“Aggressive” Driving

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Traffic is a problem in the United States, but not solely because there are too many cars and not enough road. A large part of the problem has to do with what’s called throughput.clover lead pic

How efficiently – or not – do the number of cars pass through the available network of roads?

U.S. highways (and especially secondary roads) have terrible throughput. The roads are stop-and-go congealed; getting anywhere seems to take forever. Or rather, longer than it ought to.

Because – in general – American drivers are terrible.

Lazy, oblivious, often poorly skilled. Above all, they are slow. As if in a daze. They’ll pull out right in front of you – then creep forward like a glacial ice sheet – and expect you to brake to accommodate them. If you have to slam on your brakes to avoid rear-ending them, you must have been “speeding” and should “slow down.” They are indifferent to the line of cars stacking up behind them. It never occurs to them to pull off onto the shoulder. (What’s their hurry? They should have left sooner!)  When they pass – if they even make the attempt – they do so cruise control-style, just barely going faster than the car they are attempting to pass. This requires lots of time – and road. Which is why legal passing zones have been disappearing (have you noticed?)

All it takes is one such driver to gum up the throughput of a given road – as by pulling out at a snail’s pace in front of traffic moving much faster, forcing the others cars to brake and thereby interrupting the flow. Other examples include leaving ridiculous gaps between one’s car and the car ahead when stopped at a signaled intersection (such as a left turn lane) and then dawdling for a moment or three after the green light comes on – thereby assuring that only three or four cars (instead of five or six) can clear the light before it goes red again.left lane hog pic

It was not always this way, but since the ’80s – the dawn of the Safety Cult – it has become this way.  For a generation now at least, American drivers have been taught – hectored – to be passive, timid, slow-reacting, slow-moving drivers. And above all, to regard acceleration as the ultimate evil.

To emulate, in other words, the driving style of a glaucomic old lady.

Hence the throughput problem.

It is no different than the problem you’d encounter at an old folks’ home. Ever been to one? Try getting to the third floor via the elevator. They’re set up to move really slowly – so as not to unsettle the old people – and when the doors do finally open, you have to wait patiently for the old folks to shuffle out and in. This can’t be helped, of course. They’re old people. But if you’re not old, is there anything wrong with briskly taking the stairs to the third floor? Should you be required to shuffle along at the old folk’s pace, too?

Same principle applies on the road.Autonbahn pic

Why is everything set up to accommodate – to encourage – the feeblest sort of driving?

In Germany – which has more cars and fewer roads – throughput is much better. You get where you’re going more quickly – and much less stressfully – because in Germany, more is expected of drivers. Who are expected to not drive like glaucomic old ladies.

German drivers do not wait a few moments after the light turns green before they begin to accelerate. They do not – like most American drivers – creep forward, gradually building speed as if they were nursing a broken down old car on the verge of overheating or with a slipping transmission.left lane hog pic 2

When the light goes green, they go.

Right now.

You are expected to pay attention.

Throughput improves.

When German drivers overtake a slower-moving car, they do not do so cruise control (that is, American) style. They move briskly around the car they’re passing, then move briskly back into the right lane. It is over in seconds rather than minutes. In Germany, broken yellow – lawful passing zones – are the rule rather than the exception.

Because German drivers are expected to know how to pass.

Also, to accept being passed.

German drivers – unlike American drivers – scan their rearview mirrors and anticipate the need to move over to the right. They do so before an overtaking car is forced to slow down (because they’re still in the way, as here). Similarly, when German drivers merge with traffic, they do so in such a way as to not interrupt the flow of the traffic they are merging with. They bring their car up to speed rapidly – and (when necessary) increase their speed to faster than the traffic they’re merging with, so as to use that speed to slot in smoothly with traffic without forcing the traffic to slow to accommodate them.speed limit pic

German drivers, in sum, do not use their vehicles to block other people’s vehicles.

This is why Germany can have high-speed Autobahns, where 70 MPH SmartCars can coexist safely with Porsche 911 turbos on cruise control at 135.

It is why throughput is better over there than it is here, even though traffic is denser in Germany.

But by American standards, German drivers are “aggressive.”

What’s not only legal – but encouraged (taught) over there would get you a “reckless driving” citation here.

For example: You roll up behind an old coot doing 47 in a 55 – with 55 being about 10 MPH below the prevailing speed of traffic. Up ahead, there’s a short straight stretch, just enough road – and time – to execute a quick, safe pass. You floor the accelerator, briefly hitting 76, then slot back over to the right after having passed the old lady. You have just committed statutory “reckless” driving (anything in excess of 20 MPH over the posted speed limit being defined as such in several states) notwithstanding the fact that the sooner the pass is done with, the safer the pass.speedo shot

Throughput, again.

Or, not.

By law, you are supposed to not exceed the posted speed limit – ever. Even when passing. How much more time – and space – do you need to pass an old lady doing 47 when you’re limited to going no more than 7 MPH faster than the old lady’s driving?

Hence, people have given up trying to pass.

They risk their safety – if they attempt to pass lawfully. Or they risk the law if they attempt to pass safely.

So most don’t – and the conga line gets longer and longer… .traffic pic

In Germany, slow-motion passing would get you a ticket – perhaps even for reckless driving. Because it’s actually reckless to pass that way.

Over here, it’s the reverse.

Hence, the throughput problem.

A passive (“defensive”) herd that just moseys along, moo moo moo!

If this were “safe” (as the Clovers among us believe) one might groan and bear it. But the reality is that it’s not safe. Passivity and inattention are very dangerous indeed. It is no accident, so to speak, that the U.S. highway fatality rate is higher (per VMT) than it is in Germany, notwithstanding “aggressive” German driving (at much higher speeds).

Because the Germans know how to drive, they can handle speed. Passing, too. old coot driving

Americans increasingly don’t – and so, can’t.

Hence the glaucomic, “defensive” driving model.

Hence, sclerotic throughput.

This won’t change until the cataracts come off and people are once again expected to know how to drive.

Don’t hold your breath.

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114 COMMENTS

  1. I learned some years ago that businesses in towns oppose synchronized traffic lights because they want drivers to be forced to stop. They then hope that the drivers will be looking around and noticing their stores while they are waiting in traffic. Ain’t fascism and crony-capitalism in ‘murica great?

    • Brian – I would not be surprised if you are correct, but that still does not explain the situation in non-commercial districts.

      • I have no links to prove my prior point, but I had read in a newspaper (I think) a reply to the question as to why simple traffic signal synchronized lights seemed so elusive with computer technology while I was living in Springfield, Mo. in the mid to late ’90’s. Back then I could leave for work at 0550, drive through the downtown flashing yellow lights, and get to work 10 minutes early. If I left at 0555, I would barely be on time. If I left at 0600, I would be 15 minutes late. All this because the lights turned from flashing to signals.
        The answer I posted was what I had read back then and is a logical answer. Another reason I had read was about a conflict of interests between the maintainers of state roads and county roads, but neither of those groups had synchronized lights within routes uninterrupted by the other group, so I call BS on that excuse.
        To directly answer your question as to why neighborhoods with less dense businesses also have the same problem: I believe that the State merely ratcheted up the desires of local businesses for revenue/theft purposes.
        I invite everyone to research the goals of their local “Department of Commerce” have. There, you will probably find heavy support for privatizing profits and publicizing loss, along with many other anti-individual liberty stances.

  2. random thoughts:

    the comment about Germans being more obedient is really an old cliché.
    It’s more that the rules, which do get enforced as much as here, are often more sensible, making the fines for truly bad stuff more serious, unlike here.

    Take going through a red-light:
    that’s considered a big deal offence, even tiered into two states:
    going through at (approx.) less than 1s, and at more than 1s after it went red vs “mild speeding.
    Here, at least in many states, point wise, exceeding the limit by 10+ has many more points than a red light offence.

    Also, the speed-excess punishment is not absolute, its relative.
    Here going 36 in a 25 is treated the same as going 76 in 65, but in the first case, the excess is 44% over, vs. only about 17%.
    (not sayting anything about the wisdom of either limit, but its obvious that Garp-nemesis driving in a residential neighborhood is worse than same on a highway).

    The comment about only a minority having a license or car is just not true.
    There may be less cars per capita (but q.e.d. that too), because they are more expensive to buy and operate, but it’s not a sea-change like you describe.

    • You won’t find very many people <40 who don't have a license, it's as much a rite of passage as here, even if it's super pricey.

      Switzerland just made it illegal to pass in the left line below a certain speed differential, yeah!
      I believe it's 10km/h, but not sure of the deets.

      In NJ, left-lane hogging is an offence worth 2 points, it's called "failure to keep right". But it's only ever enforced when the month is getting to it's end, or when the cop feels like it, meaning hardly ever.

      In Germany right-side passing is ALWAYS illegal, no matter how long you've been in the lane you're in.
      if there is a car to the left of you going slower, he set's your speed limit in the lane you're already in. Want to go faster, move over, pass on left. (obviously doesn't work in a two laner….)

      But at the same time, that driver is violating the keep right rule, which is also harshly punished (if not caught as much).

      Trucks have a general speed limit of only 62mph. This and the keep right and passing rules means they are in the right a lot, so that the right lane SUCKS, it's noticeably rougher, sometimes a real rattle-pit….

      Lastly google "Noetigung". Not easy to translate, but its an offence, serious one too, that applies to someone enforcing their will on you by either forcing you to slow down instead of moving over OR by tailgaiting you. This one, along with the ability to file a complaint against the offending driver, does help.

      Round-abouts, that the commenter above so hates, are a good idea, because they really do foster through-put IF:
      people only use them right, and if they're designed right.
      Hereabouts, stupid drivers and stupid engineers fail on both accounts, leading to their dislike.
      But they are much better than a four-way intersection with lights.

      Two things that also fit into Eric's comment about through-put, and stupid engineering:

      The legions of red-light highways and county roads, where you leave at one light at proper speed only to arrive at the next light timed to just go red. They're never sequenced, which isn't hard, and I think it's done on purpose, after all, we wouldn't want to make it better for drivers.

      Right-before-left ignorance, you all know this one:
      If you're entering a street from the right at the typical intersection WITHOUT a stop sign, you have the right of way.
      Take it without stopping and you risk getting T-boned on your side, at the very minimum you'll get an angry honk from the idiot who thinks you cut HIM off, so you learn to act as IF there's a stop sign, because you don't want to deal.

      Here again, engineering and signage fail:
      In Germany (and Europe) there are right-of-way signs which tell you that the street on your right has a stop-sign, so that you don't have to slow for that traffic. In the US, you have just don't know, so technically, you'd have to slow down at every intersection if you see a car there.

      Smartly they REVERSE the right-before-left rule for ANY round-about, the in-circle traffic has the right of way, that's what makes it so efficient at moving cars for proper through-put…

      And BTW, if you take the driving test in Germany in an automatic car, you have an auto-only drivers licese that does not permit driving a manual transmission car.

      • In the USA the major road has priority. Entering traffic yields regardless if there is a stop sign or not. Traffic already on the road has priority. I saw nothing that showed this was different in Germany.

      • Chris T

        “..where you leave at one light at proper speed only to arrive at the next light timed to just go red”

        Yep. One road here in Oz is bad for that, and it goes for many miles with many lights on it. You have to be at least 20k above the limit to make it through with minimal interruption. When nobody overtakes anyone you’re guaranteed to have a long and irritating trip.

        Problem with many roads like this is that you eventually get so used to stopping at the lights EVERY SINGLE TIME that you eventually stop for a green. Done it a few times on this road and seen many more guilty of it as well. Clover would disagree (of course), but speeding is the safer option to avoid brainwashing.

      • Reading all the state laws about keeping right and left lane passing only I came on some states that make blocking people by driving in the left lane a pretty rough fine. It’s supposed to be in Texas and while I once heard of somebody getting a ticket for such I have never seen it. Of course i’ve only driven a few million miles.

        Brian, I think where the Chamber of Commerce is located has a great deal to do with their priorities. Back in the mid-80’s I belonged to a group of truck farmers that wanted to supply and belong to the Green Dragon Growers, people who were wanting to “legally” import Asian seed to service the plethora of Asians in this country. The Asian population in Texas is large and not just in cities. Asian food with real Asian veggies is highly south after.

        We have not only local but state and the national Chambers of Commerce on our side as well as most everybody else including the USDA. But I guess we didn’t come up with the proper amount of graft for the US Customs service since they continued to block it and killed a completely new type of agriculture in this country. The gap has never been filled and what has been filled is imported.

        Of course my suggestion was getting more immigrants to smuggle seed in since they do it commonly anyway, just more of them. if everybody that emigrate here had everything they brought stuff with seed in double walled things and even their clothes they could get a good seed farm going and get around the govt. I wasn’t the only one on board with this method but it couldn’t really be spoken of in a formal context.

        • Back in the 60s when my uncle moved to Berkeley for grad school, he was on a highway (5?) in his microbus, going as fast as it would go – maybe 60 in a 65. Someone tried to pass him on the right and CHP nailed them both. Twofers like that help make your quota.

    • I found Germany has sensible, logical rules for interaction for things like roads. People obey them because they make sense to obey and obeying them benefits everyone. Enforcement seemed very rare and not needed. It’s a very simple principle of making the rules sensible to get compliance. The rules serve more as a guide of best practices. Violating the rules doesn’t get one ahead.

      In the USA the rules are ‘because I said so’. They are often arbitrary dictates of the political class. The way the culture functions those who don’t obey and don’t get enforced upon benefit. Getting enforced upon depends largely on perception of who a person is, what social and economic class he belongs to. Being able to violate the rules has benefits over those who have to obey. Enforcement is common and done for profit. Often what is sensible is illegal because doing so is profitable. Road systems are deliberately mis-engineered as a way for those in government and close to it to scam the public.

      Now I realize the creeping crud of the american system is infecting Germany as it has much of the world so they have speed cameras and other nonsense.

      • Brent we have seen your videos where you were disobeying the exact rules that Germany has and it was making driving bad for everyone around you. Why are you able to follow the laws in Germany but in the USA you claim to be a Libertarian and follow no rules and makes your driving suck?Clover

          • CloverEvery video you have taken Brent you do something wrong. Tailgating, speeding, passing on the right, using your horn inconstantly . Brent the list goes on and on. All of these are against the law and frowned upon in Germany. You have even admitted to all of these.
            Mithrandir enjoys your poor driving. Have him post the links.

              • Mithrandir you are the troll. Tell me what good your last post did? It was a statement a 3 year old would say. Just the other day Brent said yes he tailgated but that is the norm where he drives. Mithrandir take your childish statements and go crawl into a hole. Clover
                Yes and you were the one the one that said it was your right to not follow merging signs on the interstate. You said that some law must override the sign. It is your right to drive poorly. Libertarians can never have driving like in Germany because you say that you have the right not to follow laws of good driving like they do in Germany.

                  • Mithrandir there is not a single post of yours that is worthwhile. What is your story? We know you do not know how to drive because you look high and low for any type of technicalities that allow you to drive poorly. Go to Germany and see how many days you can go without a ticket.Clover

            • And yet you can’t cite even one. Not one link. You lie. Go back under your bridge.

              Germany doesn’t have drivers like you. Without drivers like you all the problems go away.

              • Brent you post all of your videos and I will point out the dozens of laws that you break and everything that Germany says that is poor driving and the dozens of things that are against the rules of the road in Illinois which you live. You say your are a libertarian though and it is your right to drive poorly.Clover

                • And I never realized clover was also a lawyer. I deal with traffic violations all too often. What one coptard says is illegal isn’t even mentioned by another.
                  Older officers in less populous counties aren’t nearly so interested in stuffing the county coffer for the most part as those whose job exists for no other reason.

                  A DL requirement should be 6 months of riding with a trucker. But that would influence everybody’s opinion of the badged revenooers…… and the TPTB certainly don’t want that.

                  • Clover
                    Eightsouthman if you have seen Brent’s videos then you would know his driving is poor against the law or not. You just do not care though. Eightsouthman I have never had one single problem around truckers because I respect others. The only one people like Brent respect is themselves. Brent has show videos of truckers well in front of him legally changing lanes but when Brent saw this and felt the trucker may delay him for a second he stood on his horn and sped up to block the trucker. I am sure you love guys like that. People like Brent do not want you as a trucker to pass another trucker because it will make him take his foot off the gas for a few seconds. Eightsouthman why is it that you love such selfish drivers? Do you stay behind a slower driver because you may delay someone hundreds of yards behind you? Explain how you drive.

                    • clover, I do stay behind slower traffic to not block others who are traveling faster than the slower driver and often myself. If I can’t make a pass quickly or block others before i can pass i simply wait. People aren’t particularly happy when they have to wait for me to pass someone I can only pass about a mile per hour. What I see in my mirrors greatly affects how I drive.

                      Often, clovers slow down when they could simply maintain their current speed and pass me. I have no idea why someone wants to hang out as long as possible beside my truck except they’re bad drivers. I see this a great deal.

                      When I approach a slower vehicle and someone who COULD pass me quickly slows down and is about to do the old “let’s see how long I can take to pass” routine, I signal and pull over in front of them and make my pass. I drove about 500 miles yesterday and had to wait many times to pass or either slow a line of vehicles that were moving faster than me. And I have no problem with that if they’ll go ahead and pass. And several times yesterday when someone was approaching much faster and then backed out to do one of their creep-arounds, I simply pulled out and passed and said to hell with that. Those types are going to slow everyone behind them anyway. Driving is always playing each and every situation differently.

                      One law I always obey is staying in the right hand lane. Every mile or two on Tx. roads there is a sign saying “Left Lane for Passing Only”. I take it seriously. You’ll NEVER find me in the fast lane if I’m not passing someone or traffic is being narrowed down to one lane or I have to bow and scrape and move over into that lane to not be illegally passing a coptard harassing some other driver.
                      When they first passed the “emergency vehicle” law in this state, state troopers and the like would operate in pairs so that the people who didn’t know about the new law could be caught on that technicality and ticketed. They no longer use that tactic since everyone knows about that law.

                      Yesterday I was approaching a sheriff’s car with full reds and blues so I began stopping in the only lane there was to comply with the law. I was down to just a few mph when he went by. He was only doing 50 or 55, and chasing no one nor speeding to an accident. He was merely slowing traffic which was very stupid since it was very heavy with most of it being big rigs and small vehicles in-between. What he thought he was accomplishing is anybody’s guess. What he was doing in actuality was causing a very dangerous situation. I wouldn’t have stopped to piss on him if he was on fire after that stupid move.

                • In order to “point out” something you need to cite the video and time in that video. You’ve done nothing of the sort.

                  I also have never said I am a libertarian. Perhaps you should cite that as well if you’re going to claim otherwise.

                  Of course you’ll never back up your claims because you’re lying.

                    • Brent! Post links of all of your poor driving,. Include the ones on your bike where you were breaking laws. They are on UTube you said. send us the links. Do you underrrrrstand?Clover

                    • Clover, I have no idea what you’re talking about. It is your obligation to prove your claims. If you don’t which videos then it’s pretty clear you are lying.

                    • Brent it is not my duty to go out and search for your videos in which I have already viewed and yes you were breaking many laws and rules of the road. It really does not matter because people here are blinded by stupidity and only see what they want to see. Anyone who says that the most important law that people break is not driving 20 mph over the speed limit or whatever needs to move to any other country and see how they do. Clover
                      You have already proved to me that you are a poor driver with your videos. I do not need to see them again. If you want to prove to others that in those videos you were driving correctly then it is your job to list the links.

                    • Clover,

                      It’s your obligation – as the person making an accusation – to support the accusation. It is not Brent’s duty to provide the material – the “videos in which I have already viewed and yes you were breaking many laws and rules of the road” – for you.

                    • Clover, I am not going to defend against your fabricated trolling charges. It is your duty to do back them up with something. Either do so or go away. You bore me.

                    • CloverEric and Brent you have both proven to me you are poor drivers. That is enough for me. If people care to believe otherwise then they can believe liars like both of you. It seems to me that Eric and Brent have stated how poor of a driver that I am but neither have provided any proof. At least I could give a sworn statement on how poorly you both drive.

                    • Clover, it is your arguments and behavior here that give away your driving. I also cited them in the past. There’s no need to now. You display it continuously.

                    • So Brent if you have nothing to hide about your driving then common sense would say that you would not be ashamed to provide the links to your videos. Do you have something to hide?Clover

                      Editor’s Observation: Clover likes to channel Dark Helmet from Spaceballs.

                      So, Lonestar… I see you have the ring. And your schwartz is as big as mine!

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI0i_tL-8aU

                    • Clover,

                      Clearly, English is a second language for you. You could also use some remedial instruction when it comes to the rules of debate etiquette.

                      If you make an accusation or claim, the obligation is on you to support it. It is not the obligation of the person you’ve accused (or who disputes the claim) to produce contrary evidence.

                      But, it’s of a piece with your advocacy of presumptive crime based on what might (but has not actually) happened. Your totalitarian urge to punish people who’ve harmed no one. Because you feel they (a general “someone”) might.

                      Poor ol’ Clover!

                    • eric, you really have to wonder where clover originated. I heard her grand-daddy made far-reaching observations too such as “Electrified guitars? That will never catch on”.

                      BTW, running across west Tx. yesterday with a hotshot load that was very time sensitive I was struck by the utter stupidity of 75mph PSL’s and never drove less than 80 as no one else did either. I could easily have done 90 or 100 with the 550 Dodge(if it could keep from over-heating, a big problem we have with several of them)and the 32 ft. gooseneck since it was a light load. Going back, quite literally in the middle of nowhere, a sheriff SUV was collecting revenue even though traffic was light and the only danger is LEO’s turning around in front of traffic.

                      All was not lost however since I got to hear 3 hours of a great John Prine interview on Outlaw Country. John did several songs during the interview and had everybody laughing during Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_vTY67Wd9I

                    • Sorry Eric. I have seen a dozens of Brent’s videos in which he was blaming others for not compensating for his poor and illegal driving;. I do not have to come up with evidence because I have already seen it. In a court of law I could testify to the facts that I saw. If I saw someone stab another person I would not have to come up with the knife in which he stabbed the person. I could testify to what I already saw. Just like the line of cars that you disrupted when you passed twice moving other cars back.Clover

                    • Nothing to be sorry about, Clover. You’ve simply not proved anything – just tossed out your usual feelings and opinions, which you seem to believe are synonymous with facts!

                      PS: I doubt your schwartz is as big as mine!

                    • Eric you are a joke. You said all I gave was opinion? Really. What do you call following someone in a car at over 60 mph within a car length of the car in front of you? What would you call that? Would it be my opinion that he is tailgating or would it be a fact? Clover

                      What would you call someone pulling between two cars and the one in back is following about 2 seconds behind the car in front? Would you call someone pulling between them a person that is pushing back the car behind you?

                      Eric, facts are far from opinions.

                    • Clover, I have dozens of videos. I am not indexing them for your sake. You want to pay me to do it? $100/hr. Paid in advance in two hour increments.

                    • Why oh why Eric don’t you take a shotgun to your head and end your misery. Do you have a 5 IQ for buying a house where the road you travel every day has recommended speeds less than you are capable of driving? Why the hell don’t you move or blast your head off?Clover

                    • Well, for openers, I’m far too handsome for that!

                      But also, I’m not miserable. I enjoy dissecting your kind. Also, passing your kind… and laughing as I glance in the rearview and see the Clover flashing its lights and honking its horn… saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety!

                    • BrentP, I finally have to ask: Is this your clover fee or good customer fee? I certainly wouldn’t charge them the same rate. I WILL charge you more if you’re doing it on purpose.

                    • Eric you are just stupid. You said you are against tailgating yourself and then complain about another car not tailgating. I have never seen anyone as stupid as you except for Brent and Mithrandr are pretty much even with you.Clover

                    • Hey Clover,

                      Ever wonder why virtually no one here ever agrees with you? Are the thousands of people who read EPautos all “stupid idiots” … while you’re some kind of got-damned genius?

                    • Now you got it Eric. Anyone that pays you for your garbage articles and stupid ass videos of your poor driving then yes they be idiots. Do they get excited when you complain about cars in front of you not driving 25 mph faster than the recommended speed around a blind corner. Yes they be idiots. Do they pay you more when a normal everyday good driver is told to pull off the road so that you can go 20 mph over the limit around corners and on hills? Yes they be idiots. Do they get excited and pay you more when you say anyone that is tailgating you that you will slam on your brakes but then in your video you complained about another car not tailgating Yes they be idiots. Do they get excited when you pass a couple of cars and then pull in front of them and move them back. Yes they be idiots.Clover

            • Clover:

              “Tailgating, speeding, passing on the right, using your horn inconstantly”

              So he’s not blowing his horn constantly? Is that against the law? What law?

              “Inconstantly”? You’re making up words too now? Face it, you don’t just have brain farts – your entire life is a typo.

              • At least she didn’t say ‘incontinently.’
                But she probably would pee her Depends if she had to drive in real traffic like Brent does.

  3. I have been driving 41 years since I received my license at the age of 16.
    I have several complaints about the “new” driving here in the most exceptional USSA:

    People cut corners so often that they think that is how it is supposed to be done. I will be pulling up to a stop sign and someone coming from my right will almost knock my front end off because they are cutting across part of my lane to make a left turn, and they are so ignorant that sometimes they will honk at me as if I’m doing something wrong.

    People will NOT pull out into the intersection so they can turn left when the light changes. If there is no turn arrow and no let-up in traffic then no one ever gets to turn. This is the way they teach in Defensive Driving now, instead of the proper way, because they have gotten people so afraid to pull out into the intersection.

    It does seem like we live in the bizzarro world now, with people driving fast when they should drive slow, like when the light 500 ft ahead just turned red, and they fly up to the light and slam on their brakes (presumably to get back to texting), and drive terribly slow when they should be moving it, like when the light turns green.

    • I have to laugh at you Charlie. It is the aggressive driver that speeds all the way to the intersection. I have noticed that for years. They fly by me and slam on their brakes when they get to the light. I drive slower when I see there will be a red light and pass the aggressive driver still driving at 20 to 30 mph when they are still standing still. I have to laugh when I think about the aggressive driver that is stuck behind me when I slow down before the intersection. They probably have a mental stoke until I drive past the idiots that are just starting to move at the intersection when I am driving 30 mph or whatever.Clover

  4. Come to Austin, TX where you can experience true third-world driving. Forbes even rated Austin as having the worst drivers in the USA. If you like being alive, you will learn to drive fast and decisively down here to get away from the non-licensed illegals, bearded-smartphone-obessesed, hipsteer crazies, and simple ‘can’t fix dumb’ drivers. All… around… you…

    • I remember the first time I drove to Michigan to meet my wife’s family. As I got off the OH turnpike near Toledo, I looked at the clock and said ‘Oh Crap! We’re going to hit Detroit just about 4pm.’
      And as I drove out the other side, I said “Where was the rush hour traffic? The DC Belchway is worse than that at noon.” And this was 20 years ago, before Detroit died.

    • SS,

      I lived in Austin from 1980 through 2012. Here are the issues there. There are way too many people living in the Austin/San Antonio metro area. There is not enough water to support that many people. Austin is full of “progressive”, smart growth fascists and you people have a totally evil head pig in Arcevado. Many of the people moving in from California and other hell holes bring their socialist values with them and want to compel everybody else to toe their values line. The original, individualist Texans are first overwhelmed and finally leave in disgust. Whenever I visit, I thank Crom that I no longer have to endure the bullshit that comes with living there. I do miss my friends and some of the nice features of the Austin area, but it’s such a hassle to take advantage of said features that it seems hardly worth the effort. BTW, have any of the Austin pigs murdered anybody’s dogs lately? And, your traffic has really become awful, plus you have to suffer from Rick Perry’s forced toll road fiasco. From the Armadillo World Headquarters to modern fascism in three short decades. Man, what a ride.

      • GC, you nailed it. I used to live at Cedar Park and participate in all the “stuff” going on in Austin with some of my good friends, many of them former Lubbock people like the Hancock boys and Joe Ely who lived a couple blocks from me and we hung out there and later in the Austin areas. Good friends of mine had a club in Dallas and practically supported Stevie Ray for years and got him into the big time. Hell, I had a friend in Sweetwater who practically gave Stevie a good guitar when he was just a little junkie punk….but he stayed with it and made everybody else look like wannabes.

        And the days of Armadillo Wordl HQ and Alsleep at the wheel were great along with Commander Cody and Doug Sahm. We were outlaws, out and out and moved to hard to find locations frequently. Not so much that we were outlaws but the pigs never let up on us. And we never let up on rubbing their nose in it.
        But Austin was great in the 60’s and 70’s and even the 80’s and then it all went to crap. We moved from Cedar Park in ’76 when the clubs way out in the boonies were thriving. For the most part it was a good place but then the yankees moved in and had no couth. They couldn’t be discrete if their lives depended on it……and they did so naturally, they gave up everything they knew for all the good people.

        I could tell you true stores about what went on and it continually got worse and worse LEO wise. So now I’ll stop because the better part of discretion is discretion ha ha. I won’t go those places where ramarod went. It’s history for me and I have nothing to prove. But those were great times and even Hippie Hollow was a really nice place till the hardcore narcs set in and the yankees who got install in city and county govt.’s got a good toehold and began to do their NE Hitler thing.

  5. 1) I hate roundabouts. The ones in my part of the world generously provide one and one-half lanes for traffic.

    2) On two lane, when I anticipate a passing opportunity approaching, I drop back several additional car lengths behind the passee. Then I floorboard the gas so I am moving much faster than the passee when I pull into the left lane.

    3) Many operators slow tremendously when turning right, as though there is a full pan of water on the seat they don’t want to spill.

    4) Other operators pull way into the left lane so they can turn right. Might be justified if pulling a long trailer, otherwise not.

    5) There are many who seem to figure that center lines in rural roads are mere suggestions.

    • “There are many who seem to figure that center lines in rural roads are mere suggestions.”
      But if there is no one else around, why should they even be suggestions?

  6. I subscribe to the Vince Lombardi School of Defensive Driving – you remember, “The best defense is a good offense.”

  7. While your essay and related complaints about US drivers is on target, comparison to Germany isn’t. Germany is a densely populated nation where most people travel via rail, bus or tram and is (compared to the US) fairly small and compact. A large majority of US citizens eligible to drive do so, have cars and licenses.
    In Germany, only a minority have cars or licenses. Too expensive. Their requirements for licenses discourage all but the most determined. Germans are homogenous and noted for their willingness to automatically obey rules and orders. US citizens are not the same and are very diverse.
    As to the “three second hesitation” (essential in my large SW city) that is necessary to avoid being broadsided by the late yellow light crosser barreling towards you if you jump on the green light. The instant start is suicidal. So this isn’t some crazy, lazy habit but a prudent tactic.
    Germany is unique and many other places are more like the US. It is true many US drivers are stupid, lazy, distracted or thoughtless. That is the result of driving “democracy.” If only 20% of our population had drivers licenses after spending $1000 and months getting one, we’d look more like the Germans. But that’s not going to happen. Nor should it.

    • CloverThanks Muggles for backing me up. You said “Germans are homogenous and noted for their willingness to automatically obey rules and orders. US citizens are not the same and are very diverse.” There are stupid people in the USA and many of them are right here on this site. They think that throughput of a road is all about driving as fast as possible. They do not realize that the best throughput is all cars driving nearly the same speed. The idiots here can not figure out why there are packs of cars. They say it is a slow driver ahead but it is more like the so called top 15 percent of speeders that have to go faster than everyone else and then tailgate and have to apply brakes with something as simple as a car entering the road. Those drivers are just as bad or worse than the so called really slow cars. They all talk about the 85 percent speed limit rule. They forget to tell you that if that is used the top 15 percent of drivers can and should get a speeding ticket. Brent says that he does not tailgate because that is the norm where he lives. Tell Brent that is not the norm for good driving like in Germany. Good driving starts with how you drive.

      • If you slow drivers would stay to the right as you are supposed to, the left lane would be open to those who want to drive faster and they would not be tailgating. Take another look at the autobahn regulations. If someone is gaining on you, you move right to get out of their way.
        I hope you don’t look as stupid as you sound.

        • Phillip the Bruce you are a brain washed idiot. Phillip I never see a slow car the left lane. Of course if you call someone going 10 mph to 20 mph over the limit a slower car then in Germany they would be given a ticket for going over the speed limit and not for not moving right. If you want to drive 30 mph faster than someone else then move to Germany and only drive in the half of the Autobahn that has no limits. In the other half if you still want to drive fast good luck with your fine. All I want is for you lovers of Germany is to have you move there. Good luck with that. If you want others to obey rules to make driving better and safer here then start with yourself. Libertarians by definition listen to only themselves. They make up their own rules. I have seen some of the worst driving ever by Libertarians and they were complaining about others when they were driving poorly. Good luck changing them.Clover

          • Clover writes:

            ” I never see a slow car the left lane.”

            And I have yet to see Jesus incarnate, so I guess we’re even.

              • Because Clover’s going slower than every car on the road – even to the point of annoying the slow left-laners..

            • I don’t know why posters on this site (and Eric) continue to respond to the logical fallacies , ad hominem arguments and borderline illiterate writing of this fool. Stop feeding the troll and it will go away.

              • Escher, I’ve said the same thing many times…….and then I find I have just clicked on Post Comment to the silly ass and mentally kick myself.

          • ” I never see a slow car the left lane. “

            More proof Clover doesn’t drive in any sort of well populated area.

          • Clovər,

            On a multilane highway I need to move to the right (39:4-82. Keeping to right) to let faster traffic go unimpeded, regardless of the speed (39:4-97.1. Slow speeds as blocking traffic) I am traveling at that time. (assuming that it is safe to move to the right)

            Even if there were no laws pertinent on this matter, it would be more considerate on my part not to block the travel of others. (This can simply be summed up as: Keep Right Pass Left) Why should it be my concern to block another traveler because they wish to travel faster than I choose to travel. It is easy to let them pass, be on there way and out of my area.

            It does not make much sense to drive in the left lane at a speed that impedes other drivers. This action causes them to either drive at my rate of speed or pass me on the right.

  8. Every morning on my way into work I pass one of the best designed on-ramps on all of I-70. It’s easily a quarter mile long and a steep downhill from the overpass. And every morning a long parade of commuters crawl down the on-ramp and drift onto the highway at speed well below the 75 MPH PSL. Because there are more of them than most of us already on the interstate, we have to move over to the passing lane if we want to maintain any sort of momentum. Only after they’re on the highway do they speed up to the highway speed, usually taking far longer to accelerate than necessary. This has the effect of creating a perfect bottleneck because the people in the passing lane are trying to pass someone who is accelerating, but to what cruising speed is a mystery. And then there’s the people who “flinch” when merging and slam on the brakes at the last minute.

    That thing under your foot used to be called an accelerator. It’s purpose was to get the vehicle moving. Now it’s called a “gas pedal.” It’s purpose is to destroy the Earth, or something. It certainly isn’t there to control the automobile.

    • Eric, you’re correct about that pedal. When I was 14 in driver’s ed(what a joke, most of us had been driving for years) we were schooled in using “passing gear” and people used it back then. I haven’t heard that term in a long time.

  9. Great article, Eric.

    I’ve just been bit by this over sensitivity to drivers who are able to asses the traffic situation, control of their vehicle (vs Clover), and get efficiently through traffic. Plus the current fad to criminalize everything.

    On a 4 lane road I was approaching a knot of cars (Clovers are apparently herd animals) using both lanes in my direction. The cars in the left lane were going slowly and the cars in the right lane were approaching the cars in the left lane by going every so slightly faster. There was a gap but it was closing. If I didn’t get through I was going to be stuck for a long time. I was a cropduster at one time and know how to weave through obstacles in two dimensions so it was instinctive to accelerate and maneuver through this traffic while I could.

    Unfortunately one of the herd was a cop in an unmarked car. As I got through the gap I glanced in my mirror and saw his lights come on. I pulled over immediately. He said he didn’t know how fast I was going (he had no chance to clock me) so he wrote me up for careless driving. This carries a lot of points plus the fine.

    I mentioned it to an acquaintance who is a cop on the same force as the one who stopped me. He said he might help me. I told him I didn’t care about the fine but it would be great if I could get the points reduced. After some back and forth the citation was changed to something with no points and a smaller fine. Win-win I thought and accepted it. I didn’t pay much attention to the new charges.

    That was just over a year ago. Recently I was offered a job with a major airline. The dream of every pilot. I quit my current job and started looking for an apartment near my new employer. I filled out an application for a new residence which was promptly rejected. The background check they did on me turned up “criminal” activity. Upon investigation it turns out that the “lesser charge” I pled guilty to a year ago (something to do with disorderly conduct) is a criminal offense.

    I am in the process of looking for a lawyer to help me remove this blemish (my cop “friend” says it shouldn’t be too hard) but only have a short time before my new job starts. The new employer has not completed a background check on me but if this turns up they may retract the job offer. I told them of my situation and hope they will work with me but time is limited.

    From my past experience with lawyers, cops and other government agents I don’t expect a great outcome.

  10. I’d like to suggest that the “keep right” rule be changed in the US to “keep left” (for roads with multiple lanes anyway). So many Americans already automatically get in the left lane now anyway, just make that the rule. Put the passing lane on the right. Consider it an evolution, or spontaneous order, and stop fighting what is organically happening. Left turns are harder to make and slow down traffic more, so they will slow down already slower traffic. Right turns are quicker and easier, so won’t slow down faster traffic as much.

    Just an idea. Maybe next we can talk about how stupid bike lanes are.

    • Last Friday I came up on a new SUV pulling a trailer, a 40 ish man and woman obviously not competent to drive since he was doing so in the left lane. I was traveling several mph faster so I got down on the horn right beside the little wifey and pointed at a sign we were just coming to LEFT LANE FOR PASSING ONLY. Now what’s so damned hard about that? It’s always been that way since I’ve been aware of driving rules and that’s been a long time. Incompetent husband signals and moves right immediately behind me, too closely as a matter of fact. I guess that was his revenge or maybe he just woke up because of the horn.

      I-20 is a stupid place to drive badly since the traffic, esp. on Friday afternoons is hauling ass.

      Recently in the Eagle pulling a sand can that was empty I had the cruise on 78(also a Friday)and was getting passed regularly. So mom in her small SUV enters and gets up to speed beside me instead of punching it and going on in front. She decides to pass me on the right, a brilliant move on a big rig. So she passes and I pull in behind her and she promptly slows down. Now I have to check for faster traffic and pull into the passing lane so she speeds up and I do too and pass her again. I drop back to cruise at 78 and she follows a bit and then pulls out to pass me….very slowly and when completed, slows down. Now I’m pissed. I either have to kick it off cruise or go around her again. So I go around and she speeds up. Now I’m getting hot when all of a sudden she slams on the brakes and pulls into an exiting lane. Well, mom, you just showed your 3 kids some really bad driving. Maybe they’ll grow up to be just like you, probably just like Your mom.

      There is a clover that can’t stand to be passed by big rigs but never, ever speeds up enough in the entrance lane to get in front, even when they have way more time than needed. And of course, they have to pull this same stuff she did. I see a lot of close calls and lots of pissed truckers who are ready to move back in and then realize they have an idiot who’s going to pass them to the inside. I notice when big rigs are really thick and hauling butt clover isn’t so keen to get in that lane with another rig right behind that the rig in front just passed. Lots of close calls….and worse from this type of driving.

    • geoih – that might be a reasonable idea if you could get all the on and off ramps moved to the left also.

  11. Good article!
    I have been driving “German style” for the last 50 years or so. One of my cars is an old Mercedes 240D, which is considered one of the slowest cars on the planet. I STILL am able to pass slow, distracted American-style drivers and get to my destination quickly and safely. Freeway merging is not a problem either. The suggestion of going faster than than the speed limit to merge is another one of my long-time practices.
    Here in Michigan, it is legal to pass on the right if there are more than two lanes in the same direction of travel.

  12. Southern France, mid-1990s. I’m walking along with a British colleague and we’re about to cross a wide street at a crosswalk. There’s a car barreling along, and I judge that at its speed, it will reach us just as we’re about in the middle of the crosswalk. I hesitate, but my Brit friend keeps walking, nonchalant as can be. The car quickly but smoothly comes to a stop with its front bumper a few inches short of the crosswalk. Only then do I continue across the street. Catching up with the Brit, I ask how he knew the car would stop in time. He points at the license plate, which apparently identifies the car as being from Germany, and says, “German driver. They’re very disciplined.”

    True story. I really expected to get my first view of British road kill as the situation was developing. A panic stop or a crash into the trees seemed to be the only ways the car could avoid hitting my friend. But that driver knew his vehicle and his own capabilities, so in the end it was a routine case of two pedestrians crossing the road and the car stopping for them. Wonder how that would have played out in the USSA?

    • I’ve told this story here before, but here in the USSA there are people who, which you may have encountered that get their jollies out of making cars stop for them. Anyway once upon a time I was driving along the back drive of a parking lot. Up head there is couple that is going to cross. (no crosswalk) They hurry up through the oncoming lane and then once in front of me slow to a crawl. I don’t react and keep driving a steady 15mph. When I am about 10ft from them (yes, they were practically standing in the traffic lane) I stop quickly. The woman then comes towards my car window and starts yelling at me for pretending not to see them. The man steps out of the way so I just accelerate swiftly and leave.

      As to pedestrian crossings I’ve been crossing in front of stopped cars and the driver just drives into me. I am standing right in front of him but….

      I don’t like everything about Germany but transportation there is wonderful with disciplined people. Plus most people have their shit together. The daily problems caused by idiots in all sorts of jobs just doesn’t exist. It’s really nice in those respects.

      • Cure for this, Mr. P:
        When a “king-of-the-road” jaywalker attempts to do this, next time pretend to be looking for something on the passenger seat or down in the center console.
        Of course, you will continue to watch the malefactors with your eyes, but they will not see your eyes. Instead, they will see only your nose and head position and assume you are distracted and cannot see them. Evasive manouvers and quickened paces on their part should ensue.
        I have tried this technique with some success.

  13. I swear they deliberately design the roads here to be a congealed cluster f**k.

    Take one example, a plurality of the townships around here have basically outlawed the left hand turn. What I mean is, you get to an intersection, and, the ‘only’ time you can make that left is if the indicator is green — and every intersection has left turn light now. It doesn’t matter if there are no oncoming traffic, or if it has cleared. You miss the that 20 second chance (which sadly is often because it seems only 3 cars make it through), you’re stuck for another ~2 minute cycle. More asinine, and just to stick with the left turn issue here, now we have these ‘smart’ lights. What I mean is there are sensors to see if any cars in the left turn lane. If there are none, then no left hand turn green is given. This is maddening when you’re driving at say 10 PM there’s no one else on the road, you see the red lights up in the distance, and know that if you nicely maintain speed the lights will turn green by the time you arrive. Unfortunately, since you’re not actually in the left hand turn lane at that critical moment, you will be faced with a red light, while only the straight gets the green. So, if you actually want a green left turn arrow you pretty much have to hammer the gas in order to get to a red light, and then enjoy a pulsating foot massage as your ABS kicks so as you don’t screech your way into the intersection. Or you could make the safe, yet illegal left, but, inevitably there will be some poacher there ready to give you the pay’n paper. These days, I’ve pretty much had to give up on attempts to make said left turns, and simply drive straight and try to catch the next one, or, more often than not just turn the left on a side street that I know will take me to where I need to get, and that isn’t controlled.

    Of course… I’m getting foiled in using that previously mentioned plan these days because it seems my township is on a spending binge with putting in these center medians that not only now deny the opportunity of making the left, but, additionally suck up yet another lane in each direction… for the purposes of adding ‘green space’ so I’m told (forgive me if I don’t take my kids to play on said small park sized median). As a final added benefit, these center medians have a cut out for the left turn lane at the previously mentioned highly controlled intersections that allows for at most 4 cars to queue up. So, cut off from accessing said left turn lane by someone who’s going straight (which is pretty easy to happen considering some of these folks are leaving a whole vehicle length of space in front of them), you pretty much get to watch as the single vehicle that was able to access the lane has a full 20 seconds to make said left turn, while you and the others that wanted to go get to sit and wait for the straight moving traffic to get their light… just so you can get access to said left turn lane on the next cycle, which, will be about 2 minutes later…

    Shall end the rant with only covering the left turn (and disappearing opportunities to ‘legally’ do so.) Could write an equally long rant on the disappearing ‘legal’ right turn on red (and clover denying me opportunities to do so when it is allowed).

    • Another part of the problem is that traffic engineers and other government stooges are idiots. One quick example is that there should NEVER be a moment’s doubt for any driver (even a clover) on an interstate highway when it comes to signage. Yet just the other day in New York state (where everyone’s doing at least 70 mph), a mile away from my exit there was a nice, large sign informing me of that– but right at the exit there was a tiny sign with different town names and without the route numbers! Therefore, panic: “Is it the right exit!? Should I take it? Did I miss it?” TRAFFIC ENGINEERS ARE CRETINS!

      • ASF, that exit was marked……probably a mile and a half earlier. I sometimes miss exits because of no signage but when I drive that route again I find that the signs are telling you of that exit over a mile before but often due to passing big rigs pulling tall trailers you’ll miss them. And like you said, some numbnuts bureaucrat deems it not necessary to list the towns or roads those exits lead to near the exit itself. Now if there had been a McDonalds or DQ or some other fast food there’d be plenty signage cause nobody wants to miss that.

        I have noticed going by the Texas 70 exit on the edge of Sweetwater, Tx. that you come over a hill and around a curve and nearly have a wreck cause the traffic is backed up into the interstate. I can go on by those types of things since there’s another exit half a mile on with two way access roads but clover stands on the brakes in front of a huge amount of traffic, most of it big rigs.

        Probably not much of that traffic is headed to 70 but there are a lot of good restaurants there and lots of convenience stores and just about every fast food chain you can name also. I occasionally see wrecks there too.

  14. This….x10000.

    “By law, you are supposed to not exceed the posted speed limit – ever. Even when passing. How much more time – and space – do you need to pass an old lady doing 47 when you’re limited to going no more than 7 MPH faster than the old lady’s driving?

    Hence, people have given up trying to pass.

    They risk their safety – if they attempt to pass lawfully. Or they risk the law if they attempt to pass safely.”
    America’s laws are corrupt. I am one of those assholes that does the speed limit and pass doing the speed limit. I am not going to risk, fine, jail, and insurance premiums. However I avoid being a left lane dick unless I’m passing.

    On the other hand, I treat traffic lights as drag strip . accelerating to speed limit as fast as possible.

    • That’s how I drive surface streets. Accelerate briskly but do the PSL.

      I used to go fast on the interstates only but now with the state cops doing 90, 100mph or more and then identifying a victim there isn’t much of a defense available. So f’ it. I drive the PSL to 5 under slogging along in the right lane getting all sorts of grief. I am thinking of a sign for the rear window:

      “Too Slow for you? Write your representative.”

      • “Too Slow for you? Write your representative.”

        Thought the same thing. 🙂

        I wish I could drive properly, but that’s illegal.

  15. EP: Kindly name the states other than VA where 20 over = reckless driving by statute.

    I want to know so I can avoid those states where possible.

    Otherwise, excellent article. I know from first-hand experience that clover behavior does NOT go over well on the Autobahnen.

    • In Arizona, it is not considered reckless driving to do 20 over, however, it is a misdemeanor and you will have your car impounded & be forced to appear in court. However, this law is rarely enforced. Routinely, people drive 75 to 80 MPH on the 10 where the PSL is 55. Fact is, if you do 55 on the freeway when traffic is light, y’all gonna get runned over.
      Most times if you get popped for 20 over, the citing officer will put 18 or 19 MPH over on the ticket. This happened to me once when I was caught doing close to 100mph in the desert outside Kingman on a totally deserted, divided highway, whose speed limit was the insanely low 65. He cited me for 75…. Bullshit, I know, but considering he could have caused a lot more problems for me, merciful.
      Oh, and by the way, AZ has some really tough DUI laws. so don’t even have a sip of Kool-Aid before you drive in this state.

  16. 2 stories: I was crossing a 45mph road at an intersection on my bicycle which was all clear aside from one car coming. That car at speed would be well past me by the time I crossed into that lane and neither I nor the driver would not even have to stop or slow. So when I got to the middle of the intersection- the woman in her 20s slams on the brakes from about 50mph and stops..and then wouldn’t go till I crossed! There was a whole lane between me and her. So I crossed because I was sick of waiting for HER, and then she had trouble getting the automatic in gear- which means she put it in park in a 45mph road!
    Story 2: I drive an old army truck which tops out around 55ish. I am always in the right lane unless traffic is slower than my top speed, then I am well capable of dodging and lane changing to get ahead. When I encounter a right lane person SLOWER than I, it really steams me, especially since I know their car is faster, and also since I can only pass up to about 55mph. This is a real problem if the slow person is doing 52 or 53, hell, even 48. I have to sit there and wait until the road is empty because passing is a very long operation. The good part is once I pass them, they get to sniff my diesel from then on- and I make sure I roll a little extra coal once I get up front!

  17. Many American drivers are afraid of multiple lane and interstates because putzing along congested metropolitan streets with constant traffic control is their brain numbing norm. Looking ahead is limited by the throng of cars ahead, looking behind is limited by the closest car behind. The open highway is a totally foreign concept.

    • Oh yeah, power steering and the automatic transmission makes driving way too easy. Forcing people to “operate the machine” instead of eating and playing and socializing would eliminate a sizable percentage of the current crop of drivers.

      • I figure the accident rate would soar. Steering with your knees is a lot tougher, and a slower rate without power steering, makes texting and keeping a car sorta straight much harder and those texters will give up anything but their cellphones.

        A few months back another driver was waiting for me as we were headed for the same place to unload and I got a slow start because of transmission problems. When I got there he was standing beside his wrecked truck and was still shaking from making a dive under the trailer as another big rig bred driver side to driver side with his while he was tarping. The woman in the other rig was looking at her new cell phone. She was sitting in her truck, afraid to get out till I got there. The other driver was REAL MAD.

      • Hey, now there is a punishment idea…. If someone gets popped for texting & driving, don’t fine them. Instead, restrict their license so they are only allowed to drive a car with a manual transmission.

        (You know I am being tongue in cheek. I’m not in favor of any of these “no texting” laws, or the vast majority of other traffic laws taking up space on these useless law books. I am, however, in favor of one punishment that I came up with myself. if someone causes a wreck, the cop puts a sign around his neck that says “I caused it.” and makes him stand on the shoulder facing oncoming traffic until the wreck is cleared. Then, anyone who is stuck in the traffic jam gets to pull over on the shoulder, walk up to the idiot, and slap him. I figure one or two hundred good slaps by random strangers would go a long way to fixing some of these behaviors.)

        • Slapping a corpse doesn’t seem productive. A few years ago I was driving on a city bypass that’s level and straight and came on a black Tahoe upside down on the shoulder. No debris or anything. It looked like a fork truck had picked it up and flipped it over and left it. No other vehicles at the scene and traffic going by fast so I did too since I didn’t have time to see much of anything. Later I find out there’s a 19 year old girl dead in it. Nobody seemed to know how she’d flipped it nor why. I’m guessing texting and jerked the wheel to the left when she felt the shoulder.

          One thing I will admit that’s been done to roadways in Tx. that makes sense is a rub strip that is loud as hell right along the white stripe for the outside lane/shoulder. The only thing I don’t like only affects a few vehicles and that’s when you have aggressive on road/off road tires on a big pickup it causes them to grab it and pull that way…..but it wakes you up.

    • C C, you say ” Looking ahead is limited by the throng of cars ahead, looking behind is limited by the closest car behind. The open highway is a totally foreign concept.”

      Well, I can’t tell you how many people and a greater percentage are women who say this and maybe they can admit it when men won’t, but they come right out and say they drive a big 4WD SUV or Pickup so they can see beyond the car in front of them(never heard one mention being concerned what was behind).

      That’s all well and good and if they can afford that vehicle good for them but in Tx. that big 4WD pickup just lets you see that other 4WD pickup in front of you.

      Hell, I’d drive a Bimmer If I could afford one. I know what that far right pedal is for and use it all the way to the floor.

      • They lie. When entering a major road they can see clear over my car but they still pull out to look around my car and then block my view.

        • Oh, I don’t think they lie. They’re just tired of looking ahead and seeing only endgates. And the problem in Tx. is a huge amount of clovers drive those tall rigs. In fact the worst drivers out there commonly drive a pickup since very few drive a car. I could write a book on stupid moves and so many are done by people in their 40’s and 50’s who evidently never learned to drive.

        • Even when they can see beyond the nearest vehicle, they don’t because traffic resembles a Wal-Mart parking lot on Black Friday, all day every day. That’s why when traffic actually moves at speed, the next area of congestion has several narrow misses and a rear ender – few look beyond the car ahead.

  18. I was unintentionally Cloverific the other day. I pulled away from a stop sign at a T intersection onto a state highway – in front of someone who was approaching much faster than I had estimated. But when I tried to let him past by pulling onto the right shoulder earlier than the striping for the Interstate on-ramp legally allowed, he was already over there. So I’m not sure which of us was the worse driver.

  19. The Germans are very very good drivers. When I’ve been there, it’s obvious that I’m the low-skill one on the road, and not because it takes me a little longer to figure out what “Einbahnstrasse” means.

    Part of what makes their road system so effective is that that they’re all on the same page. The standards for driver skill are taught nation-wide, rather than varying state-by-state (otherwise Bavaria would have even more of a reputation for being slackers).

    What I’d like to see is 3-tier licensing here in the US. 1st tier being student drivers. 2nd tier would be mainstream drivers, corresponding to the current standards. I would add a 3rd tier for the people who take additional driving instruction. They’d get insurance discounts, leniency in things like two-lane-road passing where they exceed the limit to complete the pass. But would also lose that tier for a while it they are in any at-fault accident. And lose it at age 65.

    • Hi Chip,

      I’d rather we have a “no harm, no foul” standard – but I’d prefer yours over what we have. With one exception. I see no reason to automatically assume that everyone becomes a substandard driver at age 65.

      Some people are vastly better drivers at 75 than most people are at 25 (e.g., Bob Bondurant).

      In any case, I oppose on principle group guilting anyone.

      • Yep, it’s a tough thing. When I hit 65 I just automatically slammed the door on my thumb to get in the proper frame of mind. After the emergency crew got me up into that T800 KW(of course I thanked them……or did I? who can say)being a nice morning I rolled down the windows, screwed my cap down tight, adjusted my sunshades, flipped my arm rests down and realized I didn’t know where I was. There were big mirror looking things outside each window I could sorta see something in, something big. Somebody hollered at me “well, are you gonna crank it up?”. Oh yeah, so I turned the key and nothing happened. Hey, there’s a button so willy-nilly wise I pushed it. Wow, a huge diesel roared into life. Now things were starting to click a bit for me. 16 hours and 700 miles later after I’d loaded my trailer twice and unloaded twice it started coming back to me. Now if I could just remember the code for that new front end loader…….

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