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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


Washington Times-Herald
December 24, 1922

Many Motorists Disregard Strain on Mechanism By Sudden Spurts of Speed

Good automobile drivers are not born; they must elarn.  Unfortunately about all they can learn from someone else is more or less mechanical work of steering, gear shifting, engaging and disengaging the clutch, says a writer in "Chevrolet Review."  Skill in these operations is necessary, of course, especially when considered from the standpoint of economy and reliability in car performance.

However, every day teaches us more emphatically that good driving consists of more than expert mechanical operation.  There are more cars on the road daily.  There are more "other drivers" who must be considered.

These "other drivers" are not only human and deserving of human consideration, but they are also piloting cars which can become extremely unfriendly and unruly when out of control.  Self-defense is a strong argument for good manners on the road.


For example, there is the driver who proceeds ahead in jerky fashion, speeding for a few rods and then slowing down suddenly behind another vehicle when hid good judgment would have told him an even speed would have saved his motor from the strain of fast acceleration, his running gear and brake linings from the unnecessary burden of quick braking, and saved his passengers from the anxiety of the whole foolish escapade.  No time was gained, no possible benefit derived.  And what of the car behind?  Probably the thoughts of the driver would be unprintable.

Some of the best drivers argue that they avoid traffic difficulties and mishaps by driving as though every other driver was going to do the worst possible feat.  They allow a safety margin for unexpected turns, stops or changes of speed, so that no matter what unusual move is made by other cars on the road, trouble is not apt to result.

There are other drivers who guide their cars safely and easily through traffic with the least possible wear and tear on their cars and passengers.  They appear to take unnecessary risks sometimes because of their faith in their ability to read the other driver's mind.  And they point to their freedom from mishap in proof of their theory.

Both of these mental attitudes toward driving are obviously contingent upon the driver's familiarity with his own car to the extent that he is not conscious of effort in maneuvering as he deems it wise.  Months of driving under friendly circumstances have given him confidence as well as practice.

The good driver not only keeps his car under control at all times, keeps to the right of the road obeys traffic laws, but he also has the habit of operating his car so that other drivers are not harassed by his movements.


For instance, if he is driving north toward intersection and wants to turn to the right, he draws over close to the right side of the road before he reaches the corner, signalling to cars behind him that he intends to turn.  Cars at his rear are then able to proceed northward without stopping to wait for him to clear the corner.

Similarly, a driver proceeding northward and intending to turn to the left, will draw over to the left side of the northbound traffic before reaching the corner, signalling the cars behind so they can pass without delay while the machine is making the turn.

It won't require many days of observation to show you the little courtesies of the road that make driving not only safer for yourself and others, but also the real pleasure that lies in handling your car well.

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