Posts Tagged ‘drivers’

A Word From Our Gov’ner:
   Welcome to Alabama. Whether you are a new ten-year-old driver moving up from farm tractors to automobiles, or a seventy-year-old driver with two cataracts and a slow response time, this online Alabama Driving Guide will help you to understand and follow Alabama’s traffic laws.

When driving in Alabama, it is important to always drive in the most unconventional and unpredictable manner possible. Doing this keeps the other drivers alert and reduces the chance of accidents. Remember, Alabama is the home of the Talladega Superspeedway, and just like your favorite NASCAR driver, the goal of every Alabama driver is to get to their end-point the fastest, by whatever means necessary.

Right-of-Way Rules:

   As an Alabama driver, you have the right-of-way in all situations.

If anyone infringes on your right-of-way, honk your horn, curse loudly, and gesture wildly to let them know. You may give up the right-of-way whenever it amuses you, or whenever you can’t remember the traffic laws.

Obtaining eye contact with another driver rescinds your right-of-way. It is also a good idea to yield the right-of-way to any vehicle that is bigger and has more steel than yours, especially if you feel like it will come out ahead in the event of an accident.

   Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. Pedestrians should not be in the cross-walk when the light changes. Pedestrians in crosswalks are considered fair game. A little time in the hospital will remind them that you, as the owner of an Alabama-licensed vehicle, always have the right-of-way. Warning!! if you make eye contact with a pedestrian, you give up your right-of-way.

Safe Traveling Distance:

   Under no circumstances should you leave a distance greater than one-half car length between you and the car in front of you. "Share the Road" means leave plenty of space for cars to pull in behind you. If you leave too much space between you and the car in front of you, it will be filled by some other driver who will most likely be traveling slower than you are, putting you both in an even more dangerous situation.

Automotive Lighting

   The primary purpose of headlights are to remind other drivers that you have the right-of-way. Do not use headlights when driving during daylight hours – it just wastes energy. Unless absolutely necessary, do not use your headlights in towns or cities during hours of darkness. That’s what street lights are for. Also, flashing your high beams at other drivers is most effective when coming from an fast-traveling un-lit car.

In rural situations, headlights can be used to allow you to see the road ahead when it gets very dark. Modern cars and trucks do not come equipped with sufficient lighting for rural driving. The state of Alabama strongly recommends you purchase a light bar with at least four high beams if you will be doing any rural driving. During hours of darkness, you may use parking lights and spotlights on back roads, deer stands, and in residential neighborhoods.

Emergency Flashers

Turn on your emergency flashers whenever you:

  • drive in the rain
  • stop for a yard sale
  • haul hay or count cattle in the field
  • tow a disabled pickup
  • drive slower than the speed limit
  • drive faster than the speed limit
  • want cars on a highway to get out of the left lane
  • are not sure if you want to turn right or left
  • back down an exit ramp
  • back up on the interstate

Signaling Your Intentions:

Turn signals give other drivers clues as to your next move. Alabama drivers never use them.

Traffic Lights:

   Alabama traffic lights have three colors: Tuscaloosa red, Auburn orange (some call it yellow), and green.

A red light means “stopping is permitted”. Right turns on red are permitted. If you are quick about it, a left turn on red is permitted. Straight through on red is always permitted. A U-turn on red is permitted.

A yellow light indicates the light is going to turn red, and that you should speed up, otherwise, a yellow light should be treated the same as a red light. Remember, the faster you drive through a yellow or red light, the smaller your chance of getting hit.

A green light simply lets you know that the red and yellow light are off. Never take a green light at face value. Always look right and left and right and left again before proceeding, unless you have side impact airbags and good insurance.

Traffic Signs:

   Traffic signs are purely for decoration of the roadside, they are like advertising; just ignore them.

The new electronic traffic warning system signs placed on the interstates are to make Alabama look high-tech and to distract your attention from the police car parked in the median.

Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as suggestions and usually not enforced except on vehicles with out-of-state tags.

Traffic Lanes:

   Crossing two or more lanes in a single lane change is called “going with the flow”. Never pass on the left if there is good paved surface you can use to pass on the right. Don’t worry about people entering the highway; remember, you have the right-of-way . Using the shoulder of the road, an on-ramp, or an off-ramp to pass is perfectly acceptable when when freeway traffic drops below 50 m.p.h.

Maneuvering Your Vehicle:

   When making a turn, announce your intention to turn by looking straight ahead. If turning right, swerve to the left side of the road. If turning left, move slightly on to the right shoulder. If any vehicles impede your turn, honk at them.

Braking Safely:

   Modern vehicles are equipped with Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS). ABS requires that you brake as hard and as late as possible, also called “stopping short”. Short-stopping insures your ABS system kicks in. What good is it to have the ABS system if you don’t use it? A side benefit to ABS is the nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates If you are in the 80% who drive clunkers without ABS, short-stopping is a chance to strengthen your leg muscles.

   Learn to swerve abruptly. Alabama’s oyster-shell roads are a great place to learn high-speed slalom driving and drifting techniques thanks to their naturally slick surface, augmented by the infrequent rains and millions of Alabama cars that leak oil. Also, the Alabama Department of Transportation puts potholes in key locations to test your driver reflexes and keep you alert.

Always slow down and rubberneck whenever you see an accident, someone changing a tire, or a vehicle out of gas. It is perfectly alright to come to complete stop in the middle of a street to check an address, especially during rush-hour.


   Speed limits do not apply while passing other cars.

Before passing a car, tailgate to signal to the driver in front of you that they are going too slow.

During the hours of darkness, set your headlights to high beam to convey your intention to pass. Plan your passing move to overtake a slower vehicle at an intersection, highway on-ramp, or off-ramp. Ramps, shoulders, medians and sidewalks allow you extra room for passing.

Announce your intention to pass by looking straight ahead, swerving into the left lane, and pressing the accelerator pedal to the floor. If there is not enough room to pass in the left lane, or you face oncoming traffic, do not abort your passing maneuver as you will confuse other drivers. Lane markings are purely decorative, and you should make the most efficient use of the entire paved surface during passing. A two-lane road with shoulders will easily fit three cars side-by-side; that’s why the shoulders are there. Use the left shoulder to continue your passing maneuver. Remember, when passing a slower vehicle, you have the right-of-way.

Construction Zones:

   Construction Zone signs are set up to tell you about road closures ahead. They are typically set up immediately after you pass the last available exit, but before the traffic begins to back up. A lane closure is just a game used by the Department of Transportation to see how many vehicles can fit in a minimum amount of space.

Driving Practice:

   Female student drivers should practice putting on pantyhose and applying eye makeup at sixty-five miles per hour as well as in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Going Green:

   Throwing litter on the roads adds variety to the landscape, keeps existing litter from getting lonely and gives Adopt-a-highway crews and Alabama state prisoners something to do to build their self-esteem.

Weather Conditions:

   Heavy snows, ice, fog, or rain is no reason to modify any of the previously listed rules. These weather conditions are mother nature’s way of ensuring Alabama’s low jobless rate for body shop workers, junk yard owners and new and used vehicle sales staff. After all, we do have our priorities.


Uncle Buford's 1967 lime-green-and-rust Buick LeSabre

   Uncle Buford and his wife Louise loved to travel back and forth between their ‘Summer Home’ in East Tennessee and their ‘Winter Residence’ in Central Florida. Now, Buford and Louise are not wordly-affluent metropolitan travelers. Their house in Florida was a small, raised bungalow in the middle of a multi-acre citrus farm. Despite it’s Florida location, it had no air-conditioning. Their house in Tennessee was a four-room cabin tucked in a narrow valley near the Virginia border. This house had no running water.

   But they enjoyed their time at both places. About every three months, Uncle Buford and Aunt Louise would pack up their lime green-and-rust 1967 Buick LeSabre with all their clothes, their pots, their pans, their bedding, some fresh produce and some water, and drive the 670 miles to stay at their other house a while. Buford never drove the Interstate. From East Tennessee, he’d drive toward the coast, and pick up U.S. Highway 1 for the rest of the journey.

   Buford continued to drive into his 80’s. I rode with him to Orlando one time. We were riding in the Buick on Florida 528 when we came to the traffic light. Buford drove right through the red light.

“Whoa,” I said. “Good thing nothing was coming.”

Buford chuckled and replied, “Don’t worry, my brother taught me to drive on this road forty years ago”.

When we got to the next red light, Buford drove right through it as well.

I asked, “Buford, You know you just ran two red lights?”

He repeated, “Yes, it was about forty years ago my brother taught me to drive on this road.”

“You know you’re supposed to stop at red lights?”, I asked.

Buford said, “Don’t worry, my brother and I have driven this same stretch of road for over forty years.”

   When we got to the third light, Buford slammed on the brakes and slowed to a crawl as he checked both ways before proceeded through the green light. It didn’t make him very popular with the rest of the drivers on the road.

I asked, “Buford, why would you drive through red lights without slowing but almost stop at green lights!?”

Buford replied, “My brother might be coming the other way!”

Lamenting old age

Another traffic stop

A policeman conducts a routine traffic stop.

   The Police got a call on the radio that there were four elderly women traveling in a silver mini-van, driving slowly and blocking up traffic on the interstate. The motorist who called in to report the van stated she was mostly concerned that someone my strike the van from behind and cause a huge pile-up, as most of the interstate traffic was moving along at 70 to 75 miles per hour.

   The Tennessee Highway Patrol spotted the van traveling northeast at slightly over 40 mph. Several cars and trucks were backing up behind as they attempted to form a single line to pass. The trooper pulled the van over.

“Good afternoon, ladies,” the trooper said as he approached the car. “License and registration, please.”

   While the elderly driver fumbled around looking for the legal paperwork, the trooper scanned the interior. Sure enough, there were four old ladies in the van. Only the driver seemed cognizant. The other three appeared to be catatonic, hands tightly gripping the door handles, eyes wide open looking straight ahead, and they sat motionless.

“Ma’am, I stopped you for doing 40 mph in a 70 mph zone. It’s just as dangerous to travel under the speed limit as it is over the speed limit, and the law says you must maintain at least 45 mph when driving on the Interstate.” said the trooper.

“But all the signs I’ve seen said “40” she replied.

“Those are highway markers, ma’am. You’re driving on Interstate 40.”

“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s aunt,” she replied.

“Are your passengers all right?” the trooper asked. “They seem a bit shaken up.”

“Oh, They’ll be alright in a few minutes, officer,” the driver said. “We just got off Highway 160.”

Another traffic stop

Alcohol abuse counseling