Monday 6 June 2011

Annoying drivers: Are you one of them?

Many years ago, I investigated hundreds of car accidents for an insurance company where the victims were either killed or seriously injured. Further, I have driven motor scooters, cars and vans in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Belize, Hawaii and Italy and I estimate that I have driven close to a million miles. It follows that I have seen my share of really inconsiderate, stupid, obnoxious and dangerous drivers while I have been on the road. I have even on some occasions been rather careless myself by not paying closer attention to my own driving. We are all guilty to some degree of carelessness at some time or another. The fact that we are still alive is probably due to the carefulness of the other drivers sharing the road at the same time we were driving in their immediate presence. Now I will tell you of the kind of really annoying drivers I have had to deal with while I was on the road. I am sure that you have also had to share the road with these annoying drivers.

Driving through red lights

This act is truly the most dangerous driving act that a careless or dangerous driver can do. There are three times when I and my wife were nearly killed by these kinds of offenders.

One time the offending driver drove at a very high speed into the intersection against the red light while my car was moving towards the center of the intersection. When his car brushed near us when passing in front of us, my car vibrated—he was that close to us. Had he hit us, my wife and I would have definitely been killed.

Another time, a stupid woman was angry at me because I wouldn’t let her cut in front of me so she drove into the left turn lane then cut in front of me and barreled right into the intersection against the red light. When I was finally abreast of her at the next intersection waiting for the red signal to turn to green, I asked her why she drove through the intersection on a red signal. She replied, (get ready for it) “You wouldn’t let me cut in front of you.”


There are three kinds of tailgaters. The first kind is the person who isn’t paying attention to his driving. They don’t deliberately tailgate but their carelessness can cause accidents.

The second kind of tailgater is the one who when the traffic is heavy, he closes in towards the car ahead of him so that no one else can cut in front of him. However, in heavy traffic, the vehicles are not really moving so fast so that the damage he causes to his vehicle and the one he rear ended won’t be too great.

The third kind of tailgaters are the ones that really infuriate me. They want to have an unobstructed view ahead of them so they move in behind every car in front of them, irrespective of the speed everyone is driving at. It is their intention to get the drivers ahead of them to move out of his way. And as to be expected, many drivers move out of the way of these highway thugs and that is what encourages them to continue driving in that matter. I have seen these highway thugs creep up to within a car length from the car ahead of them when both cars are moving at 120 kilometres an hour. That constitutes dangerous driving and if a person is convicted of that offence in Ontario and other jurisdictions, he will lose his licence for a year and his insurance premium will skyrocket right out of sight.

When I was a young and foolish and I didn’t give a tinker’s dam about these tailgating thugs, I would wait for an opportunity to jam on my brakes. I would do this when the brake lights of the car ahead of me would go on or another car was moving into my lane therefore justifying my braking. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do it often.

The first time I did this, the car tailgating me jammed on his brakes and flew into a ditch, minus one wheel. The second time, the tailgator’s car also flew into the ditch and it too had to be pulled out by a tow truck. The third time, the tailgating driver behind me jammed on his brakes and was rear ended by another car tailgating him. The fourth time while I was driving a real heavy car, the tailgater smashed into the rear bumper of my car and did $800 damage to his car whereas all I got was a small indentation in my rear bumper.

A police officer I know made a very good suggestion to me that I found extremely effective in getting tailgaters to move from the rear of my car and move ino another lane. But first, let me tell you what speed motorists drive at while driving on major highways in Ontario.

In Ontario, the maximum speed limit is 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour on major highways. But almost everyone is driving 120 kilometres (74 miles) an hour. The police don’t pull over motorists driving 120 kilometres an hour because it has been established that motorists driving that speed if driving carefully are not at risk to themselves or others on the highways.

Nowadays if a tailgater is behind me on a major highway, I gradually slow down to 100 kilometres an hour and I maintain that speed until the tailgating thug moves into the next lane. It has worked almost every time I did it and that was hundreds of times. Generally the tailgater moves into the next lane in less than a minute. When I did it to a transport truck driver who was tailgating me, by the time he got his vehicle back up to full speed from 20 kilometres an hour, I was several kilometres ahead of him.

There was one exception however. I was on a secondary road and the maximum speed limit was 80 kilometres an hour. A woman wanted to pass me and expected me to pull over to the side of the road so she could pass me. I decided to slow down to 60 kilometres an hour and would you believe it, she actually remained behind me for thirty kilometres even though she could have passed me by moving into the opposite lane when it was clear. I wasn’t in any hurry so my speed of moving 60 kilometres an hour slowed her down for the next thirty miles. Obviously, she too wasn’t in a hurry. She simply wanted an unobstructed view of the road or maybe she was on a power trip and she simply liked getting motorists ahead of her to move out of her way. Well she failed in getting me to move out of her way and ended up reducing her speed to 60 km from 80 km for thirty kilometres.

Weaving in and out of traffic

I can appreciate why it is necessary on occasion to cross one’s vehicle several lanes, such as when you want to move to the exit lane but some drivers do it just so they can get to their destination quicker. But despite their weaving their vehicles from lane to lane, back and forth, they really haven’t shortened their trip that much.

Can you believe it? There are really stupid people on the road that cut right in front of other cars without even signaling their intentions ahead of time. I have had this happen to me when some dummies were mad at me because I wouldn’t get out of their way. Some of them had pulled to my right, then passed me and then not only cut in front of me; they actually applied their brakes immediately in front of my car. One dangerous driver repeated this continuously so I contacted the police. He was convicted of dangerous driving.

If that happens to you, DO NOT jam on your brakes. You will lose control of your vehicle if you jam on your brakes when you are going a hundred kilometers an hour on the road. Years ago, I was not paying attention and I was tailgating the car in front of me. He put on his brake lights and I panicked and jammed on my brakes. I lost control of my car and swerved across three lanes of traffic before I got it under control again.

Driving slowly when merging into the highway from the on-ramp

Have you ever experienced driving the speed limit on a major highway in the right hand lane and you see a car moving in the same direction while it is on the on-ramp? It infuriates me that the driver in that lane refuses to match the speed of the cars on the highway and then drives right into your lane when your car is a very short distance from it. You are then forced to put on your brakes so that you won’t rear-end him.

Crossing directly across several lanes after merging from the on-ramp

Sometimes these fools on the road will drive though several lanes after they have merged from the merging lane without first checking to see that they can do it safely. This forces other other drivers to brake lest they hit the fool’s car.

Driving on the oncoming lane at the brow of a hill

Have you seen some motorists actually drive in the oncoming lane at the brow of a hill or when there is a sharp turn up ahead? I have seen it quite a few times. These people are really dangerous. And when they realize that they are going to drive into the oncoming car coming towards them, they will suddenly move into your lane, thereby either hitting your car or alternatively, forcing you to brake so hard, you lose control of your car.

Speeding on a highway in a fog or blinding snow storm

There have been many accidents on highways when the drivers of the vehicles are speeding in fog or a blinding snow storm. As a result, many people have been killed this way. Years ago, a young driver was driving his father's truck on a secondary highway in Ontario during a blinding snow storm. He pulled into the oncoming lane to get ahead of a slow moving vehicle ahead of him and smashed into a car in which a family of four were in it. The parents and two children in the car were killed and the young driver only got a nose bleed.

One time when I was on a major highway at night and I couldn’t see more that a few feet ahead of me, I moved to the curb lane and was driving very slowly looking for a off ramp. Suddenly, the lights from a large vehicle loomed up behind me. I quickly moved to the shoulder and just as I did, a huge transport truck flashed by me at a high rate of speed. I later learned that often the fog is only ten feet in height so truck drivers can see above it. What they don’t see are the smaller vehicles below them.

I like the story about the driver who was driving in a fog on a street and he and the driver of the car ahead of him were driving very slowly. He noticed that the car ahead of him had made a right turn and because he thought it was the same intersection he was going to make his right turn at, he followed the car ahead of him by making the same right turn. Suddenly, the driver ahead of him turned off his lights and the motorist behind him rear ended the car in front of him. He got out of his car and angrily said, “Why did you stop your car in the middle of the lane you were in?” The other motorists replied, “Middle of the lane? Are you crazy? I am in my driveway.”

If you go back into my blog to June 17, 2008, you can read the article I wrote that was also published in a police magazine. It deals with how a fog really can create a disastrous result on a highway, especially at night.

Up to 80 vehicles were involved in a mass pile-up on a German highway the 8th of April 2011 which left eight people dead and 97 more injured. The accident was apparently caused by a sandstorm as a direct result of strong winds in the area.

In 1988 William Wharton lost his daughter, son-in-law and grandchild in a multi-car truck pile up accident caused by the smoke from a fire in a field that obscured everyone’s visibility. His loved ones were incinerated in the flames of their car.

When you are approaching a dense fog, blinding snow storm, a sand storm or dense smoke on a highway, pull over to the side of the road and let the fools who are moving at a high rate of speed smash their way into oblivion. It is far better to be late at arriving at your destination than not arriving there at all.

The timid drivers

These kinds of drivers lack confidence in their driving abilities and are intimidated by traffic and highway speeds. These timid drivers will always drive much lower than the speed limit and will not accelerate enough to merge safely with highway traffic. They will display moments of indecision when it comes to driving options such as making left turns and when to proceed and how fast they must go to make those turns.

They cause traffic to bunch up around them on highways. This leads to multiple lane changes and drivers becoming impatient and making dangerous choices or lane changes. Driving slower than the “flow” of traffic can cause traffic mayhem behind the slower driver as others must negotiate a way around the slow moving vehicle. If they must drive slower than the rest of the traffic, then they should stay in the right-hand lane. If they are really driving slow, they should put on their hazard lights. Every car has them.

If they drive very slowly, they are like a rock in a stream. They cause traffic turbulence and other motorists are forced to move into another lane to get around them. The more vehicles moving from lane to lane can cause real problems if one of them is rear-ended and loses control.

Overconfident and/or Arrogant drivers

These drivers are usually driving in an aggressive manner as they are very sure of their capabilities. They are usually speeding and changing lanes often. This aggressive driver feels they are more important than everyone else on the road. They act as if all other drivers are just in ‘their’ way and should not be on ‘their’ road.


One day when I and my wife were on a two-lane highway, a speeder came up from behind us and moved into the other lane that was going in the opposite direction so that he could get around me. He then got in front of our car and sped away at a terrific rate of speed even though the road had lots of turns in it. We later learned that he was racing to catch a ferry, the same one were were catching. When we got to the loading area for the ferry, I didn’t see the ferry. But the speeder’s car was parked right in front of us. It had been there twenty minutes before we arrived. The irony was that the ferry was late and hadn’t arrived. That dunce risked not only his own life but ours also by speeding on a winding road just to get to a ferry that hadn’t even arrived. This foolish driver may have had the confidence and perhaps even the driving talent that would allow him to handle his vehicle while speeding, but if anything had gone wrong, such as having a blowout, no amount of skill would have saved him while he was speeding down that highway if his car slammed into the face of a cliff on the side of the road at 100 kilometres an hour.

Talking or texting on a cell phone while driving.

In most jurisdictions, it is against the law to use a cell phone in any manner while a motorist is driving a vehicle. Not too long ago, a woman was on the phone and ran a red light without realizing it. A transport truck hit the side of her car. She and her young daughter were immediately killed.

These fools minds are focused on anything but driving safely. Even though they know the distraction of talking on the cell phone is dangerous, they feel their business is more important. As we all know, driving, especially on a busy highway requires our full attention.

Have you ever noticed that some drivers turn their heads to their right and keep looking that way while talking to the passenger sitting next to them.

I once saw a man reading a map while he was driving down the highway at a high rate of speed. I have heard of a case where the man was actually reading a book and every five or six seconds, he would look up to see where he was going. I watched a driver of a streetcar reading a newspaper as he was operating the streetcar late at night. These kinds of distractions are what causes crashes between vehicles.

The fallacy of only looking ahead

This kind of driver believes that he or she is the only one on the road. They rarely check their mirrors and have no idea that other vehicles are near or beside them. You may see this motorist heading down a highway with the only other vehicle in sight directly beside them. Horses have blinders on allowing them to only see directly in front of them. Humans are expected to be aware of everything around them. Each driver needs to know what vehicles are in their immediate vicinity to make intelligent lane or avoidance choices. This driver is often hoping others will yield to their lane changes. If they encounter another driver who is almost asleep, the results are usually costly.

Wearing earphones can be deadly

A motorist has to not only see what is going on around him, he must also hear what is going around him. For example, if you hear the squealing of wheels on the pavement, it is possible that a car just a few feet from your side of the car has applied his brakes very hard and as such, may suddenly swerve into your car. This means that if you hear his wheels making that kind of noise, you should be extremely alert as to what is going on beside your own car. This is one of the reasons you shouldn’t have the music in your car speakers too loud.

Wear sunglasses on bright sunny days

If you smash into another car because the sun was in your eyes and you weren’t wearing sunglasses, you will get about as much sympathy from a court that a dog will get if it happens to walk into a flea convention.

Inconsideration of other drivers

Alas, there are many people who are inconsiderate as motorists. My greatest gripe about these kind of people are about the drivers who stop their cars in the curb lane at an intersection while waiting for the signal light to turn green and they do this even when they can see that the car behind them has its right turn signal on. I have seen drivers do this when the lane to their left is clear. I have even seen such drivers leave the center lane and move to the curb lane even when there was no one in the center lane ahead of them and then prevent the driver in the curb lane from making a right turn into the cross street.

My second gripe is when a motorist wants to leave a mall or private driveway and he can’t because as the cars pass in front of him and bunch up near the intersection, no one will stop and let him move forward into a lane. For this reason, he has to wait until the light to his right changes to green and the cars in front of him have finally driven away.

My third gripe is when thoughtless drivers will drive through a large puddle of water at a high speed and splash everyone who is walking or standing on the sidewalk. In many jurisdictions, this amounts to an offence of careless driving and anyone convicted of that offence automatically loses six points and can get a heavy fine and their insurance premium will go much higher.

My fourth gripe is about motorists who want to exit a private driveway or a mall and they wait until you are almost at them and then they suddenly exit the driveway thereby causing you to brake so as not to hit them.

My fifth gripe is that many driver's left wheels are often over the centre line of a road. If they are driving towards an oncoming car whose left wheels are also over the centre line, there will be a horrendous collision and if both vehicles are going 80 kilometres an hour, it is unlikely that anyone in either car will survive.


Many drivers believe that no matter what they do behind the wheel, nothing bad will happen to them. When people die in car crashes, it is always going to be someone else, not them. This driving symptom tends to come in the teenage years and can last into middle age if the driver makes it to that age. They make car crashing video games a reality on the public streets and highways.

Their fearlessness, carelessness and dangerousness on the road leads to very poor driving decisions and reckless driving. Many younger drivers and their passengers succumb to this syndrome of immortality.

Drivers who have been driving for many years and have somehow survived because of the thoughtfulness and carefulness of other drivers believe they know it all about driving. They believe that their experience means they are the best drivers on the road and all those other drivers around them are morons or crazy. For drivers like these fools, their frustration with other motorists can lead to high risk driving and poor decisions.

Their survival in many ways has been the result of luck and not so much skill. One day that luck will run out and the resulting crash will be anyone else’s mistake and not theirs. They will blame the other driver, black ice or anything else since they believe that they could not possibly be at fault. Their closed minds mean they will never learn the skills that could keep them from that future and final crash that will end their lives and the lives of others.

Here is some really frightening facts to consider.

According to the World Health Organization, motor vehicle collisions are the 6th most common cause of death in developed nations. A number of factors contribute to the risk of collision including; vehicle design, speed of operation, road design, and driver skill and/or impairment. A 1985 study by K. Rumar, using British and American crash reports as data, found that 57% of crashes were due solely to driver factors, 27% to combined roadway and driver factors, 6% to combined vehicle and driver factors, 3% solely to roadway factors, 3% to combined roadway, driver, and vehicle factors, 2% solely to vehicle factors and 1% to combined roadway and vehicle factors.

Evidence shows that the risk of having a crash is increased both for vehicles traveling slower than the average speed, and for those traveling above the average speed.

In Canada 33.8% of motor vehicle deaths were associated with alcohol use. In the United States, 12.8% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents during 2001 are known to have been intoxicated according to the blood alcohol concentration.

In 1990, approximately 5 million people died worldwide as a result of fatal injuries. It is estimated that by the year 2020, 8.4 million people will die every year from fatal injuries and disabling injuries from road traffic accidents will be the third most common cause of disability worldwide and the second most common cause of disabilities in the developing world.

And here is the most frightening statistic.

A study in the United States showed that one out of every seven motorists involved in accidents needed psychiatric outpatient treatment and one out of every twenty suffered from a mental illness severe enough to require them to be hospitalized in a psychiatric facility.

What I have just written is enough to scare anyone reading this article and that is what my intention is. Hopefully this article will make you aware of just how dangerous it can be on our streets, roads and highways. Be careful and most importantly, be alert. You certainly don’t want your last ride in life to be in an ambulance or a hearse.

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