Terrible drivers develop dangerous habits: One man breaks it all down


Editors Note: This is meant to be a humorous piece on poor driving habits. This is one man’s argument based on his opinion, not facts.

Being back in the world of co-oping means being back in the world of commuting. Now that I’m on the road again, I’m starting to remember how many of you terrible drivers there are.

I won’t even claim to be a good driver. As a rule, people should never get into a car with somebody who describes his or her behavior behind the wheel of a two ton death machine as anything other than “cautious.”

But you don’t have to be a driving instructor to realize that some of the people on the road have absolutely no clue how to conduct themselves.

They range from annoying to dangerous, and some of them are even illegal, but if we could eliminate these behaviors it would make driving a lot easier. Here are my three least-favorite driving habits.

Not signaling one’s turn:
This one is universal, and it comes in two classic flavors. The first variety is the “I don’t need to tell you when I’m braking” driver. Typically this person is also the “I can accelerate faster than you” driver and the “red lights are for squares” driver. I don’t care how much space you leave between yourself and the next car, it’s startling when somebody suddenly brakes like that.

The second one is the “I don’t need to tell you when I’m changing lanes” driver. This person likes to squeeze into traffic like a rat squeezes into a sewage pipe, and then promptly clog it. Behavior like this tends to cause drivers behind to suddenly brake. According to MIT computer scientist Berthold Horn in a November 2013 NPR segment titled “Phantom Traffic Jams: What Causes Mysterious Highway Backups?” this kind of reaction alone can actually cause traffic jams.

So the next time you’re stuck in traffic for absolutely no reason, just remember that you’re surrounded by rats.

Not clearing the snow/ice/time bomb off of one’s roof:

Isn’t it hilarious when we get a few inches of snow or freezing rain, and it leaves a thick layer of white death on top of your car? No, it’s never hilarious, so why do people think it’s a good idea to drive around at highway speeds with that bad boy stuck to the roof? You know what’s notorious for being sticky? Not freakin’ ice.

Anybody with even the most rudimentary understanding of physics should know what happens in this scenario, but I’m not writing this for them so I’ll elaborate. Basically, a combination of forces causes the ice to separate from the top of your car. At highway speeds, drag causes the airborne ice to slow down enough that the car behind you – also travelling at more than 65 mph – slams into it, usually windshield-first.

The other day I saw this happen so many times that I actually lost count. There were at least four separate cars that were hit by flying ice chunks at least three inches thick, courtesy of their fellow motorists.

Worst of all – I swear this happened – I watched a van on I-75 lose a 4-by-3 foot sheet of ice that flew, spinning, 30 feet in the air before falling to the pavement. Luckily, no one was hit by it.

Not engaging cruise control:
Close your eyes and imagine you’re driving through a world in which everybody in your lane is moving at the exact same speed. Now open your eyes, because why would you drive with your eyes closed? Look down at the controls on your console, and you’ll see the magic button that makes this world possible: Cruise control.

How many times have you been cruising down the highway on a long car ride, when you pull up behind somebody who can’t seem to tell the brake from the gas? The technology to forever extinguish this behavior has been in consumer vehicles since 1958, but some people haven’t found it yet.

If you’re on a wide-open highway and have trouble keeping your speed up, do us all a favor and throw on cruise control.

Now, will this automotive insanity ever end?

Probably not.

But at least I’ll wake up for the morning commute tomorrow knowing that I’ve said my piece.

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