Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dangerous drivers

Like both my mother and my brother, I tend to drive with a lead foot. I drive pretty safely, as my father trained me to do, but sometimes it just happens to be that when I look at the spedomoeter, I'm going 5-15mph faster than I intended to (although I'm still in complete control of the car).

Speeders get a bad rap. Not that I'm complaining about getting pulled every now and then for speeding. I'd rather see cops doing their job than not. On a message board Jen posts on, someone has in their signature "Hate cops? Next time you're in trouble, call a crackhead." I can't disagree with it. I don't think most honest people have much to worry about from cops. You just shoot straight with them (ok, bad analogy - you just be honest with them) and most of them are cool.

But it's not really speeders you have to worry about, it's some of the other stupid assclowns on the road.


In the state of Virginia, radar detectors (tool used by intentional speeders to detect cops) are illegal, but here in North Carolina they're not. So I don't know what to make of the fact that all - or at least most - of Virginians drive 20-30 miles an hour over the speed limit. 90% of the time if I get my doors blown off, the vehicle has Virginia tags. Maybe they're just nuts up there.


An old friend of mine said these people were playing pole position, referring to that old Atari driving game. Just today, I was out driving on highway 17 from Chocowinity to Washington, and this 4-door Buick or something is a ways behind me. I go through the northernmost light in Chocowinity, in front of the Hess/Trade Mart when it's yellow, but it's still yellow when I pass under it, so I'm good. I look in my rearview window. 1. Light turns red. 2. Drivers from the east start turning either way (it's a 3-way). 3. The Buick or whatever whistles through, barely missing the cars that have just started to go. Oh, while changing to my lane. I start to get over, but he's on me in a second and whips around me. When I got to the 55-mph zone, he was doing at least 85. (Maybe, just like me, he'd watched a Back to the Future movie last night.)

By the middle of Washington, the stupid SOB got caught behind a logging truck and I passed him - doing the speed limit of 35mph. Funny how that works sometimes.

Insurance scammers

By far the most dangerous people on the road. They'll work individually or in groups of two or more. Their intention is simple: cause a wreck in which their victim is at fault and takes the most damage. They take the money from the insurance settlement. A good insurance scammer is a good driver as well, to initiate, control, walk away from, and profit from a car crash.

The amateur scammer will just cut you off and step on the brakes. In most, if not all of America, if you rear-end someone it's automatically your fault, and getting rear-ended is the scammer's bread and butter. I believe most of the time that's how they initiate the wreck, because the fault is automatically the victim's.

The one that tried to get me today may have had a partner. You can never be sure, but here's what happened. I'm in the right lane, still on highway 17 but this time heading south, back to Chocowinity. Green Explorer and gold sedan (didn't note the make/model) come up on me on the left. The Explorer pulls in front of me while the car is on my left. The Explorer slams on the brakes. So do I, intending to pull around, but the car brakes, too, keeping itself on my side. All of us stopped, I turn to look at the car - and the car and Explorer speed off, either looking for the next victim or to regroup somewhere. Just got my brakes done, but if I wouldn't have, they'd have me in a bind.


These idiots aren't really dangerous, but very annoying. And that's anyone who will flash you with their high beams (or just leave them on) for no good reason.

What's a good reason? Well, the courteous use of the high beams is if you have someone tailgating you, wanting to pass, you flash your high beams to indicate you see no traffic coming and it's safe to pass. Or if an oncoming car has their lights out and it's dark and/or raining, it's a reminder. Or - not courteous but not altogether bad - is if an oncoming car has its high beams on and doesn't lower them for you. It's a reminder but sort of rude to some. But I have to, I have sensitive eyes and the high beams affect my own driving. Then there's if someone cuts you off. I don't condone it, but I do it - and more often than not feel bad about it, unless they cut me off and slow down - then I leave em on. (Lesson: If someone's coming and they have their high beams on, don't jump out in front of them unless you know you can go faster.)

But riding behind someone with the high beams on, keeping up with them, is completely out of the question. Case in point, I was coming home from work, driving on a back road. Another driver came out from a cross street behind me, high beams on. I sped up, figured he forgot to cut them off. Car comes from the opposite way - guy behind me cuts em down for the oncoming car - then flips em back on. I make a turn, the guy follows me. I make another turn, guy follows me again. By now half a dozen cars have come the opposite way. Now I'm pissed. I slow down and stop. He stops too, leaving the bright lights on. I've got a lug wrench beside me, so I grab it and make for the door handle - might as well see what he wants - when he shoots around me. The next turn I make, he misses (being in front of me) but he doesn't come back for me, either.

Now, I wouldn't have hit someone with a lug wrench. I wouldn't have broken someone's headlight or windshield. I'm not violent. I had the lug wrench there because I had changed my tire recently and it was in a convenient place. I felt comfortable being able to grab it, but I don't know what I would have done. Someone doing that - I figure they have to know you. I don't really have any enemies, so I don't know. I'm going home, and he's either following me or going the same way. So I don't know, but I'm glad I didn't have to find out. Didn't recognize the car as it passed, didn't see the driver.

I can't speak for other drivers, but if you put your high-beams on me, I'll speed up if I'm going slow, but if not (or you keep em on) I'm going to slow down until you cut em down or go around and risk a taste of your own medicine for a couple seconds.

But damn, why can't people just show a little courtesy on the road? It'd make driving a lot more fun - safe, as well.

1 comment:

Adam Kinder said...

The trick in VA is to.. well, trick the cops. I'm getting a Valentine One system installed on my BMW, the sensors and display are hidden, and will pop a light on the dash telling me if there is a cop ahead or behind me.