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That’s it. I can no longer keep my mouth shut. Earlier today, I drove the 4.1 miles from my house to a friends house, and 4.1 miles back home. Since I live right in the heart of Atlanta, I’m constantly subjected to the dumb – sometimes downright dangerous – habits of my fellow drivers. Since I’m also by nature slow to get upset, I’m usually pretty much tolerant of them.
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Today was an exception.
It prompted me to want to create a Top 10 List of Dangerously Dumb Things Drivers Do – but I couldn’t keep it to just 10. Anyway, here’s what happened… On the outbound leg, I witnessed a trifecta of driving dopeyness. It was numbers 2.2, 7 and 8. In the face of all that, my blood pressure stayed pretty much normal. On the return leg, however, yet another trifecta pushed me over the edge. A 3 had me rolling my eyes; a #4 caused me to yell at the dufus in front of me; and finally, a 9.3 combined with a 2 combined with a modified 10 combined with an 11 had me doing the classic, both-hands-raised-palms-up, WTF gesture.
Here’s my list:
- Texting/Talking On The Phone; the now infamous distracted driving. While it’s the newest, it easily qualifies as the most dangerous dumb driving habit. Put down your phone! Pay attention to driving! Just stop it.
- Tailgating – I must admit that a few times a year, I’m guilty of this one. It’s usually due to someone executing an 9b, which I’ll get to shortly. Most times though, tailgating is the hallmark of some wimpy coward trying to intimidate the driver in front of him. Just stop it.
- Stupid Signaling – People are amazingly versatile in Illogical use of turn signals.
- Not using them at all. OK, maaaaaybe if you’re totally all alone on a completely deserted stretch of road, you can get away without signalling safely. It’s still a really bad habit to get into though.
- Blinking but never turning. Are you deaf? You don’t hear the clicking? Are you so oblivious that you don’t see the little light blinking on and off? If you’re not about to turn or change lanes, turn the damned turn signal off!
- Blinking right then turning left, or blinking left then turning right. This one really baffles me. If you’re not smart enough to figure this one out, you need to be walking. Just stop it.
- Flashing – This is related to Stupid Signalling, but is egregious enough to stand alone. Trust me. When it’s raining really, really hard, the rest of us are aware that it’s raining really, really hard. You DO NOT need to turn on your 4 way flashers. In most states, in fact, doing so is illegal. Yes, it’s that stupid. So stupid that the majority of our state politicians have gotten involved. Also, in virtually all vehicles, engaging the hazard lights disables the turn signalling system. The whole idea behind hazard lights is to indicate – in all directions – that your vehicle is stopped in a place where a vehicle would not normally be stopped. Hazard lights indicate… wait for it… A hazard! If you’re moving and feel the urge to hit those 4 way flashers, just stop it.
- Waiting Behind The Stop Line While Turning Left
- So you’re at a red light signalling a left turn since you actually want to do so, and the light turns green. Since there are cars coming the other way, you need to wait. Wait out in the middle of the intersection for crying out loud! Don’t sit there like a moron behind the stop line. That line is there for when the light is red. When there’s a gap in the oncoming traffic and you’re already out well past it, you’ve already covered half the total distance involved in the turn. The implication is that at least twice as many cars can make the turn instead of waiting behind you – you causer of worse traffic delays than we already have…
- Waiting Behind The Stop Line Then Running The Red Light – Really??? You sit there behind the line causing the guy behind you to suspect you’re an idiot. Then… you zoom left through the light after it turns red proving you’re an idiot. Just stop it.
- Just Sitting There When The Light Turns Green – Here’s a news flash! Green means go. Got it? When the light turns green, don’t be reading your text messages. Don’t be putting on your lipstick. Don’t be whacking your unruly offspring in the back seat forever confusing them about what the green light means. Green means go. When the light turns green, go.
- Being Oblivious To A Merge Lane – I make a right turn from Boulevard in Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward onto Freedom Parkway just about every day. Sometimes several times a day. Both these roads are 2 lanes in each direction, and are usually quite busy. Because of that, the traffic engineers in my fair city added a hundred-yard long right turn lane on Boulevard and a dedicated merge lane on Freedom Parkway that goes on for half a mile. It’s great! Except for when somebody stops at the end of the turn lane. Mind you now… there’s a half a mile of totally empty road, plainly visible dead ahead. No obstructions or traffic whatever, but there you sit. Waiting for a gap in the traffic in the next lane out. THEN you finally go, and MAYBE realize that you just sat there like a dope backing up 20 or 30 other cars well past where the turn lane starts, screwing up the entire intersection and dissing the fine traffic engineers who tried in vain to make your turn an amazingly simple endeavor. Just stop it.
- Parking In The Right Lane – For this one, I’ll use Atlanta’s most famous thoroughfare, Peachtree Street, as an example. It’s two lanes each way and runs 6 miles or so through the heart of town. It’s busy. It’s lined with shops, restaurants, bars, offices, and retail stores of every flavor. It takes a special kind of stupid to think it makes perfect sense to stop, put on your 4-way flashers, and run into Starbucks for a cup of coffee to go. Or to stop, wait for your slow, fat friends to get out of the car, shake hands, hug, kiss and wave goodbye till next time… So what if there’s a 6 mile long line of cars waiting for you? Just stop it.
- Driving Under The Speed Limit On A Beautiful, Sunny Day
- On a 2-lane interstate highway – Something deep within the psyche of roughly half the driving population gets triggered by the sight of a passing lane on an interstate highway. Some sort of magnetic-like force draws the slower cars into the left lane. A different force kicks in when a car in the left lane gets directly next to a car in the right lane. In that situation, the car in the passing lane precisely matches the speed of the vehicle to its right. The speed-matching lock-step can continue for miles and miles and miles…, effectively eliminating the concept of a passing lane.
- On a 3 or more lane interstate highway – The same left-pulling force operates. The same passing-lane-elimination phenomenon occurs. At least with 3 or more lanes, sane drivers can get into the rightmost lane and have an excellent chance of passing a good many of the cars with afflicted drivers.
- On a road or street with 1 lane in each direction – In this situation, ALL vehicles plummet to the speed of the lowest common denominator. As a slow-poke, you can screw up speed for literally hundreds of cars and single-handedly transform light traffic into a legitimate traffic nightmare. Just stop it.
- Weaving Through Traffic On An Interstate – We’ve all seen the race car driver wannabes constantly changing lanes, zooming past other drivers to both the left AND right in rapid succession, in their zeal to squeeze out a few more miles per hour. I’ve seen studies proving that this technique saves roughly 30 seconds for each 10 miles driven. In other words, if this is you, you’re not only dangerous, but also stupid.
- Extra credit – Multiple lane change – Less frequent, but I saw it last week; from the extreme left lane across the two middle lanes and into the extreme right lane; immediately followed by another swerve across the 2nd lane into the third. Impressive I guess, but easily the biggest butt-head maneuver of the year. Just stop it.
- Cutting Off Another Vehicle – There’s just no excuse for it. It’s the epitome of being arrogant and a jerk. Just stop it.
Which brings me to the coup de gras that I mentioned earlier. The a 9.3/2/modified-10/11 combination that had me doing the classic, both-hands-raised-palms-up, WTF gesture. I was cruising south on the one lane each way Glen Iris Drive. There was a guy in a red BMW in front of me and a guy on a motorcycle in front of him. The rest of the street was totally deserted except for the parked cars lining both sides.
The motorcycle was going painfully slowly… around 10 mph in a 35 mph zone. The Beamer would get no more than 2 or 3 feet off his bumper, then back off, then zoom up to the 2-3 foot range. I watched this clown do this three times. Then…
He accelerates big-time, swerves out into the lane for traffic going the other way, and passes the motorcycle doing at least 50mph. As I’m muttering holy expletive deleted, an Atlanta Police Department patrol car lurches from a parking spot, cuts me off with lights blazing and siren blaring in pursuit of the boob in the Beamer. Thus the WTF gesture, and a large, stiff bourbon when I got home.
I’m your Intentionally Vicarious host, Todd Youngblood – dreaming of the day when the self-driving cars take over and eliminate all the butthead behavior. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue to focus on having more fun than anyone else I know.