Letter: Don’t star in a (traffic) horror movie

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Every horror movie has thrills and surprises that make you jump in your seat. It’s why we go to these movies: for a good scare. The last place you want a good scare is when you’re driving. Yet many drivers seem to enjoy surprising others around them.

There’s the car that suddenly changes lanes on Merrimon Avenue, the one that dashes across two lanes of traffic for an exit ramp on I-40 and the one that suddenly slows to a near stop on an otherwise deserted street, like on Patton Avenue in West Asheville. Even if you’re a defensive driver, surprises can sometimes stop you in your tracks — literally.

There’s actually a simple way to avoid surprises: Use your turn signal. And use it before you apply the brakes or start to swerve. Your turn signal isn’t there to show others that you’re turning. It’s there to alert others that you’re about to turn. Using your blinkers helps you avoid surprising other drivers, no matter how clear you think you’re being.

Get in the habit of using your turn signal for every turn until you just do it naturally. Signal to others that you’re about to turn, whether it’s to change lanes or enter a parking lot. Leave the surprising shocks and thrills to the horror movies.

— Mark H. Bloom

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8 thoughts on “Letter: Don’t star in a (traffic) horror movie

  1. Jay Reese

    Good point. Here is some more driving tips from a cyclist.
    1. If you’re sitting at an intersection attempting to turn left and the light turns red you don’t get a free pass to run the light and interfere with cross traffic that has the green light.
    2. The yellow light is not meant to signal you to speed up and run the red light and just because you are tailgating someone who runs the light doesn’t mean you should also.
    3. If the road is wide and relatively straight like Long Shoals or Hendersonville Rd that isn’t an invitation to go 55mph.
    4. When you see a pedestrian getting ready to step into the crosswalk you are supposed to stop not veer left and speed by.
    5. Tailgating doesn’t get you to your destination any quicker.
    6. Using Cut-throughs like Overlook Rd to avoid congestion is annoying and dangerous for the local residents. Would you want hordes of noisy cars speeding by your house?
    7. Passing a cyclist on the left then immediately turning right is stupid and dangerous. Would you do that to a car?

    Just slow down and be considerate of all road user.

    • luther blissett

      Using a turn signal also signals to yourself what you’re going to do. Let’s add to the tips:

      8. Learn some basic lane discipline.
      9. If you overtake on the right at highway speed, you’re in the biggest blind spot of the car you’re passing, have the least awareness of your positioning, and make life harder for drivers behind you.
      10. If you miss your exit, there’ll be another one in a minute.
      11. Get off your phone.

      • Huhsure

        12. Stopped at a red light? Tired of waiting? That doesn’t mean you can make a left turn.

        13. On Bowen bridge, leave 4-5 car lengths between you and the car in front. If a car pulls in between you, open up the space again. It helps keep traffic flowing smoothly, and turns a mess of a junction into something manageable.

        14. Maybe sit in your driveway and practice using the turn signal. It’s pretty easy, once you get the hang of it. I’ll even stop by and make vroom vroom noises for you as you practice, and give you occasional snackies if you do well.

  2. Scotty_Mack

    Having been raised in Asheville, I’m pretty sure using turn signals in NC is against the law. But that’s okay; driving like a selfish prick is good revenge on all the recent posers that moved to town, skyrocketed real estate prices, and clogged up the roads. Screw ’em. Glad you’re sad.

  3. hauntedheadnc

    It’s nice how some people here have tried to provide some traffic pointers, but I think we all know by now that there are the rules and then there are the Asheville rules:

    1. Right of way belongs to whoever can take it by force.

    2. It is crucial to know how to correctly execute a “Hendersonville turn,” and a proper Hendersonville turn is made by slamming to a complete halt and then… ever… so… sloooooooooooowly… creeping into the driveway of your destination. All Hendersonville turns are made this way and can be done any time, but remember to save your very best Hendersonville turns for rush hour traffic on the busiest roads.

    3. Asheville is an exuberant town, and sometimes you’re just going to be overtaken by the urge to stop the car on the Bowen Bridge and get out and dance. Don’t fight it.

    4. Creativity is very highly valued in Asheville, and people will applaud your decision to mix it up a bit and drive the wrong way on the Interstate. Likewise, people will really appreciate you tooling down one of westbound lanes of West Patton Avenue in your motorized wheelchair. That’s thinking outside of the box!

    5. The only way to walk down the middle of the street is to do so at night while dressed in black. Nothing else will do.

    6. Red lights, stop signs, and turn lane arrows are nice thoughts and friendly suggestions but nothing more. You’re a busy person and you need to go where you need to go, now! The proper way to deal with these impediments is to blast through stop signs and red lights laughing a carefree laugh, and heaven forbid you interrupt your extremely important phone call! Likewise, deal with turn lane arrows the same way some people deal with happy hour: It’s five o’clock somewhere and likewise, if you’re turning left from the right turn lane just tell yourself it’s a right turn somewhere. And vice versa, of course, for those perennial favorites, the right turns from the left turn lane.

    7. Turn signals are for the tourists, and you certainly wouldn’t want anyone to think you’re a tourist, now do you? Of course not, so simply resolve yourself to the fact that there is no force on earth or in heaven that will ever make an Asheville drive use his or her turn signal. However, if you absolutely must use your turn signal, at least go full tourist and use it to indicate that you will be following the upcoming curve in the road rather than blazing a new trail straight through the woods.

    8. Remember that street names are very closely-guarded state secrets that must never be allowed to fall into the hands of the commies. Therefore, accept that many intersections will not be labeled and that you can travel for miles on end on some roads without every being informed of what road you are on or that it has changed names no fewer than three times as you drove along.

    9. Master the kiss-and-run interchange, in which the lane that dumps traffic onto I-240 is also the lane that takes it off, and only swoops in for the briefest of pecks on the cheek of I-240 itself before swooping off again. Yes, the crisscrossing traffic is dangerous, but the danger will make you feel alive.

    10. Leaf season is coming up, and you’ll need to master the art of the sudden dead stop in the road should you pass an especially striking maple tree. You must master this art because I assure you that the approximately seven million tourists who will be crammed into town on any given October day already have.

    11. Resign yourself to the rolling roadblock. Let’s say you’re driving down Hendersonville Road and traffic, as it often is, is creeping along at the speed of grass growth. This is because several cars ahead, the left lane is occupied by a car with Florida plates and the right lane is occupied by a car with Minnesota plates. Florida and Minnesota are traveling at a sedate 25 mph, enjoying the many colorful advertisements, and the way the tangle of wires and signs suspended overhead plays so dramatically against the white and blue of the clouds and sky. Occasionally Minnesota will goose it up to 30 mph, but they quickly remember their place in the world and drop back down. It would be very rude of you to run these people off the road. Remember that they are spending money and Asheville has no other industry other than beer brewing. Be nice to them, enjoy the ride, and when you get home forty five minutes late, just think of the sheer artistry in advertising and commercial architecture that you enjoyed when you could have been home stuck playing with your cat or making supper, or some silly, boring thing like that.

    12. Those potholes, hillocks, bumps, lumps, dips, and patches of shattered pavement that mark most every road in Asheville are not there to inconvenience you, and they are certainly not there because the state is routinely shocked to discover that North Carolina extends any farther west than Hickory and tends to forget about us out here for years at a time. No, those obstacles are there to add adventure to your drive and they are part of what makes driving in Asheville both a joy and a delight.

    13. Those tourists who suddenly dart out from between parked cars downtown and scamper, giggling, across the street without looking right or left aren’t doing so because they’re not paying attention or taking their lives in their hands or anything like that. No, they like to jump out in front of you because they’re filled with the exuberance that is a visit to our enervating city. Rather than be angered, just think of the experience as dozens of little surprise parties, just for you.

    Consider these real guidelines of Asheville driving and take them to heart. It’s all about accepting what is and not what you wish. You’ll be much happier simply accepting that there is a very good reason that one travel guide once compared traffic here to the anarchy in the streets that is Naples, Italy. We worked hard to earn our title as a world capital of terrible driving and here you silly heads are trying to take that away, with your “turn signals” and the like. Pshaw!

    • luther blissett


      14. By rule, a mile-long stretch of I-26W between the airport and Long Shoals must be backed up for no visible or explicable reason. If you are driving that stretch and it’s not backed up, you’re obliged to do something to back it up.

    • Phillip Williams

      Mr. Head, we sometimes disagree, but not on this….my hat is off to you – this pretty well sums it up across multiple dimensions!

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