Slow’s the Word

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What is the common denominator that accounts for almost all bad driving? It is arguably the passivity-fearfulness that’s been drilled into so many American drivers – who were taught that “good driving” is slow driving, in the manner of an arthritic old person shuffling down the sidewalk, Joe Biden-style, with a dozen people behind him, trying to get past.  

Many examples abound. Here are a few: 

The Stop before the Turn – 

You are driving behind another car. Its driver signals a right turn. But instead of turning off the road, its driver stops – almost completely, sometimes – before exiting the travel lane, forcing you to stop, almost, too.

Sometimes, it’s a full stop. Right there in the middle of the road.

The driver ahead having been taught that deceleration good – lateral acceleration (and acceleration, generally) bad. This type of driving may have been taught by an instructor who placed an open-topped cup of coffee on the dash and told the student that he’d better not spill it; that avoiding spilling while driving is the sure sign of a “good” driver. 

The Pull out in Front of You, followed by the Slow Meander – 

You are driving along on an open road. Up ahead of you, another driver is waiting to turn onto the road. He waits until you’re almost on top of him before pulling out, right in front of you. Forcing you to slow down. He is apparently in a hurry. Until he has pulled out, in front of you. Then he’s got all the time in the world.

And now, so do you.

This sort of bad driving may simply be a function of not-so-good spatial relationship sense; of being unable to accurately judge and time distances, including closing distances. The pull-out/slow-down driver may not realize he pulled out right in front of you and was taught (per above) that acceleration bad – and “speeding” worse. So, from his point-of-view, you should have slowed down – and not expect him to accelerate.

The Brake Tapper and Rider – 

You find yourself behind another car with no other cars ahead of it. There is no obvious reason for the driver ahead of you to brake, as there’s nothing ahead to warrant it – but he does so regularly and randomly, forcing you to do the same. It’s as if he’s looking for something – like an address, perhaps.

But he never looks in the rearview mirror.

The Stop and Signal Merger –

Merge ramps might as well be stop ramps, because that’s what many drivers do. Rather than use the ramp to increase their speed to match the speed of the traffic they’re wanting to merge with and then merge with it, these drivers will stop – and signal – and wait. This inevitably creates a line – of other cars, whose drivers are prevented from using the merge ramp to build up speed so as to merge with the flow of traffic. Instead, everything comes to a stop – until someone waves the stopped car ahead of them into the flow, which must now slow.

He gets to merge, at last.

But now you get to wait – until someone else waves you in.

Green means Wait – 

Red means stop and yellow means caution. Green used to mean go – but now it means wait a few before you do. It takes some drivers a little time to become aware that the light has turned green – and then another little bit for the signal to make its way from the brain to the muscles that control the right foot, which eventually – and oh-so-gently – applies a little downward pressure to the accelerator.

This lack of awareness – and of reaction – has gotten so bad that some new cars prompt the person behind the wheel (we won’t abuse language and call him a driver) to get going.

The Passer-Preventer – 

This isn’t the one who drives at or below the speed limit and then increases his speed to whatever it takes to prevent you from passing him – though he might just be the same guy, differently positioned. The Passer-Preventer is the driver behind the car doing just barely the speed limit and often less, who doesn’t attempt to pass, himself and prevents you from doing so by keeping an eight-of-a-mile separation between his car and the car ahead of him, slowing everything down.

Unless you live in wide-open spaces and there is plenty of time – and room – it is often not feasible to pass both cars. But you could, if the car ahead would close the gap enough to reduce the time necessary to pass them.

It is almost as if these two types are in cahoots, deliberately working together to assure that None Shall Pass.

The ironic-tragic thing is that all of the above somnolences might be justifiable if it were 1982 rather than 2022. If cars today took forever to get going – and to stop – not as a function of whoever is behind the wheel, but as a mechanical fact of life. Instead, we have the slow-motion clown-show of cars more mechanically capable than cars have ever been, driven – if that’s the right word – by people either incapable of using them or just afraid to.

They might as well be driving ’80s-era Aries K-cars given that’s how they drive today’s cars.

. . .

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36 COMMENTS

  1. How about this one? The car in front of you signaling for the car in front of them. This is one of my pet peeves. It seems to happen more in rural areas. Don’t signal a turn if you aren’t going to turn. I can see your brake lights and that’s enough. Most of the time I can see the turn signal of the car in front of you. I don’t know how this practice got started. And what about the car that might decide to pull out because they think two cars are turning instead of one?
    Also, if there is a handicap tag on a car expect bad driving. Still trying to figure out why that is.

  2. I thought yellow meant “Floor it!” 🙂

    I will admit to being green light hesitater, especially at certain intersections. I’ve seen way too many morons who were either stretching the light or just running the red. I’m not planning on getting t-boned. I’m getting some miles on me, and I don’t have impact-resistant anything on me anymore.

  3. Few if any of the drivers you complain about going too slow are doing it to deliberately obstruct you. They may be lost, confused, or struggling with mechanical issues. Their driving may not meet your standards of daring and skill, but their commitment to personal freedom may be as great as yours — they just don’t think of that primarily in terms of going real fast. I know I’m not any sort of race car driver material.

    • They are unpredictable in their zombie-like state. “They may be lost, confused, or struggling with mechanical issues.” That driver should pull over and get things right then, not wallow around the streets in a confused state.

    • ‘Few if any of the drivers you complain about going too slow are doing it to deliberately obstruct you.’ — David Hawley

      The typical slow-ass (my terminology for them, as an acne-faced teenager in muh 400 cubic inch, 4-on-the-floor GTO) on a Texas farm-to-market road was a grizzeled rancher in an old pick-up, with a gun rack showing through the cab window and the rear license plate (tied on with coat hanger wire) flapping in the breeze.

      Their grandpappy drove them roads when they were ‘improved’ (graded dirt, maybe even with the luxury of gravel topping by the county), and one carried a winch, a shovel, and railroad ties to dig out of the muddy ruts after a rain.

      Young men in a hurry have no use for any of that. But those totems of yesteryear look pretty good, compared to deranged grayhairs of today like Joe Bidet, ranting that some foreign leader ‘cannot remain in power’ because Joe says so.

      Confiscate his Corvette! 🙂

    • Hi David,

      I don’t have a problem with drivers who drive at a slower – or faster – pace than I. I do have a problem with drivers who can’t drive. This encompasses those who don’t make an effort to not obstruct other drivers; who use their mirrors toward that end. Who pay attention to what’s happening around them.

      It’s a matter of competence – and civility.

  4. OT: on history channel right now (27 March at 10:46 central) is an infomercial for GM’s electric hummer. If ever there was a synopsis of the past two years it is a solo masked moron driving a freaking EV Humvee. Good grief.

  5. Eric,
    I do have to call out one of your comments, or at least in regards to your State (of VA), and it’s on ramps, merging onto highways (people coming to a stop prior to merging on the highway). There is no dedicated merge lane or zone area; it just goes from on ramp to slow lane on the highway. It’s a death trap waiting to happen. It drove me mad when I lived there.

    So, drivers stop, so as not to get taken out, and then are expected to accelerate up to highway speeds, when there’s a break in the action. That would be a feat in your Orange Barchetta, which most old ladies in a K car aren’t driving. That road design needs to be repealed like the face diaper fatwa were.

    Attending college in your State (not too far from your neck of the woods) I got a first hand experience in the the asinine VA road design, or at least in the area described above.

    No matter how proficient a driver is, it would be completely reckless pulling onto the highway without stopping, especially where a clear line of sight of oncoming traffic is obscured. I’d liken it to putting one bullet in a revolver, giving it a spin, and hoping for the best when pulling the trigger, while the barrel’s pressed to ones head.

    I’ll admit, there were occasions I did attempt to merge – flat out (pedal down) and hope for the best, and I’m still here to talk about it. But unlike most other States in the U.S., VA road design (in this area) is something out of a third world nation.

    Perhaps this problem doesn’t exist in Virginia’s D.C. beltway region, but it sure did where I was.

    #MakeMergeLanesGreatAgain

  6. The bad driving has been awful lately! My horn actually broke the other day! I am not joking!

    It’s become rare that I don’t have to use it at least once during a drive.

    Another bad habit I have noticed a lot lately: Can’t stay in the center of ones lane (even on a straight road) Hugging one side of the lane or the other (or sometimes going from side to side randomly like a drunk). Some are so bad they are encroaching a foot or more into the neighboring lane. Had someone almost side swipe me the other night (on an almost empty road to boot). Was yaking on his damn phone, jumped a bit when I honked at him. Tapped my mirror too.

    Thinking of getting a train horn. Probably illegal, but I don’t give a s*** about that anymore.

    • Buddy had giant dual horns under the hood of his 63 Riviera, they really were identical sound to a locomotive horn and nearly as loud.

      Around here you need to be careful honking, great way to get shot even daytime!

  7. I’ve decided my time and safety out in public come first.

    The moron doing 28 in a 35 arterial your getting passed by me via the center turn lane, I’ve had it.

    Traffic lights when I’m in the sketchy town next valley south? A suggestion to stay stopped only, if it’s clear I’m going red light be damned. Too many crazy homeless, and carjacking in state of WA is out of control. I’m not waiting around to be the next victim.

    The only excuse for a slight delay when the light turns green – we have more and more red light runners and not just at the light change sometimes it’s multiple seconds after.

    • >red light runners and not just at the light change sometimes it’s multiple seconds after.

      I call those “class C-S” license holders.
      According to CA classification, class “C” means passenger cars & some light trucks.
      The “C” designation means “special,” i.e. exempt from obeying traffic laws, including all traffic signals.

      FWIW, CA DMV has never offered me an “upgrade.” I guess you have to know someone.
      Also FWIW, I would be in favor of C-S license holders being required to have “special” license plates, so we peons could see them coming….

  8. “This type of driving may have been taught by an instructor who placed an open-topped cup of coffee on the dash and told the student that he’d better not spill it; that avoiding spilling while driving is the sure sign of a “good” driver.”

    A long time ago (it was the mid-1980s), I was learning to drive a bus with a manual shift in Berlin, Germany, where I was stationed. Since I was new to driving a manual, I did the expected herky-jerky thing when starting out or sometimes when shifting gears. My instructor threatened to put a full cup of water on the dash and fail me if I spilled it. So yeah, it can be an effective teaching tool in *some* circumstances.

    “Green used to mean go – but now it means wait a few before you do.”

    Sometimes a traffic incident sticks in your mind and you can’t get rid of it, even years later. Back about 20 years ago, I lived in Denver, Colorado. Unfortunately for that town, a huge influx of Kalifornians have descended on the Centennial State and it shows in their driving. I was behind someone at a red light there once, and it turned green, including the left turn signal that we were waiting for. The guy in front of me hesitated, and before I could lay on the horn, I saw why he hesitated – an asshole coming the other way ran the red light that he had, and flipped us off while passing by. Yes, once in a great while, there really is a reason to hesitate, but those are rare occasions. Most of the time it’s likely that the guy/gal in front of you has their nose buried in their sail fawn.

    • It is not rare in the town I live in. People blowing red lights have caused many to hesitate on moving when light turns green. I do as well, looking ALL ways first. Getting T-Boned at 45mph is not my idea of a good time.

      Maybe I’ve turned into some type of Hybrid Clover as I do enjoy driving on country roads slower than speed limit and looking. I think my saving grace is that if someone comes behind me to interrupt the solitude I’ll get/pull over to let them pass.

      • Had to hesitate at one a few weeks ago coming out of church. Guy ran right thru from the left, I then go after that “driver” passes and my friends behind me get t boned by a red light runner coming from the right. Got showered with bits of plastic, glass and metal. That “driver” was on her phone of course, and never braked (no insurance of course either). Sent my friends into a oncoming truck (thankfully waiting to make a turn and not moving). Guessing my friends and the truck driver will never see one cent from that girl.

    • Well I can think of an intersection in my commute where people race the yellow so much, that when the arrow turns green there is often oncoming traffic still in the intersection.

      Which is another problem yet.

      You have to deal with the way other people actually drive, which is not the way they are supposed to drive.

      Yet another example of the widening disconnect between the people and the powerful.

  9. It should really be illegal to manufacture an automobile like a Toyota Supra. Just too good of an auto to be able to own and drive. Nobody should be able to own one, halt all production immediately.

    Nothing to own will make you happy, meal worms and bugs will be plenty of nutrition. Sack cloth and ashes will have to do.

    Saw a driver drive pass at 65 mph on an icy I-25 north of Fort Collins. The driver over-corrected due to the ice and unsafe road conditions. The car then veers to the left, begins to go sideways in the middle of the interstate, had to slow almost to a stop, the car was perpendicular to the lane at 270, she laughed, just lucky she didn’t ditch the car. Continued to drive down the road, didn’t get hurt or anything.

    A mistake where divine intervention ruled.

    Have seen other accident scenes where the driver wasn’t as lucky.

  10. Slightly off-topic: I just saw a commercial (PSA?) on TeeVee wherein a woman complains that female crash test dummies are always put on the passenger side.

    FEMALE crash test dummies. So, apparently, crash test dummies can be defined as “female”, although they aren’t alive and have no sexual organs or chromosomes whatsoever. I find it interesting. I imagine that “female” crash test dummies might have different specifications, i.e. being shorter and more frail (resistant?) than their “male” counterparts. Again interesting…

    The ad went on with some sort of women’s lib message regarding this needing changed because women drive, too.

    Also, an Aries-K got 41 mpg highway?! Is that what that says?

    • It would be hilarious if in their outrage, the women’s lib got it changed so that all crash test drivers were female.

      • Ha! Yeah, Norman. Also, soon it may also be a problem that they all look too Caucasian. It’s just getting ridiculous out there.

    • So what the F*** is their solution?! Put the ‘female’ dummies in the driver seat? No. No.. Because then they’d be labeled the gender that can’t drive well. Okay, also can’t call the ‘female’ ones dummies.

      Solution: Label all crash test dummies male. White male. And have all the ‘female smarties’ standing around outside the crash site with black (sorry Black) smarties, in various uniforms, from scientists to doctors to police. And give all the white male ones beer bellies and open slack-jawed mouths.

  11. Here’s another one – the guy who stops three car lengths before a sensorized stop light, thus not crossing and triggering the magnetic loop. I once had to get out of my car and explain to the idiot that the light was never going to turn until he pulled up further; dipshit would probably still be sitting there looking at his phone oblivious to the world around him.

  12. Drivers who stop 20 feet from the stop line at intersections drive me up a wall. I live in a dense area, and almost all lights have inductive sensor loops in the pavement, just behind the stop line. It’s common that on a giant road, all lanes will have some bozo stopped so far behind the line, that none of them trigger the light sensor, and the damn thing never changes. They just sit there, waiting, like cows at a passing train.

  13. Seems we all are experiencing similar problems with the deficient class. Hadn’t thought about any upside to the plandemic simulation until now. The first six months, when the majority were cowering in fear, I remember driving around empty roads, thinking every single day was like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

    • It was amazing. I could actually get to work in twenty minutes instead of the usual forty-five. Yup the morons DOUBLE my commute time.

  14. Over the past few years I have had to use my horn more than all my other decades combined, trapped behind someone looking at their cell phone instead of at the stop light. I’m all in favor of a mandatory device that turns off cell phones before a vehicle can move.

  15. I loathe drivers who insist on braking to a near stop in front of you on a 45 mph to 55 mph 4- or 6-lane highway DESPITE HAVING A DECELERATION LANE.

    I find the worst drivers on the road are piloting Honda CR-Vs. They believe turn signals are optional, suddenly stop in the middle lane to get over a lane to make a turn and make other absurd and dangerously unpredictable moves.

    • Amen, Dr. Mantis –

      This problem seems to be waxing, too. Perhaps because of the Jabbing? I can’t say. But I can say these half-awake, hyper-cautionary “drivers” seem to be cropping up everywhere. Even here, in The Woods – where I thought (had hoped) I’d be free of them, at last.

      And yet, they come. Like roaches in a single-wide.

  16. Or, it could just be a population explosion of really crappy drivers who are driving within their extremely low limits. Which they actually should.
    My favorite is the one that thinks it’s OK to pull out in front of you, because they are only going a few hundred yards down the road before they turn off.

  17. More slow objects to be aware of: chain smoking drvers, elderly men driving small rear drive pickups, texters, rubber neckers (looking everywhere but the road in front). when you have to get to point A to point B in a timely manner , you will get behind one of these abominations.

  18. You got it right on all accounts. I am victim to some of these more than others – like the pull out & the anti-passer.

    The pull outs have gotten less frequent since I put a big metal Rough Country bumper on the truck.

    One more I had experience with last night on the highway during rush hour-
    The hurry up and close the gap to the car in front.
    Resulted in a 3 car fender bender behind me.

    Oh the sound of crunching plastic. I though someone may have run over a water bottle.

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