Driving Quirks

I’m currently doing a road trip across Canada (you can check out my adventures here). This is giving me lots of time to not only drive, but think about driving. And about some of the weird things people do when driving.

I visited my friend Vicki in Calgary a few years ago. Every time we got in the car to go somewhere she’d pass around water bottles and gum. When I enquired about this she vaguely explained how being in a car is a good time to hydrate, and gum made her thirsty. So chewing gum while driving made perfect sense to her.

It sort of did to me as well, and it’s something I now do on long trips. Or, I should say, it’s something I did. Until I met Rhonda a few days ago. While she was driving around, showing me her home town of Houston, BC, Rhonda casually mentioned that she never chews gum while driving. She’s afraid that if she’s in an accident she’ll choke on it. And how silly would it be to survive a car crash only to die on your own gum?

Pretty silly.

Thanks a lot, Rhonda! Now every time I pop a piece of gum in my mouth I imagine choking on it in a ditch, and I have to spit it out.

Who do I side with? Hydrating Vicki? Or choking Rhonda?

And then there was my friend Ingrid, who used to always drive with her window open a crack, no matter what the weather. This was in case she drove into a lake. Apparently if your window is open a bit, then your car will slowly fill with water, which will equalize the pressure between the inside of your vehicle and the surrounding lake. Eventually you’ll be able to open your door and swim to safety. If your window is open all the way, then the water will rush in and drown you. And if your window isn’t open at all, you won’t be able to open your door. (Disclaimer: I have not tested any of these scenarios.)

Personally, I always throw a glance into my back seat before I get into my car. Day or night. Just in case there’s an axe murderer hunkered back there. Because the last thing I want is to become a living example of an urban myth.

What about you? What are your weird and wonderful driving quirks? I know you have them. And this is a safe and supportive forum for you to discuss them freely.

Photo Credit

Driving the Volvo © PhotoDu @ Flickr

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  1. avatar60-Something says

    Sarah you do crack me up! I am pretty sure my wad of gum isn’t big enough to choke on … hard candy … I never pop a hard candy in my mouth while driving …. for the same reasons.

    I also really fear putting my car in drive when I am standing beside it instead of behind the wheel!

  2. avatarGiggy says

    Thanks Sarah, now I have to check for axe murderers after I go back into the house three times to make sure I didn’t leave the stove on, and wondering if anyone has cut my brake line during the night. One can never be too cautious.

  3. avatarJocelynn says

    When I used to “commute” between Calgary and Northern AB, I always bought a bag of sunflower seeds to crack between my teeth to keep me awake and a bottle of Sprite. By the time I finished the Sprite, I’d have to stop for gas. It also kept the window a bit open ’cause I had to have someplace to throw the shells.
    And I always look to see if there’s an axe-murderer in my car – road trip or urban mall (maybe especially urban mall). Too many slasher movies or something – same reason I can’t use underground parking lots below the first level.

  4. avatarCarol Namur says

    Hi Sarah,

    From a safety point of view I would side with the ”no chewing on anything while driving”
    You do not need an accident to choke …and doing so at the wheel might end in loss of control of the car … which in turn…enough said I think :-)

    With regards to chewing gum… You open a real Pandora’s box when you do… check this site out

    As to getting out of the car when it is submerged, I would think that a lot depends on the amount of damage sustained by the car and YOU as to weather or not you can open the doors when the pressure equalizes. I would think it best NOT to take the car for a swim. Prevention is key here.

    For moments when you feel like surfing the web, here are a few good ”safe driving tips” or ”good quirks to acquire” sites:
    and for a pretty comprehensive course try : http://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/ods/dlmanual/section5.pdf It has really good information

    Something I do when passing a long vehicle, such as a bus or a truck, is keep an eye on his left front tire. If I see it start angling towards my lane, I know the driver is about to cut in front of me. This trick gives you a few fractions of a second more to react ( as you are anticipating the move rather than be surprised by it) . It has helped me a few times to avoid a nasty collision.

    As well, on back roads and long hauls I top off the gas tank before tackling unknown stretches. Very recently I drove pretty close to 300 km on a gravel road without seeing any signs of human activities or crossing any vehicle coming my way. ( I am pretty sure there would have been no cell phone service either)
    May you be surrounded by safe drivers and always land on safe roads during your journey. Thanks for taking us along!

  5. avatar says

    Oh my god, you crack me up! Seriously! You’re so freaking hilarious and real too, so it’s not that you’re quirky funny, you’re really funny, and the stuff you write about is so real, I can’t help but laugh, then go, “Oh crap that’s a good point!”

    I don’t think i have any driving quirks perse, not like these. Mine are just about getting there. If you ride with me, the rule is, “Get in, buckle up and you better pee first, because I’m not stopping till we get there!” Hmm..but now you have me thinking, I’ll have to ask and think about what my quirks would be.

    I’ll get back to you on that! :) watch out for those ax murders, they can be a real pain.

  6. avatar says

    oh!oh!oh!! waving hand wildly!!!! When I wrote my comment, Sara’s was not up yet. But she has written of the very thing I do, with passing trucks and watching the tire, because I am just certain, they are going to come over and squish little ol’ me, with their bahemuth bigness!!!

  7. avatar"Frank" says

    I have several odd behaviours when it comes to driving.

    On a long road trip on the highway I always try and change lanes without running over the MOT (Ministry of Transportation) Dots that are usually on the stripes between the lanes. If I make it I give myself a point. If any of my four tires hits a dot, I dock myself a point. It’s harder than you think! ;-)

    I also play Gas Golf where I drive by a gas station and see if I can make it the next one at a cheaper price. If the next gas station has lower price, that’s a -1, if it’s higher it’s a +1. This game has caused me to have to walk once or twice for gas though so play that one at your own risk.

  8. avatar says

    Good quirks everyone! Glad to know I’m not alone. And Frank, if I run out of gas thanks to your game and am thereafter killed by an axe murderer, my mom is so coming after you!

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