Published On: Fri, May 2nd, 2014

Wright to the Point

by Jonathan Wright

I can’t get over some of the crazy, unsafe driving habits some people practice. You’ve observed them, too, and I’m sure the one I’m going to mention here will ring a bell with you.

Maybe it’s just that people who have been driving for a long time get a feeling of overconfidence, figuring they can sit back and relax when they get behind the wheel, that all is well with the world and there’s nothing to be wary of. Regardless, it makes for some interesting sights on the roads around town.

One that really gets to me is this without fail is this: those who drive with one arm hanging out the window.

Such a seemingly carefree habit, of course, becomes much more noticeable with the return of warm weather, when many people resume driving with their windows open. Last weekend was a wonderfully warm one, and the proliferation of arms hanging out the windows here in the Greenbrier Valley was hard to ignore.

Don’t tell anyone, but it grates on my sensitive nerves every time I see it. This very obvious evidence that someone is driving with only one hand reminds me that the chances of an accident involving this driver are considerably greater.

Face it—with only one hand on the wheel, control is only half of what is it when both hands are on the wheel. If a split-second turn of the steering wheel is required due to, say, a deer jumping across the road out of nowhere, the one hand tends to jerk the wheel much more precariously than two hands gripping it firmly.

Regardless of what the perpetrator would probably tell you if you questioned him or her about it, I’m convinced that the left arm and hand are proudly hung out the window for one reason and one reason only: to appear cool.

Oh, really?

Yes, really.

Hanging one’s arm outside the door instantly and effectively produces an air of smooth, self-reliant, on-top-of-it all confidence. Those who do so appear to have not a care in the world—or at least not at the moment.

It’s an easy way to exude a relaxed attitude that says to neighboring drivers, “Hey—I’ve got it all together.”

This habit has drawn my attention so frequently that I have to admit that I’ve even tried it a couple of times myself, out of curiosity more than anything else. I simply wanted to know what’s so great about it.

I was not impressed.

The procedure was awkward and discomforting enough that I have not desired to make it an integral—or even non-integral—part of my driving habits.

Besides—there are enough arms hanging out car windows around here that we certainly don’t need one more.

Two-handed driving is the life for me, thank you.