There are 210 million people with a driver’s license in the US. As you sit in traffic - yet again - you’re pretty certain that all 210 million of those people are on road with you. “Those people” include the ones who challenge your patience. Why can’t everyone drive like you? Why can’t they be responsible, follow the speed limit, and be courteous?
Unfortunately, not everyone is like you. There are those who drive too slow, and others who drive too fast. Some talk on the the phone, and others text (although hands free and no-texting laws have helped greatly).
You’re always going to find yourself on the road with those who don’t drive as well as you do.
How many of these drivers have you encountered?
The little old lady from Pasadena
Even if you don’t know where Pasadena is, you know one of its residents. The little old lady from Pasadena is the one who drives 10-20 mph under the posted speed limit.
She makes it really hard to merge on and off the highway because she’s frequently in the right lane driving painfully slowly. She also makes it hard to switch lanes when she’s in one of the middle lanes of the highway driving slowly. If you find yourself behind the little old lady from Pasadena try these tactics:
Tip 1: Check before passing them. If you decide that you want to get around her, wait until you have enough time and distance between you and her to safely switch to your preferred lane. It sounds counterintuitive to suggest that you leave room between you and the lady from Pasadena, but in order to pass you’re going to need some space to speed up, and she’s ahead of you. If you don’t leave some room you could end up clipping her read end.
Tip 2: Flash your lights. If she’s driving in the middle of the highway, flash your lights signifying you want her to move over. If she’s doesn’t move over in short order, stop flashing, and plan on changing lanes yourself.
The makeup artist
According to a UK study, 46% of women admitted to putting makeup on while driving, accounting for 450,000 accidents annually. 3% of US women drivers have had an accident while applying makeup. 75% of US women under the age of 27 admit to applying makeup while driving.
Driving while putting on makeup is dangerous. Here are some suggestions if you see someone applying makeup:
Tip 1: Stay behind them. If you’re behind the person applying makeup, that might be the safest place to be as you can react to sudden movements in front of you. She’s not going to rear-end you if she’s in front of you.
Tip 2: Change lanes. If you’re directly in front of someone applying makeup, change lanes. Things could get ugly. Try to change lanes.
Tip 3: Stay at a distance. If you’re driving next to the makeup artist, change lanes to put some distance between you and them. You don’t need her swerving into you.
The good news about being on the road with people who drive excessively fast is: in a few seconds you won’t have anything to do with them. They’ll be way past you, and someone else’s problem.
But it’s nerve wracking to see a fast approaching car in your rearview mirror, especially when it’s nighttime, you have a dark car, and you’re boxed in. Speed limits exist, in part, because most drivers aren’t capable of handling a car that’s traveling at a high rate of speed. This rule likely applies to the person coming up behind you.
Tip 1: Do not try to compete. Don’t take a chance or let adrenaline get the better of you. Do your best to get out of the way, and let the speeder bother someone else. If you can’t change lanes, put your turn indicator on so the speeder knows you’re trying to get out of the way.
Tip 2: Get out of the way. The last thing you need is a speeder who’s going to teach you a lesson by speeding by you then cutting in front and slamming on his brakes. Try to get out of their way.
Tip 3: Let them pass. If you see that the speeder is also a weaver you’re going to have to make a choice - do you think he’ll weave past you or do you think he’s going to stay in the same lane and want to blow past you? Watch to see what he does as he approaches you. If he weaves past slower traffic, it might be safer to stay where you are, and let him go around you.
Drivers who weave in and out of traffic are a menace. They not only endanger themselves, but they endanger all of the drivers who follow. Lane weavers drive really fast, and test the limits of their car’s handling by cutting in-between cars.
Does weaving get you to your destination more quickly? The folks at Mythbusters put the weaving in and out of traffic vs. staying in one lane to the test. One person drove a car that wove in and out of traffic during the 45 mile trek from San Francisco to San Jose. The other person stayed in the same lane for the entire trip. The weaver got to the destination two minutes sooner than the non-weaver.
The Mythbusters ran the same test a second time using five cars, one weaver and four lane stickers. The weaver took one hour and 16 minutes to get from San Francisco to San Jose, while the stickers took an average of one hour and 25 minutes to reach the destination.
The Mythbuster weaver drivers said that during the test their nerves were shot, and their heart was racing because they were afraid of getting into an accident. Is saving nine minutes worth it?
The road rager
We’ve all seen them. In bumper-to-bumper traffic they honk, flip people the bird, and yell as if the rest of us can do anything to make things flow better. What can you do about the road rager? Stay away, give him plenty of space, and let him take his anger out on someone else. Change lanes, and get behind him. Do anything you can to let someone else be the target of his anger.
The student driver
Lastly, a word about the student driver. Newbie drivers are on the roads in the late afternoon after school with a driving instructor. They’re out practicing at the same time you’re headed home from work or on Saturdays when you’re running errands. Their hands are cemented at the 10 and 2 position, and their knuckles are white.
They drive painfully slowly, but be nice and safely pass them if you need to. We’ve all been in their shoes.
There are many different personalities that unravel once we get on the road. One day someone can be driving like they should be, and on others they can be driving like “the speedster.” Ultimately, what’s most important is your safety. Do what you need to do to effectively approach situations when dealing with alternative driving personalities, but make sure that you do so carefully.