Driving is an activity prone to being the butt of jokes. Most comedians have a bit or two relating to driving as part of their acts. Why because driving is funny. Okay, so other people’s driving is funny. We all know that we, ourselves, are each individually, the best drivers on the road. it’s everyone else who has their head stuck up their [dark smelly place].
In my philosophy there are three kinds of drivers: pansies, A-holes and me. I could write a book on my experience and philosophies on driving. I’ve easily driven over a half a million miles in my life and am probably close to a million. I was once a professional driver. Okay, I was delivering pizza, but I delivered pizza for a couple years and pizza delivery guys are professional drivers.
Pansies are the guys who come to a complete stop before entering the highway from an on-ramp. I know in Driver’s Ed, they teach that yield signs should be treated as stop signs when there is other traffic present, but this is only true if you do not have space to merge. Hint, it’s easier to merge with 60MPH traffic when you are going 60MPH. You need a lot more merge space if you have to start at 0MPH. If there is a merge lane, don’t stop until there is a gap in the traffic lane, use the merge lane to match the speed of traffic-that’s why it’s there.
Pansies think they are the safest drivers. This is completely untrue. Coming to a complete stop in moving traffic is never safe. If Car A is driving at 35MPH on a thoroughfare and the Car B, in front of Car A, stops to make a right hand turn onto a side street rather than just slowing to 15MPH or so, it’s jarring, it’s unexpected and if the driver of Car A were just a little distracted, it could hit them. That 2 second rule is not the stopping distance of a vehicle, it’s the reaction distance. Stopping suddenly in front of another vehicle, when that vehicle has no other choice but to stay on the road, will cause an accident.
Pansies think that slowing to a stop or near stop is being safe, but it doesn’t account for driving defensively in regards to the car behind them. Getting out of the way of traffic is driving defensively and safely.
I’m a big fan of the 2 second buffer, though to be honest, my buffer is usually about 1.6 seconds. That gap between me and the car in front of me is not an invitation to cut me off. Which brings us to the A-Holes…
My wife tells me one of her friends has a husband, who when presented with a long line of slow moving cars heading towards an exit off the highway, will drive alongside it until he sees a gap and then slip in. He thinks he’s helping traffic be more efficient. This is only true if his actions do not cause any other driver to hit their brakes. As I mentioned, the sudden slow down can lead to accidents and it has a butterfly effect and one car braking and slowing in a line means that everyone in the line brakes and slows and there are only two choices for each car in that line that doesn’t result in an accident: Slow at the same rate as the car in front of them, or Slow even more than the car in front of them. Given that there will be variance, the variance will lead to more slowing as the line progresses and it could result in traffic coming to a complete stop. More efficient? Only for the A-hole. Dangerous? Very possibly.
A-holes argue that their driving skill and assertive behavior make them safe for themselves and those around them. This is just typical human rationalization and delusion. It may not be the A-Hole that causes the accident directly, but he is so myopic in his eyes-on-the-prize driving that he won’t notice the accidents he causes around him.
A-holes are best avoided on the road. But how can you tell who to avoid?
Speed isn’t always a give-away. I mean it is, the guys going fifteen mph faster than the traffic around them are surely A-Holes, but sometimes A-holes are not speeders.
Sure there are vehicle-types that are typically driven by A-Holes. Heavy duty pick-ups that have never been outside of city-limits, Guys driving mini-vans who need to prove their testosterone still flows, people driving sports cars prior to their mid-life crisis. (People who have gained an iota of wisdom understand that having the power is more important than exhibiting the power at every opportunity.)
And then there is the A-Hole Detection lane.
I have provided a visual aid:
Car A is a normal driver. We’ll assume the ridiculous and believe that there might be another decent driver in the world who is not me. For purposes of this explanation, that is Car A.
Car B is sitting in the A-hole detection lane. Car B is an A-Hole. We can tell because he didn’t turn right. Car B’s plan is to gun it when the light turns green and cut Car A off. Usually Car B justifies this because there is already a car in Car A’s spot when he approaches the light or there are nine cars behind Car A. Those nine cars are there because they know the other lane ends and they don’t want to be dangerous driving A-holes.
The prudent thing to do, when discovering an A-hole on the road is to put as much distance as possible between you and them. This typically means letting them get ahead of you.
When I’m in Car A’s position, I’ll admit that I have moments of anti A-holism when a car pulls into position B. I don’t try to outrace them and I don’t always let them get ahead. I match their speed. I stay just ahead of them, so their front bumper is parallel with my rear tire. When they give up on the cutting me off, I slow as they slow, but never so much as to force them off the road or anything, I’ll go faster in time to let them merge behind me at the last second. Okay, so the anti A-holism seems a lot like being an A-hole myself–I’m sure you also have your moments of attitude when behind the wheel.
I’m in a carpool with two pansies and one A-hole.
Now you’d think that when your A-holic driving gets you into an accident that you’d learn. Not so much for my carpool’s A-hole.
A few weeks back he was driving and came to this scenario:
He’s approaching the intersection from the south and, seeing the bus in front of him, decides to gun it and pass it on the right (position 1), the thing is that he knows he wants to end up at position 2. That’s one city block. This is a city so the speed limit is 25mph. Gunning it, he hit about 50mph. This means that between the time the bus driver checked his mirrors and the time he changed lanes, he didn’t have time to notice the car changing lanes and gunning it.
Long story short, on that particular day, his car never made it to position 2. He drives a new car now. I think the bus company ended up with the blame for this, but they have a dozen cameras on those buses running constantly. If they noticed our carpool A-hole’s maneuver, they might not have taken 100% of the blame.
For the curious, I was the only passenger in the carpool at the time and I was not hurt beyond a bruised knuckle from bracing when I saw the accident coming.
Unfortunately, since that day, he’s done the same maneuver more than once. I’m contemplating changing carpools, except the other one meets 20 minutes away and works 30 minutes longer each day.
Luckily I have a motorcycle now and, when the weather is warm and dry, I can simply opt to not take the carpool when Mister un-educatable drives. Oh, and when I’m on the motorcycle I don’t even try to be anti A-hole. I just pay attention and stay out of their way.