Thursday, June 4, 2015


I don’t put that many miles on my car over the course of a year, but I do have a consistent weekday driving pattern to and from the nearest Metro station parking lot. It’s about 10 miles each way, usually under 20 minutes, depending on how I catch the traffic lights and how much congestion I run into. This gives me the opportunity to observe my fellow drivers in their natural habitat.
I’ve noticed some behavioral quirks among many of these drivers. First, and most irksome: far too many people sit in the left lane, often matching speeds with the car in the right lane. Most of the traffic on my route eventually turns left, but c’mon, guys, a left turn give miles down the road is no reason to move to the left lane now. These rolling road blocks are time-consuming and dangerous. Traffic builds around them and drivers become impatient. At the first sign of a passing opportunity - boom! - someone will take the chance.

A second pet peeve involves people who brake for no apparent reason. I drive a small car, and can’t see around the behemoth SUVs, pickups, and minivans ahead of me. When someone brakes, I anticipate slower traffic ahead. When someone brakes repeatedly, for no particular reason, the brake light starts to lose its ability to communicate useful information about road conditions.

I’m convinced many of the people engaged in spontaneous braking are using the brake to make small speed adjustments. Normal drivers would slow down one or two miles per hour by easing up on the gas and letting friction do its thing. Instead, I get the constant barrage of brake lights from drivers who must believe a car in motion has only two available modes, gas and brake, and stopping one activity involves starting the other.

And don’t get me started on the people yapping on the phone, texting, reading a map, reading the newspaper, performing personal grooming chores,...

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