Monday, January 05, 2009

The Top 10 most annoying freeway drivers

Making the 1800-mile round trip to visit my mom and sister in California, I observed that there are a lot of annoying frakkin' drivers on the freeway. Here are the Top 10.

10. The Old Dude in a Sports Car
This gray-haired fellow usually drives a 'Vette, but sometimes he even has a Ferrari. It doesn't matter though, because he never drives it faster than 3 miles per hour over the speed limit. Hey Old Dude, you think we're smiling and pointing because your car is so cool? Wrong. We're smiling and pointing because your car is so cool, and you just got passed by a family of six in a minivan.

9. The Passer on the Right when Traffic is Blocked by a Truck Passing a Truck
This driver is an adjunct to Trucks Passing Trucks (see below). A truck blocks the fast lane while passing another truck. This allows slower right-lane traffic to catch up to you while you join the line waiting for the truck to get out of the way. One of these slower cars always gets the bright idea of passing you on the right instead of joining the back of the line.
Um, Lady -- these drivers are usually middle-aged women -- there's a reason I passed you two miles back: I want to drive faster than you want to drive. Why, oh why, do you have to go in front of me again and make me pass you a second time when we finally get past the trucks?

8. The Inconsistent Speeder
This guy -- it's always a guy -- cuts you off as he shoots out of the on-ramp at maximum acceleration, zips across three lanes without signaling, and disappears into the distance while weaving in and out of traffic at 90 miles per hour. Four minutes later, you catch up and pass him, because now he's in the right lane puttering along at 60.

7. Yuck
You notice something a little odd about a car in front of you. It's swerving slightly in its lane, but not enough to make you think it's a drunk driver. The driver is kind of leaning over, he only has one hand on the wheel, and he keeps glancing down and talking. Since the traffic is too heavy to let you pass right away, you start to wonder what's going on, when up from his lap pops the bleached-blond head of his wife or girlfriend. O. M. G.
When you finally get a chance to pass them and put as much distance as possible between them and you, you can't help glancing over to see what kind of people would act that way. A young, beautiful couple who just can't keep their hands off each other, and who could really blame them? Nope. It's the Ropers.

6. The Guy Who Passes You and Then Slows Down
These guys are unclear on the concept of passing. For normal drivers, passing is what you do when you want to travel faster than another car. Say you want to go 80, and another car is going 75. You pass it, and you keep going 80. But that's not how it works for the Guy Who Passes You and Then Slows Down. He thinks the point of passing is to get in front of other cars.
Say he's going 75 and you're going 80. If you pass him, he'll speed up to 85 so he can pass you right back. Once he's in front of you, though, he'll gradually slow back down to 75, because that's how fast he actually wants to go. He just doesn't want to do it with any cars passing him. Speed back up to 80 and pass him again; he'll do 85 and pass you, then slow down to 75 once he's in front of you. This will continue until A) one of you exits the freeway or B) you accelerate to a speed he's unwilling to match. (Usually 95 will do it.)

5. Trucks Passing Trucks
OK truckers, I realize that the ways of truckers will ever be unfathomable to us mere passenger-car drivers, and there must be some vital though obscure reason that trucks traveling in one of their little ad hoc groups and all going the same speed anyway need to pass each other and block both lanes, but do you think you could perform your little maneuvers over distances of less than five miles? Please? Like maybe the passing truck could go more than 1 mile per hour faster than the truck it's passing? Or maybe the truck being passed could slow down slightly so the passer could get by in less than five minutes and block fewer than 27 other vehicles? I'm just askin'.

4. Redneck Headlights
That's what I call them, because if you replaced the headlights on your pickup but didn't bother to align them, and one of them points down so sharply that it only illuminates the three feet directly in front of your bumper while the other points too high at just the right angle to blind every other driver on the road, you just might be a redneck.

3. The Slow Darter around Trucks
Driving along in the slow lane in a fuel-efficient but low-horsepower economy car, the Slow Darter around Trucks' plan is to quickly dart around a truck and get back into the slow lane. It sounds good in theory, but unfortunately the truck is going 55, and they're "darting" around it at 60, while you're coming up behind them in the fast lane at 85. It never occurs to the Slow Darter around Trucks to let faster cars go by before passing the truck. No, they just go through with their slow-motion dart at exactly the right moment to make you brake hard to avoid shortening their wheelbase by several feet.

2. The Fast-Lane Stayer
Every few miles, there are signs that say, "Slower Traffic Keep Right." You're in the left lane, on cruise control, going 85. The Fast-Lane Stayer is ahead of you in the left lane, going about 75. You're coming up on them fast. Traffic is light; they aren't passing anyone, they're just driving in the left lane. They must see you coming in their rearview mirror. They'll get out of the way and let you by, just like the sign says, right? Wrong.
You get close enough that you have to hit the brakes and disengage the cruise control. Now they'll get out of the way, right? Nuh-uh. They just stay there. You follow too close for about 30 seconds. Nothing. Your wife says, "You're following too close." You say, "I'm not following too close, they're driving too slow." Finally you give up and pass on the right. "'SLOWER! TRAFFIC! KEEP! RIGHT!' YOU FRAKKIN' WANKER!" Your wife says, "You shouldn't pass on the right."

1. Mr. or Ms. Driving the Speed Limit in the Fast Lane
A subspecies of Fast-Lane Stayer, Mr. or Mrs. Driving the Speed Limit in the Fast Lane is a genuine hazard to other vehicles. They're oblivious to the stream of cars passing them on the right. Their mental process seems to work something like this: "Dur. Why should I get out of the fast lane? I'm going the speed limit. That means no one should go faster than me. I'll stay right here. Dur." Mr. or Ms. Driving the Speed Limit in the Fast Lane, I hate you.

2 comments:

  1. This might be the most awesome top 10 list ever. I want to spread it around in hopes that more people will recognize their OBNOXIOUS, IRRITATING, AND INCONSIDERATE selves.

    Also, do you have an opinion on the merits of religiously using cruise control? Does it create more problems (like the Slow-Darter Around Trucks and the Driving The Speed Limit In the Fast Lane) than it solves (like Inconsistent Speeder and Guy Who Passes You Then Slows Down)?

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  2. The best thing about cruise control is that it keeps you from slowing down for curves. People naturally slow down for curves, but the freeway is designed for curves to be taken at the speed limit, so there's no reason to slow down unless a lower speed is actually posted.

    I'll bet using the cruise control to maintain speed while on the curvy mountainous parts of I-5 must have saved us at least 5 minutes out of our 15-hour drive. Plus, I'm pretty sure I really annoyed this guy in a pickup who wanted to pass me but couldn't keep up on the curves.

    So yeah, always use cruise control.

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