Ronni's Wild Ride | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Ronni's Wild Ride

"Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac."
— George Carlin

If it weren't for other drivers, my driving record would be spotless. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. In more than 30 years of driving, I've never gotten a moving violation. I've been in four accidents, but I don't really count the first one: I'd had my license for a week and turned to wave to a friend. The reality of the situation was driven home (no pun intended) when I ran into a fence. Lesson learned.

The other three accidents were all rear-end collisions: My car's rear abruptly meeting another car's front. Twice, I was stopped—at a stop sign and at a red light. The other incident happened during Friday rush hour. I slammed on the brakes to avoid a car going across four lanes verrrry slooowly, and very illegally. The SUV tailgating me couldn't stop. All three rear-enders happened in Jackson.

Coincidence? I don't think so. I've logged thousands of accident-free miles in some of the most traffic-congested cities in the U.S.: New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami and L.A., to name a few.

Think I'm the blue-haired grandma going 45 on I-220? Uh-uh. I drive a late-model performance car, and I'm usually one of the fastest cars on the road. Dubbed "Ronni's Wild Ride," my favorite driving is slaloming on curvy mountain roads. The first time my friend, Terry, rode with me in the mountains, she started laughing. "I could have been tense and terrified," she told me later, "or I could just relax and enjoy it. Enjoying it seemed like the better option."

Jacksonians, I challenge you to be better drivers. Toward that end, I give you Ronni's Eight Rules for Not Killing Yourself (or anyone else) on the Road:

1. Turn signals are not optional equipment. What are they for? Turn signals alert other drivers of your intentions and give them the opportunity to react accordingly. Use them. Use them when you're turning left or right, when you change lanes on the highway, or when you want to merge onto or exit the highway. Use them when you turn into your driveway if there's a car behind you. Make it a habit, and in a few weeks you'll hardly hear that annoying clicking. The rest of us will thank you.

2. Stop tailgating. I can't possibly go faster than the car in front of me, and if I'm already going 10 miles over the speed limit, your tailgating is just annoying and dangerous. And you in the SUV? There's no freakin' way you can stop as fast as I can. Twelve-car pileups aren't pretty, and they're caused by lines of vehicles tailgating each other when one car slows down. Those lucky enough not to slam into the car in front of them get hit from behind. Back off people, then back off some more.

3. The far left lane on the highway is for fastest traffic and passing. Deal with it. "Slower Traffic Keep Right" signs are no accident. If you constantly have drivers passing you on the right making rude gestures, you're in the wrong lane. Travel in the lane that most closely matches your speed, and as far to the right as possible. There's no law against always driving in the left lane, but passing on the right isn't safe. Where's your biggest blind spot? On the right. Forcing traffic to pass on your right is dangerous for every other driver on the road.

4. If you don't know where you're going, get a map or good directions. Don't drive 25 miles under the speed limit looking at every street sign. It's selfish, rude and dangerous. If you miss your turn, drive on and find a safe place to turn around. Don't slam on the brakes, don't back up in traffic and don't make a u-turn in the middle of the road. None of those things will get you there any faster or safer.

5. In highway traffic, driving slower than everyone else is dangerous. Yes, we should all be good law-abiding citizens and obey the speed limit, but if everyone's going 70 in a 60-mile-per-hour area, your going 50 is a dangerous impediment.

6. Learn how to merge onto and exit from the highway. Most entrance ramps are long enough for you to accelerate up to the speed limit before entering the main highway lanes. By the time you get to the end of the exit, you should be going the speed limit, or as fast as the prevailing traffic. Conversely, exit ramps are long enough to slow down to the speed of the exit. Don't slow down before you reach the exit ramp.

7. When you're in the right-hand highway lane, there will be cars trying to merge. Be the gracious Southerner that you are and let them in. I've seen cars practically run off the road rather than a space opening. Not nice. Not safe. Cut it out.

8. Hang up the phone. You've heard it before: Concentrating on a phone call means you're not concentrating on the road, and if you're holding a phone, you have less control of your vehicle. You're literally driving blind, deaf and dumb (the latter is not referring to your speaking ability) when you're on your cell—hardly an intelligent way to manage thousands of pounds of hurtling steel.

When I was a kid and a driver made a dumb move, I would shout, "Where'd you get your license—Sears?" It's a stupid joke, but I still get the feeling that some people just buy their license from a catalog. Prove me wrong, Jackson. Pay attention. Practice courtesy. Keep your eyes open and your mind on the road. Breathe. Let's toast to our combined good sense on our 101st birthdays.

Previous Comments


Great job, Ronni! I have another one for you: Obey the yield signs and stop trying to beat drivers to the exit ramp. This ain't NASCAR! You can wait. Also, tailgating has increased on I-220 North since the Nissan plant opened. I know folks are trying to get to work, but please don't kill the rest of us in the process. Thank you.


Yeah, great job Ronnie. You must have talked to my wife to come up with the first one. I'm still saving my turn signals for emergencies only. Add this one, Ronni: When you see that round-about in Ridgeland and near the airport, it's not a amusement park, although the one in Ridgeland is so beautiful, just read the signs, yield, and move on.

Ray Carter

Add this one, Ronni: When you see that round-about in Ridgeland and near the airport, it's not a amusement park, although the one in Ridgeland is so beautiful, just read the signs, yield, and move on. I HATE roundabouts! It's every man for himself on those nightmares.


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