You’d never guess by reading this post, but I enjoy driving — I figure I’ve logged more than 1 million miles all over the U.S. and Canada, and a respectable number of kilometers in Europe.
Unfortunately, not everyone takes driving seriously. Dysfunctional drivers are annoying at best, dangerous at worst. Here are 12 horrible driving habits that drive me crazy. The worst of the worst behaviors that put odor in the odometer and piss in the pistons.
1. The texter
Creatures from outer space may have the ability to text and drive, but humans do not. And yet every day we see more drivers staring at their smartphones rather than oncoming traffic, mindlessly tapping away instead of mindfully tending to business. Penalties for text driving should be just as severe as those for drunk driving.
2. The turn signal phobic
When you’re behind a car that turns with no notice, you’d better be paying attention or you’ll wind up in a fender-bender or worse. When drivers fail to use turn signals, they’re putting all the burden on us. This is childish because it shows a lack of accountability and stupid because the assumption that the other driver is paying attention is, alas in this day and age, a faulty one.
3. The home wrecker
When certain drivers get into their neighborhoods, they think the rules of the road no longer apply. They stop in the middle of the street to chat with neighbors or talk over dinner arrangements with their kids playing on the sidewalk. They careen over to the left side of the street to check their mailbox. They forget that most accidents happen near home… and they are the reason why.
4. The lost and clueless
They putter along at 10, 20, or 30 miles an hour under the speed limit. They unexpectedly start and stop. They halt at an intersection and ponder the possibilities. Being in the vicinity of the lost and clueless means you better have solid bumpers and auto insurance. One is forced to wonder why these people don’t pull off and get their directional act together instead of turning the roadway into a decidedly unentertaining version of improvisational theater.
5. The wide angle right turner
When you turn right, turn tight. Don’t swing out to the left before the turn, because you’re just asking for someone to bash into the passenger side of your vehicle. It’s elementary driving technique, for heaven’s sake.
6. The left turn fumbler
Speaking of elementary, when exactly did people forget how to make a left turn at a traffic light? You’re supposed to pull halfway into the intersection so that you can make your turn and, depending on oncoming traffic, enable drivers behind you to do the same. Nowadays, people don’t pull into the intersection at all — figuring they’ll wait for the turn arrow on the next cycle, if they’re figuring at all.
7. The red light runner
While turn fumblers are mainly annoying, red light runners are the most lethal people on the road next to drunk drivers. In a crazed desire to save a minute or two at a stoplight, they barrel through an intersection putting their lives and the lives of who knows how many others at grave risk. It’s insane, and it’s a growing problem in my area.
8. The dog lover
Question: Can drivers focus on the road with a litter of lap dogs scampering up the dashboard, licking their chins, and peeing on the floor mats? Answer: No.
9. The bad parker
The varieties are vexing and voluminous: the parallel parker who is 45 degrees off parallel; the selfish pig who intentionally hogs two spots so nobody dings his precious piglet car; the narcissist buffoon who stops in front of the door at Starbucks because the parking spaces 10 feet away are too remote; the pull-in parker who parks on the line instead of between the lines; and of course the parallel parker who takes 10 minutes to finish the job and still bumps into the vehicles in front and behind him or her. This sort of parking must come to a stop.
10. The Good Samaritan
Behind the wheel is a bad place to showcase your generous spirit. When you have the right of way, don’t stop out of the blue to let someone out of a parking lot. All you do is confuse everyone in the vicinity and set the stage for a multi-car pileup. If you want to pile up good deeds, there are better and safer ways.
11. The multitasker
Did you ever see somebody behind the wheel shaving or brushing his teeth? I have. I’ve also seen drivers roaring down Interstate highways eating watermelon, putting on makeup, adjusting wigs, eating salad and smoking a cigarette at the same time, and, I swear to God, playing a trumpet. This sort of behavior will never get you to NASCAR, but should get you to NOCAR.
12. The left lane lingerer
Earth to left lane lingerer: The left lane is for passing slower-moving vehicles. You don’t drive in the left lane for any other reason. You cause traffic backups. You inspire drivers to pass on the right or tailgate. You have serious awareness, ego, or stupidity issues. You don’t belong behind the wheel. In short, move the hell over.
These 12 habits were culled from a master list of about 100, so there are many, many more. What driving habits infuriate you? What do other drivers do that makes you want to rip out your steering wheel and hit them over the head with it? What types of weird multitasking have you seen people do while behind the wheel?
Featured image courtesy of Caitlinator licensed via Creative Commons.