Well, I just finished a 1,600-mile weekend. While I made it home in one piece, there were a few close calls. If you’re planning a trip over the holidays, you’re going to face the same challenges. Here’s what you need to know to overcome car driver fails.
One: Tailgating In The Rain
Riding down CA-46 in a torrential downpour, I had to slow down below the speed limit in order to ride safely. That’s a four-lane, divided highway, but automotive drivers didn’t necessarily feel the same about safety. Braking distances increase drastically in inclement weather and following distances should increase proportionately.
What You Can Do About It: Slow down even further. Don’t do anything unsafe by slowing rapidly, unpredictably or to an unnecessary degree, but shedding more speed will decrease braking distances, building back in the safety being sacrificed by tailgating.
Two: Changing Lanes Without Looking
You’re riding along through traffic, minding your own business, when a car driver suddenly decides they want to be in your lane and doesn’t bother looking first.
What You Can Do About It: First, leave a “safety” bubble around you as you interact with traffic, always giving yourself at least one, if not two escape routes. Second, try and remain conscious of the blind spots of cars you’re riding around and try to spend as little time in them as possible. Also avoid riding directly next to cars. When it comes time to pass one, just pass it, don’t hang around.
Three: Rolling Road Blocks
So there’s a truck going 10 mph under in the slow lane and a car doing the exact same speed next to it in the passing lane, it can back up traffic for miles.
What You Can Do About It: Plan ahead. When you have the opportunity, look miles down the road and try and overtake packs of slow-moving traffic before two groups meet one another.
Four: Errant Highbeams
Or, mis-adjusted low beams blinding you from behind at night.
What You Can Do About It: Tweak your mirrors outwards to show what’s in the lanes next to you, not directly behind. Just be aware of your blind spot changing shape and size as you do so. Bonus points if you can direct the light straight back in the driver’s eyes.
Five: Passing, Then Slowing
There you are, riding along at a precisely constant speed, while the drivers around you speed up and slow down constantly, passing you, only to slow right in front.
What You Can Do About It: Over the weekend, I was able to take a few minutes off from my chosen cruising speed while the offending drivers were in a fast period, allowing some gap to generate from them. This cleared them from my road space pretty reliably. I’d use this as time to stand up or otherwise achieve a little extra comfort.