Musings from the Driver’s Seat

How long can a gyre in the middle of the intersection last? A chunk of firewood sat in the middle of the intersection for six months before someone finally stopped and removed it. It sort of swirled around and around, but never moved, like a patch of stagnant water or air. I saw it twice a day for months and the log sat there, despite it being the crossing of a major road and a state highway. Sand joined the log in winter, forming a little pale swirl in the middle of the road, but never went anywhere until early April, when the log and its surrounding detritus disappeared. The debris from a minor wreck have taken their place.

What percentage of cars have turn-signals that have never worked? And why do so many cease functioning when the front wheels enter a parking lot?

What inspires people to race along the side of a traffic land, passing everyone, and then cutting in front of the lead car, only to slow to ten below the limit? And staying there, in the land, at that speed, until the next major intersection (half a mile in some cases). Is it a form of status display, like different birds that try to fluff larger and larger? Is it an attempt to get pole-position for the red light? Do they think that if you go ten over, then ten under, you can’t get a ticket because it averages out?

Will we ever run out of new ways to break traffic laws and startle other drivers? Is this Nature’s way of thinning the gene pool and ensuring that the bulk of the population stays alert and wary, sort of like lions and cheetahs serving as the gym teachers for wildebeest and other grazers? In the past month I’ve seen: people stop at a red light, let two cars turn left with the green arrow, then zoom through the red while the turn arrow is still green and continue on their way; people stop at an interstate overpass, look both ways, jump the first light, cut off a slower sedan and jump a second light, and then dart up part of the median to get onto the Interstate; a large pick-up use the left-turn lane in the center of a major road as a passing lane. And then there’s the little red sports-car with US Army vanity tags that was doing at least 65 in a 50 while I was going 55 and passed me on the wrong side. Talk about living down to the stereotype of little red sports-cars.

Not to mention people driving the wrong way in a school parking lot despite the arrows on the pavement and the frantic honking and waving of the people trying not to be run over. But we won’t mention that.

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13 thoughts on “Musings from the Driver’s Seat

  1. I think the “speed up and pass, then slow down” thing is related to that study that found people go faster if they can see cars– and the way that if you’re in cruise, and pull over to pass someone and they’ll speed up to match you. (and then swerve as they slam on the brakes, honk, and flip you off, because they didn’t notice the SIMI TRAILER in front of them…and you go on, still on cruise….)

    Once the guy gets to the front of the line, he’s going “fast enough” because there are no cars ahead of him.

    The parking lot guys that get to me are the ones going the wrong way who flip you off and scowl because you don’t get “far enough over” for them.

    • Pa had once described the changing of lanes while turning as “The Wausau Maneuver” due to the frequency of it in Wausau, WI. That was brought home one day when I was driving in Wausau and someone was shocked, shocked that I maintained lane discipline through a turn and had therefore not vacated the spot they were aiming at – and seemed to blame me for being in the wrong. Sheesh.

      Should you have the misfortune to drive in Wausau, beware that it can also be described as a place full of one way streets, all going the wrong direction. The drivers do follow the directions of the streets (well, for the most part) but the layout tends to leave much to be desired.

    • I had a similar problem with this on I-44 in southwest Missouri during my road trip last year summer. It was very early in the morning, the road was almost empty. The speed limit was 70, I was doing about that, but the pickup ahead of me was doing 65. I moved over into the left lane, passed, moved back into the right lane maybe 500 feet ahead of the pickup, and kept going about 70. The pickup sped up, passed me, and slowed back down to 65. So I passed him again, and then he did the same darn thing. This happened several more times until the jerk finally exited.

  2. What percentage of cars have turn-signals that have never worked?

    A story from the weekend. Fellow gets a new car every couple years and his latest has a lane-sensing setup that nudges the steering wheel if the car senses drift out of the current lane. Another fellow complained to the dealer that the car was always fighting him whenever he was changing lanes. The dealer replied, “If you’d use your signals, that wouldn’t happen.” Yep, if you tell the car you mean to do that, it gets out of the way.

  3. Many are the Caddies in South Florida with permanently blinking left or right blinkers… But that DOESN’T mean the driver is actually going to do that… Detritus in the intersection is endemic in certain parts of the country, and damn near the NORM in Italy, since they average a wreck a day per intersection… sigh

  4. It is amazing how many new cars have broken blinkers.

    I have to confess however that I regularly drive against the arrows in parking lots, particularly ones with slanted parking. See I prefer to back into parking spots and you can’t back into a slant parking spot if driving the direction they usually paint arrows. I’ve never been in a parking lot however where there isn’t enough room for two cars abreast, so I don’t really see the point of the arrows in the first place.

    My other favorite is the guy who passes you on a blind corner, or with traffic coming; only to slam his brakes on in front of you and turn off within a half mile.

    • Ah yes, the joker that must pass.. to turn off. Wait a couple seconds and the need to pass goes away. But that’s logic, so evidently we can’t have that.

      And some claim that backing into a space is a hazard. Except I notice it’s a lot easier to see what’s going on when exiting a space forward. For speed, that is how emergency vehicles are parked ($HOUSEMATE spent many years as volunteer EMT… if a vehicle is going to be parked for longer than lunch or such, it’s likely to be set to get out easily and quickly) and Ma worked for a place that said they wanted people to park ‘nose out’ to make departure safer. What kind of crazy company would give such advice that is counter to so much? It was an insurance company. One of those places that deals with risk.

      • I know of several companies that require backing in when parking, and when I worked with the Army they did also. The claim is that backing out causes more accidents than backing in does.

  5. Turning and turning in a widening gyre
    The broken glass, sand, and partial bumper
    Things fall apart, the debris island cannot hold
    When the sweeper is loosed upon that world…

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