Those aggravating drivers and their aggravating habits

TRAFFIC TALK

February 08, 2005|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THERE ARE a lot of drivers out there who get upset at other drivers on occasion, and I admit I am one of them. Since misery not only loves company but can't survive without it, here is a list of some prevalent pet peeves.

It constantly astounds me to see people with dogs, often with the animals' heads hanging out the window, on drivers' laps while the driver is operating a vehicle. It is dangerous to other motorists; it is dangerous for the driver and his or her passengers; and it is dangerous for the dog, which can suddenly go flying out the window or through the windshield. If we care enough about them to buy overpriced premium dog food and pay exorbitant vet bills, surely we love them enough to keep them safely buckled in the seat-harnesses made especially for dogs.

Sarah Adkins gets upset when "people brake before they get on the exit ramp, slowing down traffic when not necessary."

Why can't drivers of sport utility vehicles and suburbanized military vehicles learn to park them before they take them out on the road? I'm tired of seeing Chevy Tahoes and my favorite, Hummer H2s, straddling parking-space lines. If your vehicle is too big for you to park properly, then keep it at home and use a vehicle you are capable of handling.

Mike Daniel gets a kink in his carburetor when he sees "drivers who think that a left turn at a red arrow is permissible after coming to a stop, as long as the way is clear. Maryland only allows left on red when turning from a one-way street onto a one-way street."

When will drivers who pay more attention to eating or the kids screaming in the back seat get as much scrutiny as cell phone yakkers? I'm not fan of cell phone-addicted drivers, but other drivers need to get wise to the hazards they create as they drift mindlessly across lane lines and careen recklessly through intersections.

Drivers who don't "merge nice" put the crank in Marianne Fox's crankshaft. "Why can't drivers take turns at merges?" she asked. "First a car from one lane, then a car from the other lane." And I agree. I've long advocated "zipper" merges, which is when drivers from both of the merging lanes alternate yielding. Zipper merges, especially at road construction sites when a lane is shut down, are safe, courteous and keep traffic moving.

I find fault with self-righteous drivers who cruise mindlessly in the left lane, forcing drivers who wish to go faster to pass on the right. It is not your job to clamp down on the speeders, so don't. If prevailing traffic is going faster than you are, move to the right.

But I also find fault with drivers who come flying down a multilane highway and tailgate so closely to the car in front of them that they seem to be trying to get into the back seat. Give the driver in front of you a chance to move to the right, please. Or better yet, stop driving so aggressively.

Jon Merryman finds fault with most of us, I'm afraid. I once read a statistic that showed that 92 percent of the driving population is guilty of chronic speeding -- and there are few besides Mr. Merryman and my husband who don't. "Next time you commute to the office, drive no higher than the posted speed limit -- the entire way. Adults, most of them parents -- are out of control -- speeding, cutting people off, tailgating. ... Everyone speeds, yet we beg our kids not to do the same. How in the world can we expect our children to listen to us when most of us don't have the self-control necessary to be responsible drivers ourselves? Compound those facts with the constant barrage of auto ads featuring the drivers of cars and trucks breaking every law on the books and you'll realize that our kids are not the problem, it's us adults. It's time for all of us to grow up if we expect this problem to go away. Set the example, or don't be so shocked when your own kid gets wrapped around a tree."

What pet peeve do you think should go here?

Cell phones

Did you know that school bus drivers in Maryland can legally talk on a cell phone while driving your kids to school? If the Maryland legislature does not pass restrictions on cell phone use for all drivers, it should at least ban school bus drivers from adding another distraction to their daily drives. Information about laws regarding cell phones across the country: the Governors Highway Safety Association's Web site, www.state highwaysafety.org and look for the "cell phones and distracted driving" link.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at TrafficTalk@comcast.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. Include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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