, I have serious skills (and a wide driveway apron) to actually back up into the driveway, then just drive off as if I were pulling out of the driveway in the first place.
For some reason this freaks people out.
Let’s say you’re driving down my street. You see my car turning to the right in reverse into the driveway. From three or more houses away, you see that my car is now in the driveway, at a complete standstill. You get to about two houses away and see my face and it stands to reason that I also see yours.
A. Continue driving at the same pace for the remainder of the street (barring any obstacles)?
B. Slow to a crawl once you get one house away?
If you answered B, then you are one of many people that makes eye contact with me and then assumes that I now want to cause a minor traffic accident.
Seriously. I’m here. I see you. You see me. My car is not moving. It hasn’t moved from the time you were three houses away, what makes you think that I’m just waiting for you to be in front of my driveway for me to pull out?
The same goes for the “wide berth” people. Specifically if there is a clearly defined bike path already on the side of the road.
You have eyes (at least, I’m assuming this, since you’re driving), so I know that you can clearly see the car in front of you. See how on either side there are about two feet of space?
That means that if you stay right down the center of the lane, the bicyclist or runner next to you already has two feet between his or herself and you. Add to that any distance gained by the fact that they are also in the center of their lane, and are usually actually to the far right. So you can stay in your lane and safely pass them, without any fear of maiming them.
If you are still nervous about it, you can move to the left but still remain in your lane, which now gives them at least four feet of space. You do not need to leave your lane and drive halfway into oncoming traffic, or hitch your side mirror to the person driving on your left.
Paranoid drivers. I can’t handle it.