The open road can be a harrowing place. From erratic drivers to a crumbling infrastructure, any combination of challenges can present themselves at any moment. You never know what it is going to be, but if you prepare yourself, you might be able to prevent an incident. Here are ten people you will meet in a given year of driving. Some are more dangerous than others, and you would do well to try and avoid them when possible:
As a New England resident and seasoned Boston driver, I am no spring chicken when it comes to driving like a jerk with a purpose. In fact, it’s when a driver is acting timid that I do not know how to respond. But in the Northeast, truckers by law have to stay out of the left lane, unless there is a two lane highway. Then all bets are off.
This got really nasty on several road trips I have taken through Midwest states. Truckers passing other truckers make their move even though other cars are not out of their way. I watched, as motorists had to slow down or drive into the breakdown lane to avoid the barreling semi. I’m not exaggerating. I don’t have to. These wackos are out there.
Slow In the Fast Lane
Admit it, you do not use the left lane for passing only. It’s ok, I won’t tell. It seems that it is a general understanding that the left lane is for fast traffic, and people tend to stay in that lane, even though the law in some states says they should not. I’m all for efficient flow of traffic, so this practice does not seem as evil as law enforcement would like to make it out to be.
But it is when some driver thinks that 3 MPH under the speed limit is acceptable for cruising in the fast lane that things go astray. That timid sort will venture into faster waters, thus holding up a line of vehicles behind them. They are the worst.
Passing Through The Passing Lane
This is a variation of the previous driver. Said driver respects the left lane as a passing lane, and is in the middle lane most of the time, but driving faster than the vehicle in front of it. This driver decides he/she will use the passing lane to execute a pass, but forgets that there are vehicles traveling in that lane at a higher rate of speed. This driver typically pulls into the lane without looking, causing a driver already in the left lane to slam on the brakes.
The Mindless Merger
Legally, most highway ramps are accompanied by a large “Yield” sign. The idea is that the driver pulling onto the highway has to wait for an opening to merge, but given how fast vehicles on the highway travel, and how long it takes some cars to get up to speed, most drivers simply accelerate their way onto the freeway, and hope for the best.
Most people with a brain know that nearly all drivers do this, and try and avoid being in the slow lane when there is a merging ramp, but some overly cautious folks think that being in the slow lane at all times is the safest thing to do. These people tend to cause issues, because they are probably also driving slower than even the cars that are merging.
Blinker Left On
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you are in the left lane and a driver has the left blinker on, no worries, but if the right blinker is on, there is no telling what this driver might be up to, or if they are actually going to make a move into that lane.
Condemned Trailer In Tow
From pop-up campers to landscaping trailers, there are plenty of hazards being towed around the open road. On the highways, poor alignment and improper tire inflation makes being around these trailers downright dangerous. Banked turns and potholes on the freeway basically allow these trailers to swing about and are a real danger. You have to be a certain kind of stupid to continue to drive with such a trailer in tow.
Deathly Afraid of Semis
While these trailers are certainly dangerous, some drivers choose to ignore the potential for a mishap, but are irrationally afraid of passing a semi truck, for fear that a blowout will occur the moment they are next to it. Meanwhile, the entire flow of traffic is being held up, while they try to overcome their fear of semi trucks. These people should stick to the far right lane, or perhaps be given training wheels.
I like to think that I travel at a pretty decent clip. There is a speed that is a little faster on the highway than the speed limit that many travel at. The general flow of traffic on a freeway tends to be between 5-10 mph over the speed limit. We don’t condone speeding, but understand the flow of traffic.
For some, that just is not fast enough, and love to ride your tail until you get out of the way. Even though there is no room in the middle lane to pull over and let them pass, they continue to persist, then pulling back up to 85 mph. The only solace is that you occasionally see them pulled over by a traffic cop several miles up the road.
Wayyy Too Polite
You know when you walk up to a doorway and someone is coming in the other direction, and you are both being polite and invite the other to go first. So then you both go, but then you both stop, and it’s this dumb back-and-forth until someone breaks free. Imagine that on the road, when two cars are at an intersection. It is infuriating for everyone around this intersection watching society be degraded with politeness right before your very eyes.
The problem driver on the open road is always the one you aren’t prepared for. Honda Civic with a deteriorating mattress strapped to the roof? A Pontiac Trans Am driver, chucking empty cans out the window? Who knows what it could be. It has been said that “you don’t know what you don’t know” and that is what could spell an issue. So be prepared, and always pay attention, and keep your eyes out for these terrible drivers that you meet on the road!
Photo Credit: HowStuffWorks, JDMStyleTuning.com, Florida Department of Transportation