There is a dangerous breed of animal on American highways today – the bad driver. Caution is strongly advised. A bad driver can easily be recognized by exhibiting traits of stupidity, rudeness, and unpredictability. There are many species of the bad driver. Most should be considered dangerous and avoided whenever possible, while others have annoying habits and are seemingly oblivious to other drivers around them. Take heed! They also can be hazardous to one’s physical and mental health.
Here is a top 10 list of a few of the stupid driver species that personally drive me crazy! No particular order as all can be equally aggravating.
1. The Rubbernecker – Most drivers are familiar with the infamous rubbernecker. Fascinated by flashing lights, construction equipment, disabled vehicles, highway workers, the list goes on, rubberneckers immediately slow down to gawk. Accidents are the absolute crème de la crème. It does not matter if the accident has occurred across a median strip on the other side of the highway, it is absolutely crucial to slow down and gape at the carnage.
I appreciate you slowing me down so I can gaze in awe too, but the driver behind me isn’t always as appreciative or is busy finagling with his radio or cell or whatever to realize your intentions in giving us all a chance to stop and look and frankly, being rear-ended is not one of my favorite things because whiplash does not feel good.
2. The Creeper/Crawler – Exhibiting similar traits, creepers can be found frequenting red traffic signals, while crawlers are generally found in green light situations.
When confronted with stopped traffic, creepers will slow to several car lengths behind the stopped vehicle in front and slowly creep forward. This is obviously a ploy to avoid coming to a complete stop, but the reason is unclear. If the light does turn green, the creeper will still have to wait for the stopped traffic to react and inevitably will have to come to a complete stop anyway.
Just stop and hold already. I drive a stick shift. Stopping at a traffic signal gives me the opportunity to rest my foot, not keep it engaged in a slow creeping pattern.
When approaching a green traffic light visible in the distance, crawlers will inevitably hit the brakes and slow down to a crawl. Green means GO. It is not the same as yellow which does means SLOW DOWN. Most traffic signals are equipped with sensors to gauge traffic traveling at the speed limit. There is absolutely no reason to slow to 10 MPH a mile back in anticipation that the light will turn red in a sudden attempt to fool you. But be careful, crawlers also have tendencies to approach the intersection and when the light does turn yellow (after having given it plenty of time to do so), will suddenly have a burst of speed and jackrabbit through.
Congratulations! You have successfully anticipated the light turning red… for me.
3. The One-Armed Wonder – One-armed wonders obviously lack a left appendage with which to operate what is commonly referred to as a turn signal which is usually located on the left side of the steering column, leaving others to wonder if a sudden move into the same lane is imminent or whether to anticipate sudden braking as the driver slows to make an unannounced turn. Sometimes the one-armed wonder will figure out how to properly manipulate the turn signal while actually executing the turn. Usually a moot point since most will have figured out the intention by then.
One of my favorites is the one-flash signal. Blink, you miss it. One can only wonder if the driver, in the process of switching lanes, may have accidentally hit the turn signal because it impeded operation of the steering wheel.
4. The MOR (or Middle-Of-the-Roader) – Indigenous to 3 or more lanes highways, MORs migrate to a middle lane and maintain a holding pattern regardless of speed. If traveling slower than the traffic flow, MORs force others to pass to the left and to the right creating a potentially hazardous scenario when drivers on left and right simultaneously attempt to regain their position in the middle lane. Adding to the danger, one or both drivers may be dealing with a one-armed wonder (see #3), so the intentions of one or both of the drivers will be unknown to the other.
I notice MORs may also travel in packs creating the dreaded rolling roadblock. MORs can be stubborn, refusing to speed up or slow down yielding to the other and allowing a possible escape route for the growing mass of trapped traffic behind them to break free.
5. The Incognito – When confronted with poor visibility conditions such as a downpour or fog, incognitos prefer not to be seen. To them, turning on their headlights to alert others to their presence is unacceptable behavior.
You can run, but you can’t hide. Eventually, someone may run up on you and not be able to stop in time because something like wet pavement may be impeding them from accomplishing said maneuver in a timely manner and distance. Oops!
6. The Policophobe – When a police car is spied, either moving or pulled off to the side, policophobes jam on the brakes and immediately slow to 15 MPH below the posted speed limit. Policophobes are further mesmerized by flashing blue lights exhibiting similar traits to a deer caught in headlights and show the same tendencies as rubberneckers (see #1).
Fine, I recognize the caution, but no reason to go into panic mode. Maintain the speed limit. Trust me, you won’t get a ticket for obeying the law. But if I am stuck behind you, I do not want to be the one to get a ticket for going too slow!
7. The Ramp Slug – Exit ramps off interstates are also referred to as deceleration lanes and on ramps as acceleration lanes, but ramp slugs are discombobulated by this concept. Rather than moving onto the exit ramp and out of traffic moving at great speeds and then slowing down in the area specifically designed for this, ramp slugs will begin the deceleration process up to 2 miles before approach bringing a whole lane of traffic to below the speed limit and creating a mini traffic jam. Similarly, ramp slugs will drive down the on ramp at a leisurely pace, perhaps hitting the brakes once or twice to further slow down the process, and enter the interstate at a speed well below existing traffic. It is generally not a good idea to enter in front of an 18-wheeler doing 70 MPH when doing 45 MPH.
Don’t be afraid! When you have an on ramp a half mile long, it is OK to accelerate to match the existing interstate speeds and thereby, effecting a seamless merge. If you want to Sunday drive down the ramp and I am behind you, that 18-wheeler isn’t going to hit you, it is going to hit the vehicle behind you… me. Furthermore, if I am already on the interstate, I have the right of way. You are responsible for yielding, especially if you feel the need to enter at a speed 20 MPH slower than mine.
8. The Flasher – Not to be confused with emergency flashers, flashers constantly hit the brakes barraging following drivers with a distracting and annoying red light show. This can also be very confusing to fellow drivers when no discernible reason can be seen for slowing or stopping. Flashers show marked tendencies for reacting to other red lights. The distance is irrelevant. If the flash of a brake light is observed 1 mile ahead, flashers immediately see the need to mimic the same behavior.
Some extreme flashers will actually leave one foot on the brake and the other on the accelerator. This process is widely known as ‘riding the brakes’ and is really not conducive to the health of the vehicle.
Red lights beget other red lights, and before you know it, you have a traffic jam because everyone is confused about why everyone else is stopping. STOP it already!
9. The Snake – A sneaky driver, snakes will slither in and out of tight spots at lightening speed and can be quite dangerous. They tend to want to show off by sn
aking in and out of traffic across multiple lanes in extremely short distances. Most drivers will try to maintain a safe driving distance behind another vehicle which is equivalent to two or more car lengths. Snakes see this gap as plenty of room since they only need one car length to fit in. Many of them are also one-armed wonders (see #3) making it hard to anticipate their activity.
When surprised by an approaching snake, I back off. Waaaay off. Their irrational behavior is too hard to predict and too dangerous to deal with.
10. The Pseudo King Of The Road – Deluded by illusions of self-importance, pseudo kings firmly believe their itineraries are more important than anyone else’s on the road and imagine themselves exempt from following common rules of courtesy and highway protocol. Typical examples of these self-deluded kings’ behavior can be observed when signs forewarn of lane closures ahead. Their royal majesties immediately jump into the lane being closed to circumvent the traffic that is obeying the warnings by moving to the designated lane. Frequently, if this maneuver doesn’t work to their satisfaction, they will move to the shoulder to gain additional distance past those they perceive as poor schmucks whose schedules are simply inconsequential.
On a few occasions, I have observed trucks move into the rolling roadblock formation to stop the pseudo kings in their tire tracks and I applaud. This is one of the very few times when a rolling roadblock is a preferred maneuver to use. Now who’s king of the road?
According to GMAC Insurance, 41 million drivers on the road today would not pass a driver’s written test. That’s scary. It’s almost as scary as driving on the road among these 41 million drivers. You want to be a fool? You want to kill yourself? Fine, just don’t take me out with you. And quit driving me crazy!