We're a hunted few. Our passion for cars makes people believe that we drive dangerously, or that we are risk-takers while driving. Our passion doesn't have to bother other people. Even if we choose to carve corners, that doesn't mean that we're lawless. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Rule #1: The Golden Rule of the Yellow Line
Seriously, this one is obvious. If you can't drive your car in only one lane, you should probably cut up your driver's license. Hitting an oncoming car at full speed is the single most deadly form of crash in most developed countries. The challenge of a brisk, spirited drive through the mountains isn't about a stopwatch. It's about an expertise level that everyone can do, but few can master. In this particular case, I'm talking about the idea of being the best driver; the one who enjoys driving, but still never crosses the yellow line, in order to carry more speed. That's unnecessary and risky. Even if you have to slow down more to stay on your side of the yellow line, that just gives you a chance to downshift, put the throttle down, get back up to speed, and shift back up. That's one of the best feelings, isn't it?
Rule #2: Seeing is Believing
Visibility is the difference between an ugly crash and a pleasant drive. If you're driving at night, don't overdrive the headlights, and don't go around a corner at full speed, if the corner is too sharp for the headlights to illuminate the road. Driving during the day? Maybe you should think twice about going full-attack through that tight, blind corner around the bridge, or maybe slow down a little extra for that blind crest. Crashes suck - poor visibility can be attributed to more crashes than you might expect.
Rule #3: Taking Some Time to Enjoy It All
I know what you're going to say when you read this: "yeah, but, they're sooooo low!" Nevertheless, I think speed limits do have their purpose. You can't go around expecting that things will always go perfectly because you're a perfect driver and would never make a mistake. The same day you assume that, is the same day you go around the corner you know is a fourth gear corner, and find a train crossing the road, and you can't slow down in time. Or, maybe it's a pedestrian, or a cyclist. Speed limits aren't there for the drivers. They're there for everything that has to cross the road. Speed limits are for pedestrians, cyclists, squirrels, dogs, children... Whatever.
Instead of ripping around at well above the speed limit (which is not flexible, contrary to belief, but the police are known to have varying degrees of leniency), why not slow down and enjoy the scenery while carving the roads? You can still carve roads at the speed limit. But, hey, maybe you take your time, savour the drive, and pull over to see the best scenery in the area.
Rule #4: Common Courtesy
We get it. You don't have to completely stop the car at a stop sign to avoid a crash. But, that 0 km/h "complete, legal stop" isn't for you to avoid a crash. It's a statement of intent to follow a principle of safe driving. It's not entirely about the act itself - giving yourself more time to think. You think you're too good to completely obey a metal sign? Well, that's great, glad that you've got an overconfident ego. But, if you don't stop for the stop sign, why should the other people? Why should the stop sign be erected? Why bother? Why not just drive as if you live in an almost lawless state, like Somalia, or Chechnya? Well, look up the statistics of countries where people don't follow law and order, on things like life expectancy, and reconsider.
Yeah, that stop sign is just a stop sign. It's just a metal post. But, it represents something more. It represents a willingness to demonstrate to others that the stop sign really does apply to you, and everyone else that stops at that stop sign. Especially as an auto enthusiast with a rare car with an expensive paint job, you should be the one who should be entrusted with stopping to show that you love your car, and you love that you live in a country where people stop at stop signs to honour the effort you put into building it. It only takes one person not obeying that sign to destroy your years of laborious love and craftsmanship. Your car is worth that full legal stop.
Rule #5: Road Familiarity
You know that road you've never seen before? Yeah. Don't drive at or above the speed limit on it. That giant sinkhole you didn't know about will destroy your wheels. The sharp corner you didn't know about? Goodbye, car. The flooding you didn't realize was happening? Your upholstery is ruined, your engine hydrolocked, and your wiring fried.
"Sorry," says the road's engineer. They do their best, but, sometimes the unthinkable happens, because someone went at a speed the road wasn't designed for. Remember how Rule #3 talked about how speed limits weren't designed for you, but rather for the pedestrians? Speed limits are also there for road engineers to cover their liability. Road engineers can't flatten every crest, nor smooth every bump. The budget is not high enough. So, roads with particularly steep crests and big bumps might be slower, even though they're otherwise simple at the speed limit. If you don't know where the bumps are, you won't know how to avoid them. That's a bad thing for your $4000 wheels and $2000 coilovers... And don't even get me started on snowy, icy roads.
Drew Geier is a Canadian petrolhead whose main mission is to make motoring accessible, enjoyable, and affordable well into the future, by improving the art, hobby and lifestyle of motoring. He builds cars, and he writes about other builds. He's built a Subaru WRX and is building a Honda Civic EK.