The Spoonful of Poo . . .

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Here’s video of what makes a Clover a Clover. It is not timid or slow or even bad driving, per se.

It is gratuitous, intentional inconsideration for other drivers.

Observe this Clover . . .

I (and 4-5 others) were caught behind this one for about 10 miles. The Clover was driving so slowly that he had acquired a tail – all those cars stacked up behind him. It was obvious he was holding them up and also obvious he was driving well below the posted speed limit.

The latter thing is no sin.

Some people are very cautious drivers; they fear driving at more than a snail’s pace. Maybe they are impaired in some way – or perhaps their car is. None of those things amounts to a moral failing. I do not fault an old person with bad knees who takes 5 minutes to descend a flight of stairs I can go down in 15 seconds.

I do fault the old person who – noticing someone is waiting behind them – doesn’t ease over and say, “you go ahead.”

The rules are no different on the road – or ought not to be.

If you notice that cars are stacked up behind you – and you are the lead car – it is time to move over and let them pass. This Clover had several opportunities to do so. There are almost always shoulders, driveways – etc.

A good driver – even if he is not a high-skilled driver – does this before he acquires a tail of backed-up cars hanging off his bumper

A good driver scans his mirrors – and his car’s gauges.

Scanning mirrors prevents the acquisition of a tail by yielding before it has time to grow. The good – the considerate – driver sees another car gaining on him in his rearview mirror; he glances at his speedometer and knows he is traveling well below not only the speed limit for the road he’s on but also well below the speed at which most traffic is flowing on the road he’s on – because he is well aware (because we are all well-aware) that most speed limits are set at least 5 and often 10 or more MPH below the prevailing speed of traffic.

The road is not the place to argue the merit of the speed limit – or the speed of other cars. These things are secondary to the most important thing, which is courteous and considerate driving.

Aware driving.

A driver who does not scan his mirrors and so doesn’t notice he’s acquired a tail and who isn’t aware that he is traveling well below the posted speed is not merely oblivious. A person has every right to be oblivious on their own time, when their obliviousness does not impose upon others.

But obliviousness behind the wheel is both hugely inconsiderate as well as dangerous. The Clover who impedes the flow of traffic has created a safety hazard. He has created a stressful driving situation. It is possible, too, that the Clover is keeping someone who has a pressing need to get somewhere ASAP from losing possibly vital minutes; a mother about to give birth, someone injured in an accident and losing lots of blood.

And even if it’s not an emergency, it isn’t for the Clover to waste other people’s irreplaceable time.

Some Clovers are much worse than merely oblivious and dangerous. They are malicious. These are the Clovers who have looked in their mirror and do see the tail of cars growing longer and longer in their wake. These are the Clovers who are quite conscious of the fact that they are driving much more slowly than both the law and custom provide.

These are the Clovers who get a sick kick out of blocking others with their car. Who purposefully use their vehicle in exactly the same way an equally malicious person on foot might just stand in the way of people trying to descend or ascend a flight of stairs, even to the extent of moving so as to prevent anyone from easing by them.

The genesis of this vile behavior is either a poltroonish (such people would never dare  stand on a staircase and try to block people with their bodies; they know they’d get pushed out of the way – or even punched in the face, justifiably so) lust to irritate others without risking consequences or an even more vile desire to impose themselves on others.

The latter sort of Clover considers whatever speed he happens to be driving to be the “safe” (and “right”) speed and he’s going to make sure everyone else drives the same speed.

You can confirm the identity of this type of Clover by his reaction when you finally get the opportunity to pass him. If he speeds up when he sees you making your move – or honks his horn/flashes his lights/shakes his fist at you after you’ve successfully made your move, you know it was that kind of Clover.

But it’s easy to not be either kind of Clover – or a Clover of any kind at all. You don’t have to drive faster than you feel comfortable driving. All you have to do to avoid being a Clover is use your mirrors, be aware of the other cars in your orbit and yield to faster-moving traffic, regardless of the speed limit.

Ideally, before a tail forms on your bumper.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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35 COMMENTS

  1. My observation is that an awful lot of drivers always drive the same speed and never pay attention to any speed limit signs.

    So for instance they drive 67.5 mph in a 75mph zone and 67.5 mph in a 45mph construction zone, or through a 30mph small town, unless the traffic in front slows them down.

  2. George Carlin: Have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac. Lol. This reminded me of that.
    Idiots are the bane of my existence most days. Maniacs I don’t care about unless they endanger me somehow. It’s best to just let them by.

  3. I always glance at my mirrors every once in a while out of (good) habit. The moment I see anyone tailing me, I immediately either speed up or pull over out of harms way. Common sense sure does seem to be a rarity these days.

    • So what if you’re in the left lane PASSING slower traffic and you can’t go any faster because there is traffic right in front of you ????

      Do you slow down 20mph so you can box yourself in between two semis in the right lane…?

      • Hi Anon, I sure don’t! Strangely, a small percentage of 4-wheeler drivers do expect truck drivers to do that! How do I know? There have been a couple of times I have passed a very long line of semi-trucks leaving Kansas City, Mo. I was speeding 5-10 mph for the entire time except for about 3 big hills where my truck slowed down to about 60 mph for about 20 seconds to a minute. I was still passing slower trucks back to back. When I finally got around them, a 4 wheeler driver passed me and presented the bird! I suspect that this attitude stems from the belief in ‘majority rule’, which means that I am supposed to sacrifice my travel time and progress for 4 wheeler drivers who want to speed even faster than me because 4 wheeler drivers are the majority. I could be wrong, but I have not come up with a better theory about this misbehaviour as of yet.

  4. I don’t know if I’d project any emotion on the clover’s part. I think it’s more obliviousness and being self centered. That may be too much benefit of the doubt.

    That said, there’s a compound issue here. The guy directly behind, and maybe the third show no inclination to pass. All it takes is one to show the way.

    I’ve had this happen when I’m in rural areas here in Texas. Luckily, when this happens we’re in my wife’s Maxima, which can easily pass up two cars in a line when you let it holler. Back in the day, (when I’d be tooling around rural Virginia), I’d be ahead of that pack easily on my bike.

    BTW I was just up there this week. You got it bad, but Northern VA is the worst. An F-ing clover field.

  5. Not to be the turd in the pool, but I didn’t see anywhere on that twisty two-lane a decent place to pull over and let traffic pass. Pulling off the road entirely or stopping strikes me as an iffy proposition as either would interfere with traffic, and repeatedly re-entering the road would create all sorts of potential hazards.

    Of course, if the lead twit is dawdling then there’s cause to complain.

    One good thing about where I live: you can see for miles in a straight line. Makes passing a lot easier.

    • Hi Ross,

      There is actually a generous shoulder on that road and the Clover could have eased over on to it and waved the cars behind him by. Plenty of space and time for that. The Clover didn’t need to pull over and stop; just move over a bit, slow down and wave the cars by.

      • eric, just read about how we get to pay for “another” car we could never afford. At 5390 lbs and $117,000 the Fisker EV hybrid is ready for sale….well, sorta, since 239 of them have already been recalled(no reason given). Life is sweet for the “too rich(our money)to fail” crowd.

        But it’s so green I don’t know how they get it to take non-organic paint. The wood trim is salvaged from Lake Michigan with just a wee bit of petroleum burned doing so or from Ca. timber that’s been salvaged.

        With a GM Ecotec 4 used as a generator for the batteries hooked to a 400 HP motor it’s just earth friendly as all get out and even outweighs my Z 71 by several hundred pounds and will travel “up to” 50 miles. I think I’ll call Sean Penn and see if he has one yet. https://www.garynorth.com/public/18593.cfm

  6. These people literally have no concern for others or actively try to make things worse for those around them. I’ve seen these clovers time their driving so they skate through lights on the end of yellow signals or even run the red. Slow is safe but then they run the red to leave those behind them stuck at the light while if they had just driven decently everyone would have made the green. It is so common they must be doing it purposely out of only concern for themselves or malice.

  7. The wife ran across one of these obnoxious Clovers the other day.

    Creeping along and then right up on her ass as soon she passed, brake checks, flailing arms and flipping birds and then threw a soda can at her.

    Just another assenhole.

  8. I don’t want to thread high jack but I just bought a Shelby GT 350 to replace my R8 V10 Manual which just cost me 8K in repairs on a car with 11k miles. The high rev motor being the motivation. limited nanny controls and a wonderful motor/chassis. Nothing feels like a 8300 RPM motor with 526 HP, and when Hennessey is done with it 600 HP.

    • The world of Mustangs is much more suited for the owner. Ford knows the buyers of Mustangs by and large want to modify the cars and are market forced to keep them as owner workable as possible under the law. And even when they don’t the aftermarket steps in. Best of all, no German pricing. Even aftermarket parts made by German companies have to keep the prices reasonable.

  9. Try driving in the “clover Capitol” of Virginia. Page county highway US 340. I’ve worn a lot of enamel off my teeth from the grinding and cursing driving on that road.

    • Hi Allen,

      Virginia does seem to breed uber Clovers; I am not sure what accounts for this. In general, I blame two things:

      First, the mantra that slow is always saaaaaaaaafe and anything not slow isn’t saaaaaaaaaaaaaafe.

      Second, absurd – and vicious – traffic laws; for example, “reckless driving” in VA is defined as driving faster than 20 MPH over the speed limit or driving faster than 80 MPH anywhere (even on the highway, where the speed limit is 70).

      • Virginia drivers are terrifying, EVEN WORSE then Chicago area drivers. I was in your fair state barely 24 hours before I got hit by one (I managed to go 20 years before I got hit in the Chicago area). Thankfully little damage (I was not even moving, stopped at a stop sign). Old man didn’t look and backed right into me, had far more damage on his car at least, ha ha. At least he didn’t give me or the rental car company any problems about his insurance paying out for the damage. Wouldn’t be surprised if the rental car company just sold the car as it was, the mileage was close to when they sell them anyway.

        Barely three hours later run off the road by a wrong way clover.

        Could it be because of the large percentage of government “employed”? You never get the best and brightest. The guy who hit me was a pentagon retiree.

        • Virginia takes the title for stupid. But Chicago has different problems. Like the dufus on Balbo today in a Hummer that was in it sitting there hazards on a couple car lengths west of Michigan ave blocking people from making right hand turns. And then the cabby parked right at the apex of the corner blocking everyone who got past the hummer. I didn’t include the guy in the minivan doing the same thing but in the middle of the block where it wasn’t such a pain. It’s like people make a special effort to get in the way of others and delay them.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOiDwSBctSw

  10. Is this an East of the Mississippi thing ????

    Cause honestly I’ve never really seen what you describe Out West. Slow trucks or trailers, sure – but never anyone purposely blocking the road.

    Now the guy wanting to go 20mph faster than everyone else, I see HIM everywhere!

    • What I HAVE seen is some guy that will tailgate you for miles and then when a straight open stretch comes along and I will slow down and ease over so that he/she can see that the oncoming lane is all clear, that the STUPID TWIT will slow down and pull over behind me instead of PASSING!

      • That’s the same sort of twit that tailgates me when there is another vehicle in front of me. Like what am I supposed to do? Violate the known laws of physics of this universe?

        I’ve pulled to the side to let their dumb selves by but they do exactly you say.
        Occasionally one passes. With luck I avoid treating them the same way they treated me.

      • I think that’s a city clover out in the countryside. They get used to always being in bumper-to-bumper traffic and that’s just normal for them. What they forget is that they usually aren’t traveling at highway speed either.

    • My thoughts exactly. I see almost none of this in Az. Probably because there usually are at least two lanes in each direction. Too hard for a clover to block multiple lanes unless he’s really driving belligerently. And if he does try that here, many drivers will respond with proactive belligerence of a much higher magnitude.

      What we DO have here are wrong way drivers, and red light runners up the ring yang.

      • You have to get close to a big city to find this stuff in Tx. People maybe a-holes but on that FM backroad where the speed limit is 75 and there’s an 18 wheeler coming at you, the instinct to survive is greater than the need to jack with someone I suppose. I see nearly none of this clover/need to control type of behavior. The worst thing I see is people who are unaware.

        One of the worst dangers in rural Texas is people on tractors blocking entire lanes and even more. Tractors and implements are huge these days and the operators(I use this term loosely)just don’t move over. I was almost the person that started that big wreck one day coming over a hill and finding a lot of oncoming traffic…..who had to pull over on the shoulder just to meet these two fools on combines. There was so much traffic backed up and I was doing 75 with a load I ended up going into the barditch beside the line of held up traffic. I was praying nobody would pull over till I got it whoa’d down running right beside them.

        This stuff is bullshit and “illegal” but nobody ever takes these fools to task over it. Up on the plains, esp. where the Mennonite live, it’s a whole nother thing. They see you coming and turn hard to the right and stopping so they’re tractor and implements are completely off the road. It’s not as if plenty people have been killed in cars this way but you NEVER see anyone with a badge do a thing about it.

  11. Dollars to doughnuts this clover would have sped up from 33-38 mph to 75-80 mph had you tried to pass him/her/it in the oncoming traffic lane.

    I can’t tell you the number of times this has happened to me when a rolling clover roadblock occurs across multiple lanes. The left lane clover will invariably accelerate from 62 mph (8 mph UNDER posted speed limit) to 90 mph+ (20+ mph OVER PSL) to keep anyone from getting past them. Then they will slow back down if they successfully make the block.

    BTW – doing this clover block maneuver on a 2 lane, which I’ve seen done, should rightly be considered attempted murder.

    I admire your ability to remain calm. I would not have been able to speak as calmly as you in that instance.

    I can’t go 5 miles in the burbs – at any time day or night – without encountering at least one clover to ruin my trip.

    Privatize all roads.

    +

    Have different classes of licenses to keep clovers out of the “high speed” roads.

    +

    Enforce – rigidly – minimum speed differentials between lanes.

    =

    Heaven

    • I had a variation of that one the other day. I move to left lane near the on ramp on an interstate in a rural area to let someone on, which is generally a courteous thing to do normally when your not going to be blocking up the left lane (no one was in the left lane). I could tell it was a clover by the way he was pooping along on the ramp. Those types also have the bad habit of coming right into your lane even if you’re in it, so basically you have to move to the left lane because he is going to cutting you off no matter.

      So I am passing him in the left lane as he creeps on the interstate, maybe doing 40ish (speed limit is 70, with most doing 75ish). So maybe 15 seconds later, i look in the mirror to see if he is far enough back so I could go back into the right lane. I see nothing in the mirror, and i glance over my shoulder (I always do it before changing lanes). The bastard was in my blind spot! He must have finally stomped on the gas pedal to catch up with me. WTF

      So I go faster to get ahead of him. Only he paces me……..ugh…. one of my pet peeves (a pacer clover: someone that matches your speed because they can’t seem to figure out how fast to go themselves). So I go faster, nope, matches me, I go slower, nope, matches me. So I had to stay in the left lane because he wasn’t going to let me pull up in front of him. I didn’t want to be behind him either…….I don’t want to crash into him.

      Since no one was behind me in the left lane, I just stayed there. He stayed in my blind spot until he got off at the next exit 10 miles down the road (so it was someone that probably shouldn’t have bothered to even get on the interstate to begin with (a tollway to boot too). A zombie clover, probably a brain dead commuter who does that to someone every day.

      • ducklings. Sometimes when nobody else is around I brake suddenly and sharply. they fly past. Then they are confused.

        Another thing these merge impaired people do is they go directly to the left lane cutting off whomever.

    • On the interstate I’ve been able to get the left lane blocking clovers up into the triple digits to block my passing. I even got pulled over by a cop because of one of those when I went to get around him. I had tried several times prior but backed off because of traffic or fear of cops. The last time I didn’t. I got by him. He exited. Cop seeing it from way back pulled me over a couple miles later even though I had slowed down to normal speed. No ticket though.

  12. Was stuck behind a left lane hog on I65 in Indiana a few years back with my brother. The clover had 64 cars and 12 semi’s stacked up behind him. My brother was driving so I could count the cars when we were on a gentle curve, we were likely a mile and a half behind him. The traffic volume was high enough that very few could get past him on the right. Stuck for a good twenty five miles.

    To their credit, the Indiana State police is finally enforcing the left lane passing law.

  13. I’m with you, Eric. When driving my 48HP VW diesel Vanagon Camper, I pull over A LOT. Peeps seem to be very appreciative of the courtesy….usually a friendly Honk and a Wave as they go by. Not so common courtesy, I guess.

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