Sending the wrong signals

November 20, 1997|By Kevin Cowherd

THERE ARE so many irritating drivers on the roads these days that I can barely ride 5 miles without wanting to take a tire iron to someone.

I used to think the most irritating drivers were those dimwits who crawled along in the fast lane of interstate highways and wouldn't move over to let you pass.

These people drove me absolutely crazy. Because they obviously didn't get the whole concept behind the passing lane.

Look, I don't care how slow you want to drive. You can drive 10 mph for all I care. Just get the hell out of my way.

And if you want to poke along at 50 mph on the Beltway, do it in the far right lane so the rest of us can get on with our lives.

Then for a while, I thought the most irritating drivers were those clods who left their turn signal on for 10 or 15 miles.

Get stuck behind one of these people and you find yourself riding the brake the whole time and shrieking: "Is he turning here? No, guess not. OK, how 'bout here? Nope. OK, maybe here?! Is he turning here?!"

When you finally pass this person and spot the vacant look in his eyes, you realize he has no intention of turning until he reaches, oh, Nevada.

Because you can tell this person is in his own little world.

He doesn't even know he's in his car, never mind that his turn signal is blinking.

But lately I've been coming across a category of driver that is raising my irritation to a whole new level, roughly to the level of Mount Everest.

I'm talking about those drivers who pull up to a red light at busy intersection, OK?

And you pull up behind them, intending to go straight, right?

And suddenly, when the light turns green -- they put on their left-turn signal.

I'm sorry, but I just want to kill someone who does this.

Oh, I know that's a terrible thing to say.

And I know if you do something like that, you're looking at a long stretch in the slammer.

And probably a shank in the ribs the first time you don't turn over an extra pork chop to that hulking weightlifter cellmate of yours.

Still, it might be worth it.

Because when I get behind someone who pulls this turn-signal stunt at an intersection, I go absolutely ballistic.

When you're boxed in like this, you might as well grab yourself a Snickers bar, like in the TV commercial.

Because you're not going anywhere for a while.

You can't go around this jerk on the right because traffic is whizzing by and you'll die.

And let's face it, you have a better chance of seeing God than you do of another car actually slowing down and letting you in that lane.

So there's nothing you can do except sit there and curse until Mr. or Ms. Considerate makes the left turn.

Now maybe some of you are reading this and thinking: Boy, this guy must be a real joy to be around on the highway! He must be one of these 85-mph, lane- changing psychos I see roaring up on my bumper every morning.

Actually, that's not true at all.

If you want to know the truth -- and I've got my right hand on a Bible here -- I'm your basic cautious driver: alert, eyes constantly scanning the horizon for trouble, hands on the wheel at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock, that sort of guy.

OK, I probably drive a little over the speed limit.

But that's because everyone drives over the speed limit these days.

Madeleine Albright drives over the speed limit.

The pope would probably drive over the speed limit.

All I'm trying to do is keep up with traffic and not get run over out there.

But the point is, there's a right way to drive and wrong way to drive.

It's that simple.

And waiting until the light turns green to hit your turn signal is like having a neon sign over your car that says: "Please excuse me. I am an idiot. I don't know what I'm doing out here."

People talk a lot about road rage these days.

But I'll tell you something: There'd be a heck of a lot less road rage if people didn't do stupid things at busy intersections.

Especially when I'm behind them.

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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