If you’re like me, urban driving is not simply a matter of getting from point A to point B. It is a competitive sport, a test of manhood, a sublime art-form bringing all faculties to bear on the noble task of transporting yourself and the passengers entrusted to your care to the destination in a manner of excellence: in the most efficient, smooth, smart, speedy, safe, yet thrilling way possible. You are competing not only with the other suckers on the road or your friends headed to the same destination, but you are competing with your former self – continually striving to improve your skills, to shave seconds off your travel time, to fine tune your route. You are not merely a driver; you are a pilot for the Blue Angels, a native on the hunt, Jason Bourne on a mission. You are – by God – a man; and you are good at what you do.
One of the most important advanced urban driving techniques that must be mastered is that of choosing the faster lane at a red light. There can be nothing worse than the driver who, approaching a red light, sticks to his lane like gums to grandpa’s dentures even though he is stacked behind five cars and a bus while the other lane remains wonderfully vacant. LAME! Do NOT be that guy; not only will you arrive at the next red light behind everyone else, but your passengers may begin to doubt that you are in fact a man.
A seasoned urban driver approaches every red light with a strategy for blasting through that cluster of suckers as quickly as possible. In mere seconds he observes dozens of details about the vehicles and drivers ahead and calculates the probability of one lane out-pacing the other when the light turns green. He then checks his space and makes a smooth lane transition to that lane BEFORE slowing down. (Some drivers who aren’t on top of their game will come to a stop behind a stack of other vehicles and suddenly wake up from their day dreaming to realize the other lane is vacant. They then make a jack-knife lane transition to the vacant lane. This is extremely dangerous and should only be undertaken as a last resort in order to save face.) A seasoned driver will Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act (OODA) well before approaching the stop causing no stress to his passengers and increasing his odds of getting ahead both in traffic and with the ladies.
Now that the gravity of this subject has been appropriately communicated we will look at some common red-light scenarios the urban driver must face and delve into esoteric wisdom that will make us all better drivers, and therefore better men.
Beginning, let’s keep it simple with one car in each of two lanes with no turns. Which one will accelerate off the line faster? You might think the type of car would be the deciding factor: a sports car is always faster than a slab, right? FALSE. Don’t misunderstand me, the type of car is exceedingly important, but only in so much as it can reveal the type of driver by whom it is possessed: aggressive or passive. In reality, vehicular performance has far less to do with acceleration off the line than driver personality. You are looking for the aggressive driver – someone like you. The aggressive driver will be your ally until he is in your rear view mirror – at which point he becomes chump-sauce.
Sports Cars – Sports cars can be deceiving. Although they are designed to be driven fast, they are expensive, which means only people with money can afford them. In general, people with money have money because they worked many years for it and are therefore OLD and they also saved money because they were conservative and SAFE. Not signs of an aggressive driver. Be especially careful of 350Zs, Mustangs, and Corvettes as these are favorite buys for those suffering a mid-life crisis. Also be careful of “cutsie” tiny sports cars as these are most likely driven by women. Women, lacking testosterone, are typically not as aggressive (there are exceptions).
Paint Colors – The color of a car is very important as certain colors are preferred by aggressive drivers. Dark colors like Black convey dominance and are meant to intimidate. Red is the color of blood and evokes primal caveman urges to kill meat and mate. Fluorescents are less orthodox and can be favorable if associated with the Fast & Furious ricer crowd but unfavorable if associated with the Hispanic low-rider crowd. Stay away from neutrals, pastels and pinks for obvious reasons. The more expensive the car, the more color matters because the owner had choice of color while the owners of cheap cars probably cared more about price than projecting their personality through their car’s appearance.
Wheels – as you approach the scene, you will begin to discern details about the wheels. Heavy brake dust on the front wheels is a VERY reliable sign of aggressive driving habits. Also check the tires for wear. More wear on the drive wheels is a dead ringer. More wear on the outside edges indicates aggressive turning. The rims can offer clues as well. “Steelies” are lame. Most aluminum rims are a good sign, but watch out if there’s too much bling. A purple slab on 32s with chrome spinners will roll about like its occupants walk: with lots swag but no purpose.
Condition – Usually, if a car is in pristine condition, its driver cares more about appearance and how long it will last than what the car can do. On the other hand, if a car looks like it already has one wheel in the junkyard, its driver probably doesn’t care about getting there quickly – he just cares about getting there. Your best bet is with a decent looking somewhat clean car with the tell-tale evidence of brake dust on the rims and a touch of soot above the exhaust.
Mods – Most modifications are a good sign: scoops, dual exhaust, spoilers, etc. Even if the mods provide no practical means of improving the car’s performance, they at least say that the driver is probably young and thinking about speed.
The Driver – As you glide to a stop in your chosen lane, you will finally begin to catch a glimpse of the driver in the mirrors hopefully providing some confirmation that you made the right decision. As previously discussed, men are typically more aggressive than women. Young people are generally more aggressive than old people. Handicap plates are bad news. It is often a foil if the driver is distracted with a conversation, cell phone, or children; such an individual may totally miss the light turning green handing the initial advantage to the rivals in the other lane. A young male impatiently tapping his fingers on the steering wheel while intently watching for the intersecting street’s traffic signal to turn red is the best case scenario no matter what his car looks like.
Determining the driver’s relative level of aggression is only the first most basic step towards picking the fastest lane. The number of cars in line must be weighed: will three aggressive looking rides quickly outpace one mediocre one? What if there is a Big Mac Trailer Truck? What if there are two trucks side by side? What if it is a two lane left turn? There are a myriad of other variables to be weighed and clues to be observed, but we have not the time to go into them here. With experience these advanced urban driving techniques become second nature. Like an Indian tracking an Elk, the signs will begin to pop out so that in an instant, you will be armed with all the information necessary to defeat your adversary like a man. Happy Hunting!