Tag Archives: timing

Hill Start Assist, Part Deux

It's half past four and I'm shifting gear.

It’s half past four and I’m shifting gear.

I wrote a post a while ago about hill start assist. I still stand by the fact that it’s nice, but not really all that useful for an automatic transmission. I now have a car with hill start assist, but it’s a stick-shift, and I have mixed feelings about it.

The hill start assist function is engaged if the car’s computer detects that it is on a hill and the brake pedal is pressed. As soon as I lift my foot off the brake, the computer will hold the brakes for up to two seconds or until I press on the accelerator. It is basically an electronic version of the old hold-the-handbrake-on-a-hill crutch.

I appreciate the feature on steep hills, but it is the most frustrating when parallel parking on a hill. Not that it happens often, but it is bothersome when it happens. Parallel parking requires slow speeds, which is only possible by slipping the clutch slowly without gas. With hill start assist, it makes you either wait until it disengages or you tap the gas with your foot off the brake. In both cases you have to be quick with the clutch to make sure it’s not going to roll into the car parked extremely close to you (because you have to have your foot off the brake to disengage the feature). You also have to make sure you don’t stall and cause it to roll into the other car. Applying the brake just engages the hill start assist again so you’re back at square one. ARGH!!!

It would be nice to have a button to enable hill start assist with the feature off by default. If I was to teach someone to drive stick I would figure out how to turn off the feature or get a different car without hill start assist to teach driving stick.

Green lights are a finite resource

I don’t understand why traffic takes off so slowly when the light turns green. The light stays green for a short amount of time, get your butts through the intersection should be your first priority! It ticks me off that people just mozy through as if it’ll stay green forever. What they need is a countdown timer to show how short the light cycle is. Sure we all want to be cautious, but if you’re paying attention, there is a 1 to 2 second overlap of the red lights to ensure the intersection is clear before proceeding. If someone decides to run the red light, well tough luck. They weren’t going to stop anyways. Everyone gogogogogogo!!!

Hill Start Assist

It’s a fkn automatic transmission; hill start assist is utterly useless unless you have one leg. If it was a manual transmission I could see this being useful, but not in an automatic transmission. The reason being a manual transmission requires skill to manipulate three pedals with two feet in tandem. You must press in the clutch with your left foot, take your right foot off the brake, and move your right foot to the gas. In the time you move your foot off the brake to the gas you must also release the clutch to get the car moving. With your foot off the brake and the clutch disengaged, the car will roll back. Thus a hill-assist mechanism is useful for one inexperienced with a manual transmission*.

For an automatic, there are two pedals: a brake and gas. The number of pedals matches the number of legs a normal person has. If this person has half a brain, then this person doesn’t need hill start assist. You come to a complete stop at the top of the hill and apply the brakes with right foot. Then use left foot to hold the brake pedal while stopped and waiting. When it is time to go, apply gas slightly with right foot and gently release left foot off the brake pedal. Simple and effective. Like we need more electronic nannies in our cars for something as trivial as coming off a stop at the top of a hill. Learn to use a car people!

* There are ways to get around hill starts on a manual without hill-assist. One involves using the handbrake (if you’re not driving a car with foot-pedal parking brake): set the handbrake at the top of the hill and when it’s time to go slowly release the handbrake and manipulate the pedals like a normal start. The other method involves a trickier pedal manipulation where you slowly release the clutch to its friction point before releasing the brake and moving to the gas pedal.

Frogger anyone?

The lane is a lot shorter than this image shows due to more traffic in real life.

A lot of establishments have driveways that are very close to intersections. You would think that would be a terrible place to put an entrance/exit to a business. It truly is, but there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Combine this with the many idiots who try to play Frogger trying to get out of a business into the turnaround lane and it’s a recipe for rage.

There are three approaches to this situation:

  • Wait patiently for all oncoming traffic to pass and get directly into the turnaround lane.
  • Get into the right-most through lane, stop in the travel lane, and wait to make your move to the turnaround lane.
  • Fk everyone and just go regardless of safety.

I tend to be the in the first group, but there are too many people who are in the last two groups. Number 2 is what I’d expect from drivers here based on their merging patterns. Do not stop in the travel lane! If I’m coming up in the right lane at 55 MPH and you get in front of me and stop because you want to merge to the farthest left lane, where the fk am I going to go?! Two of my escape plans involve buttfkn you and the last involves crashing into a large sign. If you’re going to wait anyway, then go wait at the stop sign a little longer!

For group three, I expect that and can somehow manage that a lot better. Why? Because they make their move swiftly! Get the stupidity over with quickly. The other day some idiot in a Camry decided that she’d try and dodge traffic to get into the turnaround. She had to cross four lanes in three car lengths to do this. It’s a miracle she didn’t get hit with the heavy highway traffic. Probably hails from California and thinks this is nothing.

Synced traffic lights

Traffic is stopped

Traffic is stopped on opposite sides of the traffic light.

On my commute to work there are two traffic lights every mile for the side roads. The lights were not synchronized and a majority of the lights were on a timer and program loop. Traffic was pretty bad and I wished that the city would synchronize the lights. Construction for new lights started at the end of August last year and finally finished last week (so it took the city seven months to replace five lights). I was quite puzzled why they took so long to replace the lights. They could have gotten all of the equipment and replaced them all at once in the middle of the night instead of closing the intersection for an hour a week over the seven months, but I digress.

Well, when they finally made the switch to the new lights I thought “Finally! Maybe traffic won’t be so bad now!” Oh boy, was I wrong. The new lights are synchronized, but there were two lights in front of a grocery store that was not replaced. One of those lights is for a major intersection with another highway. Think of it like a pipe with valves every few feet. All the valves except for one open and close at the same time. That one valve that isn’t synced ends up being the one controlling most of the water and causes the most congestion.

So, basically all the traffic is controlled by this pair of traffic lights that operate independently of the other lights. Traffic backs up for a mile in both directions, which extended my commute by ten more minutes. You’d think they’d figure that replacing the light where two highways intersect would be the important one to be replaced! Well, it turns out they reverted the traffic light programming back to what it originally was after a week of terrible traffic. My commute has become a lot less of a rage-fest! Huzzah!

Merge faster!

Caprice and Impala taxi

A pair of taxis for illustration purposes

On my way home I was in the left lane of the highway cruising about 60 MPH. About a few car lengths ahead of me was a taxi. He gave no signs that he was going to move over, but I saw that he slowly crossed the painted dashed line. I wondered if he just misjudged the curve and would return to the proper lane. No, he just gradually drifted towards the right lane like a ship drifting to sea. So now he’s driving in two lane at once. It was like he couldn’t decide which lane he wanted to be in so he decided to drive down the middle. He drove straight for maybe another 1/2 mile before starting to drift towards the right again. He finally got into the right lane. The whole maneuver probably took 30 seconds, but it felt like days. This also was not the first time I’ve seen it happen, it’s just the most extreme I’ve seen. Yes, people will block two lanes at once with indecisiveness like the taxi I saw. What is their deal? Make your move quickly people!

Stop texting, girl!

Toyota Corolla

Evil drives a 10-year-old Corolla

On my way back from lunch I encountered the dreaded texting driver. I was in the center left turn lane waiting to make a left turn off the highway into the parking lot at work. I see traffic clearing down the road so here is my chance to make the left. All the cars pass except for a ten-year-old Toyota Corolla, which is slowing down. I think to myself, “Ok, maybe this person is going to turn.” No, she just slows down while still traveling straight in the right lane. It was getting ridiculous as she was going slower than a drunken turtle. Did I mention this was a 60 MPH highway? Not only was her speed totally unsafe, but I was getting frustrated waiting as I didn’t want the traffic down the road to close the gap. I hit my horn, but it was ineffective as she never sped up. As the Corolla passed I could see this girl with her cell phone on the steering wheel texting away, not even looking at the road. Are you fkn kidding me? I should have just laid on my horn, turned on my brights, and slowly made my turn to freak her out. Stupid birch.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Why are you making a left?!

Why are you making a left?!

So whenever I go to FedEx I always encounter this. I am in the left lane heading north at 40 MPH when I come to this idiotic traffic light that meters traffic into a pair of churches across the street from each other. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, there is always someone trying to make a left into either church. WHY?! Just because you can make a left doesn’t mean you should! Plan your route better so you can make a right turn! The traffic light doesn’t help either as the turns get activated and then turns into a yield-on-green where traffic just stops in the left lane while everyone and their moms are rushing by in the right lane.

The engineers could have timed this traffic light similar to another one down the same street where it allows one side of traffic to make lefts and straights while the opposite side has a red and then swaps for the opposite lane after a certain amount of time. This keeps traffic flowing safely. Obviously, this would be too good of a solution and we can’t have that in the government!

So cars build up in the left lane and the last person into the queue can escape by merging right when the right lane traffic clears. That is the winning move. Come up, see traffic stopped, and just jerk the wheel right, stomp on the gas, and hope there’s no cars in your way. Gotta do this swiftly and gracefully like a swan in heat. If you are unfortunate to get stuck in the left lane while everyone passes on the right, then let the flying spaghetti monster have mercy on your soul.

Why do merge lanes confuse people?

Merge lane

Idiots can't merge

So we’ve all encountered merge lanes like the one in the image. This particular road, however, has metal poles to force you to merge. There are clearly marked signs saying the right lane ends and to merge left. I’m normally traveling in the middle through lane and I see some jerk in the right lane not merging even though they have plenty of space. They decide to ride out the right lane as if they were challenging the poles to move and give up when they see that the poles are NOT MOVING! No tap of the brakes or anything, just a swift move to the left (without signaling) without batting an eye. I always leave a gap while I’m in the middle lane just because of idiots like this. I’ve seen people get forced out of the middle lane when the right-lane idiots move over. They had plenty of time and space to make their move. I understand not merging because you’re scared to do so, but why ride out the lane and challenge another solid object? It’s not like there wasn’t enough room or time to do so. I guess texting your BFF Jill and chugging a venti carmel macchiato soy latte and calming the snot twins in the backseat is much more important than the menial task of driving. One of these days when I have a pre-owned Crown Vic Police Interceptor you will feel my wrath people!