Legal(ish) driving habits that are just as bad as heavily criminalised ones
Some driving habits are impossible or very hard to ticket, but can be incredibly infuriating, unethical, or dangerous. Here are the top offenders!
Dear DT readers, I am sure that those of us who drive, and even younger enthusiasts riding shotgun on the passenger seat can relate to the experience of becoming angered by some clown breaking traffic laws. Either because it is stupid, dangerous, ignorant, arrogant, or all of the above, and as much as I hate "offended" culture, I believe we have every right to be offended in these cases as responsible petrolheads. Excessive speeding in traffic, cutting people off, not using indicators, being on the phone, throwing thrash on the street, tailgating, they are rage-inducing offences, but should you decide to step up and do something about it, the law will always have your back.
However, unfortunately, things are not always so straightforward. There are certain forms of driving behavior, which do not break the law, but are really up there with the aforementioned heavily criminalised ones in terms of danger and stupidity. These practices are the automotive equivalent of your Mom telling you not to poke your little brother anymore, so you hover your index finger as close as you can to him, without actually touching him, with a smug grin on your face. Yes, technically you are not offending, but by God is it annoying!
Keeping an inconsistent following distance
Now, of course, people who go up straight to your bumper, as in the Audi stereotype, because they think it will make traffic magically flow faster, or intimidate you into another lane, are the worst. Still, coming in at a close number two are people who are incapable of keeping a constant, optimal following distance. They really drop back when traffic picks up pace because they don't concentrate, and then once they locate the fast pedal, enthusiastically fly right up your bum. Or if traffic slows down, and you have to brake, they damn near hit you, and you can see their car tilting forward violently as they slam on the brakes. All the while you can keep a civil distance from the car in front of you by gently applying throttle, brakes, or just coasting. This form of driving is especially unnerving, because it shows you that this driver is either distracted, or possesses very poor skills, but in any case, you really don’t feel safe being in front of them, and you check your mirror constantly to avoid a potential accident.
An illustration on how one of these drivers changes their following distance over the course of a minute.
Cheating a way into a turning lane by cutting the line
Again, unfortunately, lane changes, when properly indicated, are perfectly legal, even if they just so happen to take a vehicle to the very front of a 30+ car line, in which drivers have been waiting patiently for several minutes for their tiny little 10 second opening to get across a busy intersection. When some self-important jerk does this, there is added stress in the equation, as they usually block an entire straight lane, holding up traffic. (This is probably the only point where they could be ticketed for holding up traffic, but the whole ordeal is usually over in a few seconds, so it's unlikely) Now, the jerk, thick-skinned by nature, won’t care, but a human being with empathy, waiting in the turning lane, will understand the plight of drivers just wanting to get across the light going straight, and let them in. It's a lose-lose situation, if you don't let the idiot in, they will just sit there blocking a lane, with people trying to get out from behind them, so you punish these people, but if you let him or her in, you encourage this behaviour. It's a bit like the tipping culture in the USA, if you know what I mean.
Using merging or disappearing lanes to overtake
Okay, so, what do you do when you see the sign and road marking indicating that your lane will soon merge? If your answer is: "you check if there is ample space in the lane that goes on, and if there is, you merge. If there isn’t, you lift off the throttle, your indicator clicking away, and you wait for a kind person to let you in, all well in advance of your lane disappearing.", then congratulations, you are a well-behaved person. What do some people do? Floor it! Go as fast as they can until the very end of the road, to cut in front of as many cars as possible, who, like decent human beings, have already made the merge. Even worse, some drivers actively come out into these lanes, and treat them like a speed boost arrow in a video game, where they speed up, and cut back into traffic a few cars ahead. Now, making full use of the merging lane I get, the longer the length of the two lines of cars side by side, the more merges can happen one behind the other, but there is no excuse for this behaviour.
Leaving a car at a petrol pump while doing the weekly shopping or dining in
This is a famous one. Most petrol stations nowadays also act as small shops, and offer fast food items and drinks. Gifts, food, drinks, car accessories, a hot dog, coffee, you can buy many things here and that's jolly useful for the weary traveler. Now, in Hungary, where I live, petrol stations are luckily significantly more expensive than regular grocery stores, which deters most people from doing any serious shopping in them. However, some weird individuals do go shopping, and I mean SHOPPING in there, not just grabbing something off a shelf, or better yet, enjoy a cup of coffe with cake and a weekly dose of gossip, consumed with the urgency of a death row inmate munching his last meal. All the while they leave their car at the pump, and especially at a busy hour, it is a serious jerk move! Lines build up to the pumps, other drivers expect them to come out any second now, assuming they are just paying for petrol. People lose time and get annoyed, just because the shoppers and diners couldn’t be bothered to repark their car once they are done filling up, if they even filled up at all. Seriously, just park your car a few metres away, most stations have parking spots for customers, and then browse all the expensive crap you want, just show some degree of empathy towards drivers who just want to fill up and leave!
So, these are the not illegal, but infuriating driving habits that I despise the most. What is your opinion about these? What would you add to the list? Tell me in the comments. “Be the change you want to see in the world” as the saying - apparently misattributed to Gandhi - goes, so let us try to be kind and respectful drivers on the roads together.