Here they are - the top-10 worst-driving habits


March 30, 2004|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I ASKED about the worst of what the moronic motoring masses are doing out there, and you answered. Here is what you submitted for Traffic Talk's top-10 list.

At No. 10, there is "too much politeness at four-way stop signs," said Ron McCandless. "If you are there first, go first," he said. "Don't wave me on, because I'm not expecting it."

The same goes for yielding to incoming drivers at Howard County's roundabouts: Don't do it. While I applaud courtesy and consideration, they are sometimes misguided at intersections and circles.

Next, "people who don't use their turn signals," put an unwelcome bend in Angela Borders' crankshaft, making this the ninth-most annoying behavior. Don't signals come standard on all cars? And here is another question for the signal-less: Do you honestly have that much faith in other drivers' ability to react quickly?

Brian McAllister has encountered one breed of irritating driver that seems to be proliferating on our stop-and-go-slow highways, placing this bad behavior at No. 8 in our countdown. He wondered, "Do any of the drivers who weave in and out of traffic back-ups ever realize that those of us who stay in a lane never lose sight of them?"

Cindy Dyer has encountered this "big annoyance," which rated No. 7: "When I am trying to change lanes, I put my blinker on ... and the person speeds up just so I can't get in," she said. It's a stupid game to play, and a good driver won't engage in the race.

Many of you complained about drivers' bad smoking habits. While drivers flicking butts out of their windows is annoying, it is usually not dangerous, which is why this rates at No. 6. If it were ranked based on how many people mentioned it, it would be No. 1. It is all right if you want to smoke. You are not harming me if you are in your car and I am in mine. But the world is not your ashtray.

Dan Tebbs had something to say about it: "About those folks using the window for an ashtray... I've always wanted to jump out, pick up the butt, throw it back in the window, and say, `You dropped something,' " he said. But don't do it. You don't know what insanity lurks in the driver next to you.

"Cell phone abuse must be the top, all-time, worst behavior," Kathy Hand said. Well, I mostly agree, which landed this stupidity at No. 5. "I'm against anything that takes even one hand from the wheel. This is especially true when the minimum speed on the highways is 75 mph," Ms. Hand said.

I would throw in other driving distractions such as putting on cosmetics, reading the newspaper, twiddling with the compact disc-player and eating.

At No. 4, Kay Sherri submitted what I thought was one of drivers' worst habits: not even slowing down to make a right on red. "Right turn on red is supposed to come after stop, not AFTER `slow down a little'," she said. "In the past week, I've watched three times where if someone had not been quick on the brake, BOOM! And my husband was hit a couple years ago by someone who said, `I didn't expect you to stop.' He had a red light and she was shocked that he was going to stop for it!"

Lisa Schwartz submitted: "Tailgating! That has to be the WORST, most annoying thing people do," she said. And dangerous too, which drove this annoying behavior to third-dumbest driving behavior. "Why these idiots think it's okay to drive 3 feet from the back of my car when we're on the highway doing 65 mph is beyond me. I'm not a slow driver, and I stay out of the left except for passing. There's no excuse to tailgate anyone, at anytime, but if I'm in the middle or right lane, it galls me even more," she said.

The penultimate worst-driver behavior I've come across was submitted by Terri Hunter. "The one that bothers me most is people that fly past school buses - while they are unloading children. Needless to say, this is not just a bad habit, but [also] incredibly unsafe," she said. Not to mention, illegal. When school buses' red lights are flashing, stop at least 25 feet away.

And the No. 1 worst-driver behavior? "Seeing young kids walking about in the car unbuckled or seeing young kids sitting up front or on laps," Leslie Nissenberg said, and I agree.

If you decide not to wear your seat belt, that's your choice. At the end of the road, you're the one taking the risk. And I hope you've given some thought to why you're ignoring common sense and the law. But too often, folks carelessly impose these same risks on their young passengers. That disregard for children's well-being and safety is what makes this unforgivable.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia, 21044. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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