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Welcome to my driving school - Greg Gelpi

With an empty smile and a nonchalant wave of the hand, it was all OK.

About a ton of steel swerved through a red light, whirling toward me. Slamming on the brakes, I sat back and watched as the vehicle narrowly missed my own.

But, it was OK. The driver acknowledged nearly ending my life at the age of 26 with a casual wave and continued on.

That wave made it all OK, or at least that is what the driver thought. I've noticed that since moving to Georgia. No matter what you do to someone or how potentially grave the mistake, a wave of the hand magically makes it OK.

The worst part of stupidity is the innocent victims that it takes with it.

That being said, welcome to the Greg Gelpi School of Driving. Here are a few tips:

1. That lane thingie in the middle of all of the other lanes? Yeah, that one outlined in yellow. That's meant for turning, not slipping past other motorists.

I'm just as impatient, if not more, as the next motorist. I can empathize with the uncontrollable desire to shoot past a lane of parked cars to make a left turn.

Although I can empathize, I must say take a few deep breaths, count to 10, do whatever it takes, but resist the temptation.

Fading into the turning lane, the no man's land of the driving world, I've nearly been taken out on countless occasions as of late. From ahead and from behind, faced with an instant decision of which vehicle do I want to take my chances with.

As of late, I've decided to barrel into the lane and help the gene pool, rather than risk getting rear-ended by another innocent driver.

2. Turn signals are our friends.

With less energy than it takes to light a cigarette, a driver can flip the turn signal on. Turn signal usage baffles me.

What's the difference between normal driving and getting cut off, the difference between a stroll down the road and a fist fight fueled by road rage is the simple use of the turn signal.

The idea continually baffles me. Like the Egyptian pyramids, Elvis sightings and Area 51, some things I'll never fully understand. Is it not the "in" thing to do? Has J-Lo deemed it a fashion faux pas?

3. Atlanta Motor Speedway is just around the corner.

Returning from a night in East Atlanta, I cleared my eyes with the back of my hands, blinked once and then twice and peered along the stretch of interstate. Vin Diesel was no where be to found and I couldn't spot the Hollywood camera crews anywhere.

I was surrounded by sports bikes enveloping my car, blanketing me like in a high-speed action thriller.

Zipping past one by one demonstrating their love of speed, I considered catching up to point them in the direction of the speedway.

At the same time, though, I'm not suggesting that you should poke along and create hazards for the folks all around you.

4. Passing is OK, but keep going.

I would rather go 20 MPH all the way to Canada if it was a constant speed, rather than the speed limit one moment and 10 the next. As it turns out, though, drivers in the metro area prefer to rocket past me, swerve in front of me and then demonstrate how well their brake lights work.

Glancing side to side the last time this happened, I didn't notice another car with a dozen car lengths of my own. Still, the motorist, for whatever reason, chose to maneuver ahead of me and risk an accident.

With each brake and move in a mesh of traffic, waves of cars react accordingly shifting lanes and shifting gears. Waves upon waves of cars beyond those respond as well.

Life isn't lived in a bubble. Our actions and inactions impact those around us, whether we check the rearview mirror to take note of that or not.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.