Drivers' annoying habits continue rolling in

TRAFFIC TALK

April 13, 2004|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

YOU ARE still submitting drivers' most irksome behaviors, in response to the March 30 column on the Traffic Talk's top-10 list of worst driving habits.

"Why do [drivers] tailgate cars with high beamers," wondered Tunisia Owens. "If I'm not driving fast enough for you ... then move from behind me. I'm not going anywhere. This happens especially at night - high beam lights on while tailgating a car. This is dangerous and could cause someone not to see properly while driving."

Tailgating steams up James Tibbs' radiator. "Yet, I see law enforcement do it all of the time," he observed.

"Many times when we hear reports of multicar pileups, it is because of tailgating. When I got my driver's license 35 years ago, teens were required to take a defensive driving course. We were taught to maintain one car length for every 10 miles per hour. That means that at 60 miles per hour, there should be at least six car lengths of empty space between your front bumper and the rear end of the car in front of you. Why is that so difficult?" he wondered.

Also on his top-10 list of worst behaviors happens after a car accident on the road. "Second on my list are those people who slow down to `rubberneck,' " he said. I agree.

"I just read with interest your column in the 3/30 Baltimore Sun. I was amazed that a couple my pet bad driving offenses were not mentioned - ones that I encounter every day and which infuriate me," wrote Kate Carter.

Her top-three list includes: "People who use the right-hand lane for passing rather than the left lane - i.e., who come up behind me in the middle lane even when I am going over the speed limit, and pull into the right lane to pass me ... even when they end up running into the slower traffic there and have to slow down again and wait to pass me! Along with that, people who speed in the right-most lane and come up on the rear end of slower-moving traffic as if annoyed that they are going `slow.' If I am not mistaken, the right-hand lane is for slower-moving traffic ... and these days, usually that means people still going over the speed limit," she said. She notes that the word "limit" seems to have lost its meaning, "because no one seems to observe [posted speeds] as a limit."

Second on Ms. Carter's list: "When I am entering a highway and put my blinker on to indicate I need to merge into the traffic, many people speed up or make absolutely NO effort to accommodate me, and rather seem to try to prevent me from entering!" she said.

And finally, "people who use an exit lane to pass traffic in the right-hand lane and then jump ahead of that traffic back into the line of traffic without exiting" particularly annoy Carter.

Understandably so.

Doug Dribben recommends that I revisit the topic of aggressive driving.

"I think you need to rethink the definition of aggressive driving," he said. "You list, as indicators of aggressive driving, `overtaking and passing vehicles, passing on right. ... ' Both of these behaviors are perfectly legal in Maryland, and, with the habit of many Maryland drivers to drive in the left-most lane of traffic regardless of how slowly they are going, maybe perfectly necessary to maintain speed and prevent accidents. In fact, Maryland is one of the few states that allows drivers to pass on the right; in part, I believe, because it recognizes that many drivers will `park' themselves in the left-most lane (normally the `fast' lane) and slow traffic [down].

"These slower drivers who attempt to throttle back the speed on highways ... pose a greater danger to traffic than those who keep up with the natural flow of traffic. Don't get me wrong - if you engage in either overtaking and passing vehicles or passing on right in an attempt to `outrace' traffic, these behaviors can certainly be indicative of aggression, but to list them without qualification as such is not correct," he said.

Actually, illegally overtaking and passing vehicles and illegally passing on the right appear in the Maryland traffic code as contributing factors in aggressive driving. You can read the aggressive driving law (Code 21-901.2) yourself at www.mdar- chives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/html/mmtoc.html, click on "Code of Maryland."

You will find that the law specifically refers to Traffic Code 21-304, which explains when passing on the right is permitted (which is almost always on a multilane highway.) But I thoroughly agree with your disdain for drivers who throttle the smooth flow of traffic.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net, 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 receive a response.

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