Insouciant Driving

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There is bad driving. But insouciant driving is worse.

What’s the difference?

Bad driving encompasses many things and opinions vary about them. Some people regard driving fast – or at any rate, faster than they drive – as being an example of bad driving. Others look upon people who drive slower than they do as bad drivers. Most everyone agrees that people who crash into things more often than once in awhile are probably not good drivers.

Much less commonly discussed is the phenomenon of the insouciant driver.

It is an extremely common phenomenon, too. One encounters this type of bad driver almost every time one goes for a drive.

Insouciant driving is simply just that. An indifference, while behind the wheel, to others who are also behind the wheel. It encompasses almost every form of what is generally taken to be “bad” driving.

For example, it is not necessarily bad driving to drive faster – or slower – than other drivers. It is, however, insouciantly bad driving to not adjust one’s slower or faster driving such that it does not cause problems for other drivers. Thus, for instance, it is not ipso facto bad driving to drive more slowly than other drivers; even to drive well below the speed limit. You may not be in a hurry and enjoying the drive. You may be trying to find a street you’re not familiar with. You may simply not be comfortable driving any faster.

There is nothing necessarily “bad” about any of that.

All of that, however, becomes bad when combined with insouciance.

Driving slowly – indifferent to the fact that you are slowing down others. Not being willing to exert the effort to look in the rearview mirror or – worse – to be aware that you are causing a bottleneck but unwilling to move over to the right, in order to relieve it.

The most insouciant form of such driving occurs in the left lane of a two-lane-in-each-direction road, when the a driver in the left lane stays in the left lane – no matter how slowly he is going.

Perhaps the road is initially a single-lane road that opens into a two-lane road. The non-insouciant thing to do, when the road opens up, is to automatically move over into the right lane so as to free up the passing lane. Insouciant drivers are indifferent to the concept of “passing.” Instead, they continue cruising along, often at a speed below that of the cars behind them. The drivers of these cars are then obliged to use the right lane to pass the insouciant driver in the left lane, who continues cruising along even when he can see that his insouciance is causing problems for other drivers that could be easily relieved – if only he’d move over to the right lane.

The worst form of this insouciance manifests when the insouciant driver in the left lane paces the car to his right, effectively preventing passing altogether.

The road ahead is clear, but all the cars are stuck back there – because the driver of one of them won’t look in his mirror and take notice of the other drivers behind him who are trying to get by him. Or – worse – he does see them but actively thwarts their getting past by using his car to prevent them from doing so.

Faster drivers can also be insouciant, too.

As when they take no notice of changing conditions and adjust their speed, accordingly. As when they allow their speed to pressure other drivers, by bearing down on them. As when they are not in control of their speed, being preoccupied with things besides driving. Such drivers sometimes blast right through red lights and into other cars. It is not the speed, however, that is to blame.

It is the insouciance.

All of which can be ameliorated – if this is desired – by paying attention and by exercising courtesy toward other drivers. By using eyes – and mirrors – to keep track of what’s going on behind as well as ahead of you. By maintaining awareness of your vehicle and its speed – whether faster or slower – and the speed of traffic in relation to it. And by acting in such a way as to not be an impediment to other drivers or a source of stress. Move at your own pace, certainly. But don’t use your car to oblige others to drive at your pace.

Assuming, of course, you’d prefer not to be known as insouciant behind the wheel.

. . .

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  1. Eric, I’m going to have to disagree with you about the left lane of any four-laner (two in each direction) being the “passing lane”. This may apply on Freeways where left turns are not permitted, but that is not where you were driving. Suburban 4-laners still have lots of destinations which require left turns, and people need to be in the left lane well before they get there. Or would you prefer the “Russian” left turns from the right lane at the last second, like you see in nearly every example of Russian dashcam driving? I definitely agree with your frustration regarding the slowpokes on two-laners (one lane in each direction). On a four-laner, you have options, so use them and don’t concern yourself with other people’s agendas. I dare say you would want someone up you ass when you are slowing to make a left turn off these roads, or even just trying to find the correct street, or even read the barely visible street signs. I have to deal with the very same people as you do, and I agree that people around here are generally mindless in their driving environment. You aren’t going to change their ways, just do your best to avoid them & go on.

  2. Gettin’ about time to start planting potatoes. However, it is going to snow, so the planting will be delayed a good two weeks or maybe three. Will plant some garlic, though. It’s time, see what happens.

    Who is worried about driving anywhere with gas/diesel at 4 dollars and more per gallon?

    The gas thieves who are thieves can drive, nobody else. No worries, gas is free along with everything not bolted down. har

    Their insouciance is mainstream, dominates, they don’t care who gets hosed. Doesn’t matter.

    Demand destruction is here already. High prices for fuels bends everyone severely.

    Fuel prices to the moon create insouciance, in the long haul, imo.

    Time for a road trip, nobody will be on the road.

  3. I love Clover videos. More please!

    When I learned to drive 45 years ago in the UK the mantra was

    mirror, signal, manoeuvre

    and don’t manoeuvre if it causes other road users to alter progress


    I don’t think they teach it any more

  4. “Courteous” drivers who cruise along doing 80 in the passing lane, see that I’m approaching a truck doing 70 and, instead of just continuing to do 80, slow down and let me pass the truck. Or will they? Maybe they’re just slowing down because they think there’s a speed trap ahead, or they looked at their speedometer and saw how fast they were going, or whatever. Either way I’m now a mind reader. So now I’m stuck behind the truck, they just sit on my rear quarter panel and no one is passing the truck. Maybe they’ll keep that up for a mile. And now the guy behind them is getting pissed off too.

    Just drive your vehicle, at your speed! You’re not helping!

  5. My daily hatefest is when I am getting on the interstate to go home from work and people ahead of me think its a decent idea to get on the interstate going 50 mph. This happens almost daily. Maybe I was taught wrong, but I always believed that when you are the driver who wants to get on the interstate, it’s your responsibility to merge with the traffic, not expect them to adjust their speed or move to accommodate you. People on that interstate are going at least 70 mph. You need to be going close to that at the end of the acceleration ramp. Semis often move over for slowpoke entrants, so I can see why people think it’s OK to enter at such a low speed. But the trucks can’t always get over and I kind of wish they would not, since that enables this behavior.
    I nearly got in a wreck due to this. The woman ahead of me was going 50. I was behind her and trying to divide my attention between the semi bearing down on us and her moseying along the ramp. I saw a nice hole, got in front of the semi and matched his speed. But the moron in the white SUV was still in the acceleration lane going 50, running out of room and slowly easing over into my space. I had no choice but to brake and let her in. The truck driver behind me did not want to brake. I looked in my mirror and saw my doom: nothing but truck grille mere feet from my car. And objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, so they say.
    Anyway, a hole opened up in the left lane and I dodged over there. Dingbat in the white SUV signals and starts to swerve over again but this time, I decided not let her in front me. I punched it, got beside her and gave her a dirty look and waved at her “stay over there.”
    How else will they learn?
    But I just don’t understand why people don’t get up to speed on that nice long banked ramp specifically designed for that very purpose. They just act like they have every right to enter 70 mph traffic going 50 and everyone on the road will bust their asses to let them in.

    • Not to mention that brakes are a far more effective means of changing delta-v than the throttle. So one should approach a merge a bit FASTER than traffic is moving. Much easier to slow down and merge than speed up to do so.

  6. Drivers too lazy or acting stupid to turn lights on when its dark so others can see their asphalt grey car and failure to use turn signals at a crowded 4-way stop sign intersection.

    I think that those two things are a absolute danger to other drivers.

    • On the flip side, drivers whose headlights are so bright they blind oncoming traffic. Or who forget to dim their brights.

  7. I hate it when people won’t LET me get back into the right lane, and they pass me on the right. Example — I’m in the right lane, on the highway, on a collision course with cars entering the highway on an on-ramp, so I get in the left lane and speed up, because I have to, then the second I have a chance to get back in the right lane, someone comes up on my tail in the left lane and tries to pass me on the right. I literally don’t even have enough time to turn on my right-signal, and they’re already trying to pass me on the right. Then sometimes there are others behind them, they see that, and they try to do the same thing. If they’d just wait literally 3 seconds, I would get back into the right lane, plus they shouldn’t pass on the right anyways, unless it’s a situation like Eric’s article described.

    • This^^^^^

      The only thing more annoying (and I suspect it is the same type of driver) is the when you are entering from an on-ramp and that entitled person behind you jumps the gore and gets in the clear position you were supposed to occupy so they could jump to the left lane before you could assume your rightful spot in the right lane.

  8. Rules for the road:
    1) ALWAYS drive as FAST as you possibly can! (not forgetting possibly includes safely)
    1a) …but always be the SECOND fastest guy on the road!
    2) NEVER give up an opportunity to pass!
    3) IN FRONT of the school bus is always a good call! …and its corollary:
    4) BEHIND the cop is always a good call!
    5) Use the WHOLE road!

    And one truism: Nobody ever complained about TOO MANY lanes in the road!

  9. Eric,

    How do you know they weren’t going to turn left? After passing the left turn lane early in, there was a cutout about 45 seconds in. Isn’t it possible one or both drivers in the left lane were going to turn there? I’m just sayin’.

    Also, as they used to teach in church, leave early enough to be early-even if you have trouble. Yes, we all have places to go, but it’s up to me to be on time.

    I’m not defending bad driving practices, but the bad drivers are out there; they’re as much an impediment going places as traffic itself, so the only thing we can do is account for it and leave a bit earlier.

    • Yup. If I’ll be turning left up ahead I take the first opportunity to get in the left lane so I don’t get trapped. I just make sure that once I’m there I’m traveling at a courteous speed.

  10. Another bad habit I have noticed a lot lately is the inability to drive in the center of the lane. People in the left lane with their right tire within a foot of the lane markers (putting their mirror, which they aren’t really using, overhanging into the next lane) or in some case ON the lane marker or a foot or more into the next lane. It’s a real problem when the lanes are narrow and they come very close to sideswiping your vehicle (had a guy tap my mirror with his the other day). Some cases they are not only blocking the left lane, they block enough of the right lane that some people won’t go by them on the right (another problem, over timid drivers).

    Probably one of the reasons my horn is broken. Been using it too much lately. People are not paying attention to driving in massive numbers.

    You know they will use these problems to ban driving.

    • If you take a Class A CDL test, they dock a point every time your trailer touches either line. Perhaps we should incorporate this into regular Class D training too!

  11. ‘There is bad driving. But insouciant driving is worse.’ — eric

    Worst of all, perhaps, is wrong-way driving — entering the off-ramp of a freeway and merging straight into oncoming traffic.

    Horrific head-ons are almost a weekly event in western cities.

    If you have a mental map of a diamond interchange, an on-ramp merges into traffic lanes on your left, outside the driver’s window.

    Whereas if you’re entering an off-ramp in the wrong direction, the traffic lanes will be on your right — outside the passenger’s window.

    How mindf**ked does one have to be, to not notice this basic fact of geometry? How many drinks would it take to obliterate the difference between left and right?

    Weird that this perennial slaughter just goes on and on, without effective countermeasures taken.

    • It’s not hard to do in some cases. I was driving in a part of town I wasn’t all that familiar with, after dark (winter). I went to get on the beltway and, due to very poor lighting, pavement marking and weird ramp design, I almost entered the off ramp.

      That’s another thing I’ve noticed over the years, more and more poorly lit intersections. Maybe it’s age related. I don’t know but, it’s almost like TPTB don’t want you to be able to see.

  12. The Insouciant Driving is getting worse by the day…Trump Jab related?

    I believe so.

    Every drive that I take now has the experience of some kind sick and twisted horror movie…The Zombification of the American Driver…coming soon, to a theater near you.

  13. When I was younger and far more stupid, I had a 95 Firebird Formula that was way too much car for me. I imagined myself a combination of Dale Earnhardt and the Bandit, wearing a Stetson hat and boots to match.

    There would be what I call “blood clots” on the interstate where a car was passing slower traffic in the left lane at a rate of speed of maybe 0.5 mph faster. A large line of cars built up behind this clod and soon the interstate looked like a rush hour traffic jam even though the interstate ahead was clear.

    I was about two cars behind this moron and my patience finally ran out. I ran off on the grass of the median (very dangerous) with an enormous rooster tail of mud flying behind the ‘Bird and passed the SOB in the grass just like Earnhardt did in NASCAR at a race in Darlington. I sprinted away and I could see the traffic still piled up behind that moron who didn’t understand you accelerate to pass.

    It was stupid, sure. Dangerous, yep. But it would’ve never been necessary if not for their stupidity.

  14. Had a new windshield installed the other day. It had a rock chip that progressed to a full-fledged crack all across the middle of the windshield. Just a better world.

    Insouciant drivers are a dead give-away by the way they park. You know then that there are high numbers of insouciant drivers.

    Why can’t people park a car?

    Why should anybody care? Ain’t your car, they can park any way they want. Think of the children. I want insouciance and more of it. More cowbell.

    Maybe Joe Biden is correct, millions off the road is going to solve a lot of problems.

    • My favorites are the ones that park diagonally across the line marking, thus taking up two spots. Makes me want to park right up against the driver’s side so the idiot has to crawl across the passenger seat to get in.

  15. Computers, driving aids do 60% of the driving now, so these morons don’t even try and pay attention when driving, they are too busy texting anyways, some tesla drivers just go to sleep, let the self driving algos crash them into a tree, darwinian.

  16. Left lane bandits are the worst of the worst. It’s every trip for me. So my routine is first crowd their bumper with mine (dangerous, as I have had one idiot brake check me), next step is the horn in short order, then if still no response, I pass right and try to touch my rear bumper to their front as I swing back in front of them. I then usually get a response but I’m long gone. Edgumencation that most likely does nothing to the brain dead.

  17. I think many have discovered that driving in the left lane at the speed limit allows them to focus on their cell phone, since they don’t have to worry about what’s in front of them. Many others simply cannot be bothered with any concern at all about how they affect other drivers, or are completely unaware that they are affecting other drivers. Where I last worked, on the drive home, there was a left turn bottleneck to get on the dual lane highway. One could wait and watch as nearly all drivers making that left turn routinely left a 50′ plus gap between themselves and the car ahead. Failing to clear the left turn lane in a timely manner. Forcing others to wait far longer than necessary, and ensuring the bottleneck continued.

    • I hate that! What are these dang drivers doing instead of executing the turn! Or as a long awaited green light finally appears the front car never seem to be ready for it but rather half asleep and startled by the fact they can now move again.

  18. In your video, I noticed when you came up on that blue vehicle in the right lane ahead of you (about a minute or so into it), that you moved over to the left lane early to pass them. One thing that absolutely drives me nuts is when I’m in the right lane of a multi-lane highway, going either the posted speed or a few MPH faster, when a faster vehicle comes right up on my ass and even follows that closely for a while before taking to the left lane to go around me. WTF? I’m in the right lane, dipshit, just go TF around me! Kudos to you for doing it right.

    If you think it’s bad in Virginia, try going to Nebraska in the fall. People there drive slow in the left lane all the time. They say it’s because of deer mating season and they don’t want to hit a deer (as if it’s better in the left lane than the right). Right. Sure. Whatever you say. How about this, pay attention to your driving and look ahead and off to the side for deer, then slow down if you see one making for the highway. Sheesh!

      • Good driving can add to your vehicle life, my dad was a smooth aware driver and not a Clover. Always looking ahead sizing up developing situations. I have followed his example thus my brakes and u-joints last forever! Easy on the brakes, no jackrabbit starts. But don’t dwaddle the starts either, briskly up to speed so others can make that green light even in town. That hour and a half to make a left on green arrow ain’t helping anyone.

        My daughter the “digital driver”. Hit the gas, hit the brakes, crack that steering. I’ve replaced the brakes twice in 5 years on her MDX now the fronts rotors are warped, again.

    • Hi Jim, I get that a lot too, driving in the right lane on a 3 or even 4 lane highway, and some dipshit comes right up on my rear bumper. One time the guy stayed there for miles, so I started to gradually slow down (was doing the 65 limit) and the moron stayed there until I was almost down to 45. Ugh! Really want a James Bond car with rear facing machine guns and an RPG.

      • Hi Eric, I remember taking a long car trip once, visiting some of the National Parks in the western U.S. We had some kind of old black bomb of a car; no seatbelts. My baby brother rode in a white wicker basinet with the legs folded under it on the back seat. The only mild angst I remember being expressed by my father was whether or not we would make it to the next gas station, in the desert, before the gas ran out.

        • Haha! As an east coaster transplanted in the Rocky Mountain west, one of the first things I learned is always drive on the top half of your tank.


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