It’s Fryeburg Fair week again, and no matter how exciting the event is for many, for locals, it’s also a traffic nightmare.
With this in mind, I thought I would go over some basic courteous driving tips to help prevent you and your car from boiling over. There’s nothing new or complicated here, just some common sense and compassion.
I say it frequently, we’re all just trying to get somewhere. I realize that at times we all get frustrated behind the wheel; anger and irrational thoughts surface; and we just want to scream or worse. But take a deep breath and try to make peace with the situation. It’s only for a few days.
The easiest way to avoid the logjam of vehicles is to stay put. If you don’t need to go out, don’t. Maybe wait until traffic disperses a bit before joining the masses.
Of course, this is not always an option, and most of us plan ahead for things like groceries and essentials, but it’s never a bad idea to wait it out if you can.
When heading out into the great gridlock unknown, be sure you’re hydrated and fed before getting behind the wheel.
We all get “hangry” on an empty stomach — that’s a portmanteau of hungry and angry, if you’re not up on your urban slang. There’s actually some fact behind hungry people becoming irrational, and it has to do with blood sugar or glucose levels.
I won’t go into detail here, but it’s real, so eat and drink fluids, don’t wait to get there to gorge on a sausage sub and a gallon of root beer.
These next rules of the road are in no particular order, though most are based on experience and observation, and as one who has no formal training in human behavior, I often wonder what people are thinking.
When approaching a turn, you should move toward the side of your lane of your intended route of travel.
As an example, if you are turning left at an intersection, move toward the left of your lane. This has the desired effect of telegraphing to other drivers your ultimate direction of travel, confirming your turn signal (you do use your turn signal, right?) and might just free up some room for other drivers to turn right without waiting for you.
If the lane is sufficiently wide, a right-turning driver might just sneak up the right side, past other vehicles waiting to turn left. They are not cheating, they’re not disrespecting you, they’re just trying to turn right. If you are turning right, you might not want to wait either. Some drivers with fragile egos will move right to block these other drivers. Maybe they had an unpleasant childhood or they recently had a bad day and want you to share their misery; I don’t know, but try to be patient and hope they get the counseling they need someday.
Similarly, if you are driving down the road in your compact Mall Runner crossover SUV and need to turn — again, move over to the side of the lane of your intended to turn. If you must turn right, move in that direction and take the turn. Swinging back to the left at the last minute in some bizarre tractor-trailer offset maneuver as though you’re towing an imaginary mobile home is wholly unnecessary. The same advice applies to left turns.
As humans in modern times, our programmed attention span is about 3 seconds and waiting in traffic for hours is painful. Remember, the new Maine hands-free law makes it illegal for the driver to play with his or her phone, even when stopped in traffic. However, repress your desire to blast your horn or attempt to use the cushion of air between you and the vehicle ahead of you to push them down the road. Yes, it’s annoying when drivers are inattentive but chances are, you won’t get to your destination any quicker if you’re a couple car lengths behind in stopped traffic. Conversely, pay attention to the traffic ahead and move up when traffic moves.
If your favorite way to pass the time while idle includes a common vice like smoking, please refrain from throwing, dropping or otherwise sharing your particular habit with your fellow motorists. Those who tend to litter — and throwing your cigarette butts out the window is littering — know it’s wrong and try to be discreet.
A better way is just not to do it. A lit cigarette butt is not only a potential fire hazard, it’s also something most people don’t want to smell when they’re stuck slow-rolling as it smolders. There’s little worse to a non-smoker especially on a beautiful day while taking in the foliage and cool autumn air, than to be forced to deal with a lit cigarette because of a lazy smoker. And no, smoking weed is not safe, smart or legal while operating a motor vehicle.
Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year here in the valley. Try not to let a little traffic become upsetting. Grab your favorite pumpkin spice comfort beverage, get comfortable, look around, admire the beauty that is Mother Nature, and consider yourself fortunate to live in a place so many others want to visit.
Eric and Michelle Meltzer own and operate Fryeburg Motors, a licensed, full-service automotive sales and service facility at 299 Main St. in Fryeburg, Maine. More than a business, cars are a passion, and they appreciate anything that drives, rides, floats or flies.