By on March 21, 2016

Driver's Life Driving Matters Campaign Mazda

Drivers afraid to be behind the wheel are a misunderstood threat to road safety. Fearful driving often leads to excessive caution masquerading as politeness. Resulting behaviors may appear benign, when in fact they can be grave.

For example, arriving first at a four-way stop but waving others through creates confusion for other road users. Cynthia Lewellen, an Oregon cyclist, was hit by a motorist last year after a well-intentioned driver waved Juan Carlos Garcia through an intersection in advance of the appropriate right-first sequence. The approbative driver may not have been acting out of the timidity of fear, but the point is in the danger of this driver’s behavior. Garcia’s F-250 struck Lewellen fracturing her pelvis, shoulder, ribs, sacrum, and tailbone.

Ill advised signaling, poor lane choice, and misplaced courtesy put other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Psychologists have long understood the challenge posed by a fear of driving, which at the extreme can be exhibited as panic attacks and freezing. Fearful drivers also demonstrate less catastrophic symptoms, such as confusion and disorientation. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) codifies driving disorders; specifically, Diagnostic Code 300.29, Specific Phobia, Driving Type. Mental health specialists have gone further by defining a variety of driving related phobias – vehophobia, amaxophobia, hamaxophobia, ochophobia, dystychiphobia, and motorphobia.

As with most psychological conditions, people experience driving-related phobias on a spectrum. The most egregiously afflicted rarely take to the road, whereas those with less severe phobic traits drive daily. Some fearful drivers seek help and there are effective therapies. Multiple self-help books have been published on the topic. The most significant danger to road safety is from the millions of daily drivers on the phobic spectrum. These people either do not recognize their condition or do not believe their anxiety is a danger to others.

A variety of factors can contribute to a fear of driving. A traumatizing incident can be a trigger, as can growing up in an auto-free environment. Here is how one fearful driver expressed her experience.

I just cannot handle how much power I have to literally kill someone at a moment’s notice when I’m in the car. Not because I’m some sort of Dexter-style psychopath … My body is tense. My brain is confused. I don’t trust myself that I’m good at this. I can convince myself into doing it, but it doesn’t ever seem like it could be second nature like it is for some people,” said Kate Dries, Managing Editor at Gawker Media, in 2013.

The remedy is not entirely clear, but a measure of tolerance, patience, and distance among other drivers would be healthy (I’m pointing a finger at myself here).

But what are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for highway Safety (IIHS) doing about fearful driving?

Nothing.

Fearful driving is not acknowledged as a causal factor in traffic accidents. In 2008, the NHTSA delivered the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey to Congress. The exhaustive three-year study sampled 5,471 light vehicles crashes nationwide, with a focus on the factors related to pre-crash events. More than 600 data points were collected for each crash capturing driver, vehicle, roadway, and environmental conditions. The report attributed 33 percent of driver-related critical reasons for accidents to decision errors. A decision error is a catch-all category including false assumptions of others’ actions, illegal maneuvers, misjudgment of gap and speed, etc. Some of these decision errors are likely the result of fearful, timid, anxious driving. However, there is no mention of fear or phobia within the report’s 47 pages. Panic is discussed as a pre-crash performance attribute, but not as a causal factor.

The Auto Insurance Center, an independent news and information source for consumers, conducted a study using NHTSA data. It found that between 2009 and 2013 the second most common accident inducing behavior on American roads was failing to yield the right-of-way. They make no mention of fear, but other top-ten causes included failure to keep in proper lane, over correction, and improper turns. All drivers are capable of these mistakes, but fearful driving exacerbates poor decision making and contributes to dangerous behaviors. The mainstream mental health community has identified the danger of fearful driving and developed therapies. The road safety establishment has yet to acknowledge the danger.

Traveling by car has become dramatically safer. Over the last five decades, proper lighting, collapsible steering wheels, anti-lock brakes, and other advances have helped steadily reduce deaths per million miles traveled. Additional improvements such as lane-departure warning and automated braking systems will continue to reduce the threat drivers pose. And other high-profile dangers remain, such as in-car distraction, fatigue, and substance abuse. However, the presence of other legitimate risk factors along with ever-improving vehicle safety do not mean the risk of fearful driving should be dismissed. The driving environment is becoming more dense and complex, elevating anxiety among those already fearful when taking the wheel. The road safety establishment needs to study and address fearful driving as a legitimate factor in traffic safety.

The 2008 NHTSA study determined that 94 percent of accidents are caused by drivers. Other studies have reached similar conclusions – people cause car accidents. Fearful drivers do not respond well amid confident, decisive drivers and are part of the road safety equation. They are the greatest ignored danger on the road today.

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180 Comments on “Fearful Drivers are the Greatest Ignored Danger on the Road...”


  • avatar

    One of my employees used to have a VW Tiguan. She upgraded to a GLC 300 (really nice).

    She takes the local road 16 miles round trip to the office because She’s afraid of highway driving.

    Only 37 Years old…

    One of my X’es was horribly slow about changing lanes. She’d make overly-long neck movements to check the blind spots and unlike me: never apply full throttle to clear her blindspots by simply “driving away from them”.

    Fearful drivers simply need to stay in the middle of the road or the right hand side as they want to exit. Leave the left-most lane to the professionals (like myself).

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      My soon to be mother-in-law and all of her sisters won’t take the highway for any reason. I tell it actually the safest place to travel at speed as everyone is going the same direction and separated by a cement divider. The intersections are one of the most dangerous to to cross and oncoming traffic.

      Of course she drives a 2002 Avalon with 135,000 miles and I point out to her the Toyota’s with the banged and scratched bumpers, mostly from indecisive drivers.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’m also in favor of driving competency tests, say every 5-8 years or so. It needs to be harder to get and maintain a license. And there are a lot of old people on the roads who don’t need to be there.

        • 0 avatar

          Fees, fines and accidents all mean more money for the state. INCLUSION makes the state wealthier. They’ll never make it harder to drive…

          Even when you get a license suspension – YOU CAN STILL DRIVE lol

          You get a restricted permit. (Don’t ask how I know).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Booo. Well, the fines thing is a good idea, even if it funds the state. Those funds should only go into road repair.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I agree to a large degree, but if we are going to yank all these people off the road there need to be viable transportation alternatives for them. Chalk up another win for automated cars + ride sharing programs.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “I’m also in favor of driving competency tests, say every 5-8 years or so. It needs to be harder to get and maintain a license. And there are a lot of old people on the roads who don’t need to be there.”

          While I agree with the overall sentiment, I fully disagree with one statement: “It needs to be harder to … maintain a license.” Rather, that needs clarification. I do agree that ALL drivers need to take a road test every time they renew their license. I also believe they should be allowed multiple attempts as necessary, just as some states do today. BUT… don’t make it harder on any one group; it should be equally difficult across the board.

          On the other hand, the time is coming–perhaps not soon enough–that people will not be allowed to drive their own vehicles except under very specific circumstances. The problem is not just the people who are afraid to drive but also those who are overconfident and perform stupid maneuvers in traffic due to simple inattentiveness or in some cases flat-out racing. You combine those two groups with the majority of ‘competent’ drivers and you have the makings for what we see every day on the roads; bottlenecks for no apparent reason and far too many crashes by people not even involved otherwise.

          Someone afraid to drive is often too slow and too hesitant about their maneuvers; they’re very obvious. Courtesy is NOT an indicator of any fear of driving. Someone who is overconfident will take unnecessary chances and are typically in far too much of a hurry to drive sensibly. Just last night I watched an example of two such people on a wet highway as one forced a merge in a space barely large enough for their car despite someone tailgating (or nearly so at 2 car lengths running 70mph on wet roads with wet snow falling) because of a slower car almost 100 feet in front of the one who forced the merge. Very nearly a crash as the one forcing the merge realized too late just how close the one in his blind spot was and swerved back into his former lane, only to then push right back over and force the tailgater to brake. Fortunately there was nobody tailgating that one.

          Oh yes. I see idiocy on the roads every day. My wife fears the interstate because of this obvious insanity, far more willing to face the more dangerous intersections because the speeds are inherently slower and her tiny car has an agility advantage. At speed, that little car is almost too agile and could be easy to over control in an emergency situation (I was driving it when I witnessed the above.)

          So yes. Driving tests for all–with EVERY license renewal. What I believe you’ll discover is far fewer idiots as they fail their tests more often than the ‘fearful’ ones.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “And there are a lot of old people on the roads who don’t need to be there.”

          Where can I get a Corey Pass? I still gotta drive to work and occasionally buy food.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Here in Oklahoma, there are quite a few left exits. But people going at or below the speed limit will start queuing up for the left-lane exit several miles out, especially the I-44 southbound – I-40 eastbound exit.

      That said, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even get upset with left-lane squatters anymore, because they usually don’t pose an immediate danger to me. I do get upset at people in oversized vehicles who drive aggressively by tailgating for no reason, making inappropriately-close lane changes, and nearly crashing into people trying to prove the strength of their umpteen liters of V8-whatever.

      • 0 avatar

        I do my best never to tailgait.
        I haven’t had any rear-end collisions in a looooong time.

        5 Year good Driver Discount from Geico

        Holla!

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I haven’t stuck with one insurance company long enough to realize a good driver discount. I just switched to USAA last July, at a significant savings and gain in coverage.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have been happy with Allstate these past few years. They offer a good discount for bundling, and beat every other offer I received on insurance save for Progressive – which is one of those “intro rate” companies.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I had Allstate prior to USAA. They were very…creative with my six-month premiums.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Up and down lots, or? Mine go up annually by maybe $4-8 for 6 months.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “… switched to USAA”

            I highly recommend USAA for those who can qualify.

            In fact, I highly recommend USAA for ALL their services including car-buying, mortgages, checking, savings, insurances, et al. I currently use several of them.

            I joined the day USAA accepted Senior Non-Commissioned Officers as members.

            Been with them ever since and NEVER had a bad experience with ANY of their services.

            My sons were Commissioned Officers and they are members, and so is the husband of my grand daughter, a young Captain in the USAF.

            I can’t imagine ever going back to any of the other insurance companies, some being worse than others if you ever have a loss.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            USAA started out by catering to military officers. Oddly enough, the mainstream insurers didn’t want to deal with military officers, because they transferred often, and had to be dealt with remotely.

            This built into the USAA business model 2 huge and unique benefits. Firstly, military officers tend to be good risks; they know that doing something stupid can get you killed, and have seen too many buddies die to take a dumb chance trying to get home 2 minutes early.

            The second advantage is that remote business model, which means USAA doesn’t need expensive agents in every town to sell or service policies.

            In insurance, when you have an advantage, it is self reinforcing. Low losses means you can keep prices low, which attracts more of the right customers, who in turn have few losses. And it means that when policyholders *do* have losses, you can be generous in taking care of them, which builds long term loyalty.

            Long way of saying USAA is brilliant.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            @highdesertcat

            Agreed on USAA as a quality insurer. I’ve had more than my fair share of accidents in the past decade (only one was my fault) but thankfully/luckily living in primarily military areas, literally everyone who has hit me has also had USAA. The repair process was always painless, enterprise did their thing, and it’s been an easy, transparent experience every time.

            They were competitive for homeowners insurance, replaced my USNA ring of mine that was stolen at a party with no questions asked (valuable personal property ins.), gave me the lowest fees of any 529 I looked at for my son, and beat every other lender I looked at for my latest car loan by half a point. The only service they didn’t win from me was my mortgage because they wanted more points up front. On top of that, the customer service is top notch.

            I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone if you have the means to become a member.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            @ highdesertcat

            ‘highly recommend USAA for those who can qualify.”

            I hear they are great but holy hell what a pain in the arse if your on the other side.

            December 7th was the day a numbskull plowed into the front of my 2015 GT and he was insured by USAA and I’m still getting notices from my insurance company that they are ready to subrogate the damages and they are still getting notices from USAA that the accident is under investigation and this despite the officer issuing a reckless driving ticket to the other driver for being so far into my lane when they hit me head on.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            raph, I’ve heard that USAA is slow in paying out when “you’re on the other side” with a claim against them.

            I’m only guessing here, but I believe that USAA insists on a thorough investigation on their behalf because of all the “staged accidents” that the car insurance industry was plagued with.

            At least that’s what my USAA agent told me, years ago, when someone (another USAA member) backed into my wife’s Towncar at her doctor’s office.

            There was no delay with our claim and a rep drove down (from somewhere), looked at the trunk lid of the Towncar, told us which body shop to take it to in town, and she got a new trunk lid and bumper cover, all in four days.

            I insisted on keeping the old dented trunk lid and sold it to a junk yard for $50 after we sold the Towncar.

            For her misfortune, USAA provided my wife a rental Highlander at the body shop (from Enterprise IIRC) and that’s how we ended up buying a 2008 Highlander. She liked the rental Highlander, a bunch.

            The rest is history.

            In our case no money ever exchanged hands. Enterprise dropped off the rental at the body shop. It was a great experience. Painless.

            That said, neither my wife nor I have ever been in a collision or accident. So we never had a claim filed against us or our USAA coverage.

            But based on the reputation of USAA, they will pay out if they find it to be a valid claim.

            (The caveat being, I heard a story from an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton who was involved in a collision, and found to be at fault. The investigation by USAA revealed that the person he hit was not insured himself, was driving someone else’s car, the car’s registration was not paid up, and the owner of the car was not insured and in the US illegally. USAA did not pay out.)

            Draw your own conclusions.

          • 0 avatar
            econobiker

            And USAA insures in difficult insurance states like NJ, NY, etc

            In the mid 1990s, I had one insurance company drop me after 5 years 2 cars no claims because I moved from AL to NJ for work. Called up to change address and the other company said “See you later we don’t do business in NJ so go seach a phone book for a new company.” I got into USAA via my father who had been a member since the 1970s and have been with USAA since.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            NJ, NY, FL, and CA are all difficult business states for insurance. It’s easier to opt out of doing business in those states (depending on what type of insurance we’re talking) than to bother with state regulation hurdles.

            NY is the worst by far for insurance regulation.

      • 0 avatar
        Lex

        I thought the lane hogging issue was bad in my 5 years in OK but nothing rivals the gross incompetence of Indiana drivers, something that is frther exacerbated by the sheer magnitude of tractor trailers traffic on I-65.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “I just cannot handle how much power I have to literally kill someone at a moment’s notice”

    This is a bad thing? MOAR POWER!

    • 0 avatar

      When you’re driving around in 4000 – 5000 pound cars that can do 0 – 60 in less than 4 seconds, you often think to yourself:

      JESUS CHRIST – THIS THING SHOULDN’T EXIST…

      What HELL hath we wrought?

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Every day I wish for more power and less joggers and bicyclists.

      • 0 avatar

        Every bicycle is one less car on the road. You ought to thank them.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          In my experience, bicyclists are less attentive than drivers…

          Especially the packs of elderly bicyclists.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “Every bicycle is one less car on the road”

          Replaced by one or more bicycles in the middle of a car lane clogging traffic, ignoring stop signs and generally raising everyone’s blood pressure because no matter how satisfying mashing one of their riders into a juicy Spandex breakfast wrap might be, it’s never defensible in any jurisdiction where bicycles proliferate.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            And then there’s the joggers who jog in the street…next to a sidewalk.

            Unless that sidewalk is as smooth as Mick Jagger’s face, there’s zero excuse for that.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I will say, as a sometimes runner, that running on the sidewalk is usually a bad idea. Sidewalks have crap all over them, from raised bits and cracks to rocks, hoses, and children’s toys, tree limbs, encroachments from shrubs, and people backing from garages.

            That being said, when I do run I go into a subdivision and run around, and I might see three moving cars the whole time. Running on main roads inconveniences all drivers and creates issues.

          • 0 avatar
            Frylock350

            @RideHeight,

            Your post made my day; summarizes my experiences with bicyclists perfectly. They seem to think that stop signs are polite suggestions. They also think that red lights only apply to cars and that passing cars on the left whilst being in the leftmost lane attempting to turn left is cool. This behavior is far more terrifying on foot than in a car. A stop sign blowing bike slamming into you in the crosswalk is going to do some serious damage.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Frylock,
            Yes, a bicyclist passing you on the side toward which you’re turning in spite of your indicators (did I get that right?) having been on thus fully warning them is one of those death-wish things they do that are SO hard to not grant them.

            Bicyclists only add one more type of moving hazard/obstacle/risk to an already dangerous environment.

            As pedestrians, I once had to pull my wife out of the path of a bicyclist she didn’t see ignoring both her presence and the stop sign for his lane as he flashed by us. Had I been able to lay hands on him I’d now have a criminal record.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            The best reason for avoiding sidewalks is that nothing puts a greater impact on your joints than solid concrete.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          “Every bicycle is one less car on the road. You ought to thank them.”

          That supposes that cyclists are riding to get to their destination instead of driving their car. That may be true in the city, where I drive approximately never, but in the suburbs on outwards literally 99% of them have no destination and are using the road as a gym.

          Where’s a drunken illegal in an F-250 when you really need one?

      • 0 avatar
        carlisimo

        I find cyclists and joggers much, much easier to get past than slow drivers.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    My mom has this in certain circumstances. Normally she’s fine, albeit a bit too speedy. But she’s not no sense of direction, and it makes her panic. Send her into a part of town she hasn’t been to before? Might as well be downtown Kabul.

    We’re lost!
    Oh my god!
    What is going on!
    Where are we?

    I suggested she drive to a part of town she’s unfamiliar with, in order to help me pick up some furniture this past Saturday with her Highlander.

    “So what time does your dad want to drive up?”
    “He’s not coming, it’s just you.”
    -Louder then- “That’s crazy!”

    Ugh.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Lol. We were on an trip to Denver and we took my ’14 Jetta SportWagen. Mom—who I’d previously thought was a conservative, if prudent, driver—wanted to get there quickly, so she had the damn thing doing 120 MPH on I-70. I was surprised the car was able to hold that speed effortlessly and comfortably.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Here’s one more symptom: failure to merge at the speed of traffic. This causes other drivers (often fully-loaded trucks) to take avoidance action. Could be solved overnight by restricting Corollas and Buicks from highways.

    My coping strategy for the wave-through is to wave back. Takes them a while to catch-on, but they eventually take their right of way.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I propose minimum speed cameras at highway entry ramps. Oh, you wanna do 48 merging with people doing 70? That’ll be $100.

      People do that here constantly, and it causes traffic jams every single day. You’re entering a highway, get your @ss in gear.

    • 0 avatar

      What about: INABILITY to merge at the speed of traffic?

      These pathetic, slow 4-cylinder econoboxes without the benefit of a turbo…

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Bigtruck, don’t be ridiculous. Most cars—including very conservatively-powered vehicles like the Chevy Spark, in my experience—are more than capable of getting up to speed on a highway on-ramp. You don’t need a Hellcat for that. Your ire lies with the drivers of the vehicles, not the vehicles themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I had no issues merging into fast moving traffic from short to non-existent uphill onramps in my 54hp Peugeot 504 diesel with the A/C on. Put your GD foot to the floor and grow a pair!

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        There hasn’t been a single car for sale in the US in the last twenty years that can’t merge at the speed of traffic.

        Source: Spent several years driving transit buses, vehicles that ACTUALLY can’t merge at the speed of traffic, for a living. Guess what: almost all people see you, and they adjust. Once in a while someone stupid rear-ends a merging bus. The bus usually needs a new bumper cap.

      • 0 avatar

        Bigtruck, there is NO modern car that isn’t equipped with enough HP to do this. My mother’s 2008 Civic is more than capable or rising to the challenge and its only got 148HP. Don’t give the people that excuse.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Every BTSR comment is incomplete without bragging in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that his FCA POS has a big engine.

          Just tell him how impressed you are and he’ll move on.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        One of the clovers in my area had a pretty good solution for the merging at speed issue motorist typically pose on short ramps. The merge lane is very generous, I’d say a minimum of a quarter mile as it starts behind a barrier with plenty of time to get up to speed.

        Even a damn diesel Vanagon running on two cylinders stuck in high gear could get up to speed but the bastards just take their time and still merge at slower than the posted limit.

        IMO the state should post minimum speed signs saying “you MUST be travelling at this speed HERE” posted every 200 feet or some such along the merge lane.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          I’ve actually seen, on a PERFECTLY STRAIGHT acceleration lane, mergers tap their brakes while still about 20mph under the posted speed limit and with zero traffic in the travel lane to which they are about to merge. I confess that I downshifted and passed that idiot on the shoulder of the acceleration lane.

          When it comes to stupid drivers like that, I didn’t give up road rage for Lent, not this year and not any year.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I would recommend all drivers watch the Disney movie short, “Goofy’s Freeway Troubles.” As old as it is, the things covered are still valid; more so now than it was even then.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I gave up giving up things for Lent years ago, but….

            Just this morning, I was behind an S-15 doing all of 40mph whilst merging onto NB I-75, and unlike most times when I would activate my hazards to warn traffic, I had the Buick Encore behind me who I had followed past the nearby Jr. High School doing all of ** 15mph ** in the f***ing 20mph school zone (after school had started, with no constabulary around), foiling my adaptive cruise which cuts off at 22mph, and which is more of a Godsend around town, where it is usually set at 5 over, since the ONLY law Northwest Ohio drivers seem to follow is the underposted numbers on a sign; I think if the State of Ohio placed a sign somewhere in the Toledo area stating “Jump Off This Bridge,” suicides would skyrocket! (No, I didn’t PASS this person, but I admit doing this in the past, and have followed OTHER DRIVERS doing the same! There’s a side road that meets the main road out to I-75 prior to the road where the school sits, and where the traffic jam from parents dropping off their kids can add * 10 minutes * to my commute, so the shortcut gets one around the line, rather than sitting in that traffic for another five+ minutes; the road by the school is a single lane of traffic with a turn lane in the middle, my street is 0.2 miles from the school, and it’s another half-mile to I-75, normally less than two minutes to drive. Spring Break is next week, so I’ll have it easy! Our superintendent, normally a good guy, moved the start of school forward ten minutes a couple years back, to give the little hellions more sleep — 10 minutes ain’t gonna make a dime’s worth of difference, except to muck up lots of commuters! You might correctly surmise I’m not a morning person!)

            Fortunately there was a gap in traffic enough for me to crack the whip and get around the idiot in the pickup (bless my Accord V6s wall of torque), complete with a horn blast and single-digit salute! As much as I hate the “morality police” in the left lane (where I sometimes wish I could do PIT maneuvers with no damage to any vehicles without penalty, particularly when someone pulls out seemingly to deliberately slow down the left lane, and where no amount of signal-flashing, horn-blowing-’till-it-burns-out, or “flash-to-pass”-ing will stop the self-righteon from being judge and jury of their own impromptu traffic court), the idiots who can’t merge fuel my “road angst” the most! Thankfully, through anger-management and other therapies, I’m MUCH calmer about it. But when things are “just right” I still end up in a pi$$y mood behind the wheel. (And no, not full-on RAGE!) This morning was one of those times! (Worst thing this morning was darting around clumps of traffic a little more than usual.)

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            @sgeffe

            I’ll never understand why some schools got built to open up on a busy street. Make the access to a side street, fence off the access to the busy street, and voila! No speed zone and everybody is safer.

            Also, I am morally opposed to any school speed zones for high schools (jr high and below, well, OK). The graduating class is old enough to get a job, join the military, and have grownup expectations. Therefore the younger classes ought to be able to accomplish basic kid tasks like tying their shoes, pulling their pants up, and looking both ways before they cross the street.

            Actually driving 15mph through a school zone is excessively slow. With some effort, those kids could exceed that on a bicycle and probably a few of them running a sprint, too. Well, maybe not the video game addicted fatties pouring themselves out of their soccer mom/helicopter parent SUVs on your side road out to I75.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            How’s this for the opposite of “hot and fast delivery?” Several years ago, I was trundling along behind a pizza driver hewing to the underposted 25mph “non-school” limit as if a cop himself was on his tail, and not a civilian.

            While riding my brakes and cursing aloud, I noticed something off to my right: a kid on a bike was indeed passing our little procession on the sidewalk.

            Ohio’s bad enough: I suppose in New York State, you might as well get out and push! Theirs IS 15mph!

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      Not this Buick driver. When merging, I squeeze the torque out of my 3800.

    • 0 avatar
      Coopdeville

      From what I’ve seen, inability of the average driver to merge properly has caused all the trucks to occupy the middle lane (or 2nd right lane on 4 lane.) None of them drive in the far right lane anymore unless it’s a rural area.

      This causes the faster slow trucks to occupy the third lane, which leaves the 4th for passing. But then because even slightly faster slow trucks then use the 4th lane to pass the trucks in the 2nd and 3rd lanes. End result, the 1st lane is oftentimes completely empty on my morning commute, while the 4th (passing) is clogged solid. That means the people late for work (and all S-Class Mercs) who want to go 95 use the 1st lane now. It’s really a great system.

      • 0 avatar

        I do a lot of driving between Boston and DC. I see this a lot especially in Maryland (and I take advantage of it when I want to go fast).

      • 0 avatar
        Cactuar

        The problem is that some people have never fully depressed either gas or brake pedals before. I’m sure they think they will break the car if they push it too hard. But when you’re merging, you NEED to push that 4-cylinder hard. Noise and downshifting isn’t a bad thing. Same for breaking, your foot needs to go to the floor in an emergency. People are generally too timid with their vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Sooo much this! People who STOP at the end of onramps just need to be summarily executed. Nearly got an idiot with my Rover doing this yesterday. And there was no traffic!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        This morning I got cut off by a driver in a new X5, who decided to go straight from a left turn lane. Just came right over in front of me, like hey NBD. Not even a signal. Would’ve rear ended him if I didn’t jab the brakes.

        https:[email protected],-84.3650887,3a,75y,99.61h,70.69t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sNWda7zepToX5y2Zh7zFF2Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

        Drove straight into the yellow area there, then cut right over.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      This is the worst. Nearly every scary situation I’ve been in over the last several years has been caused by someone merging on to the Interstate at 35-40 MPH, wherein I nearly get crushed by a truck or other vehicle.

      I see it also with excessive politeness, deferring to others at 4 way stops and letting people out to take a left at inappropriate times (like when people are going around you on the right). There is a left turn lane on a road near my house and people turning left will waive in those taking a left into the road they are on, even though people are continuing straight behind them at 40 MPH, and those people pulling out can’t see them.

      • 0 avatar

        As a pedestrian living in a pretty dense urban area (i.e., tonnes of pedestrians everywhere), I’m constantly annoyed when cars stop randomly to let me walk across something I don’t have right-of-way to do as a pedestrian (say, across a street mid-block). No, you imbecile, not only are you being annoying, you’re being dangerous and it is far more energy efficient for me to continuing waiting for you to pass than for you to stop your 2-tonne vehicle. Argh.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Similar to this: several years ago, I was entering SB I-75 from Downtown Toledo at evening rush, back when there were two lanes on the ramp, one of which merged into the center lane while the left became the third lane to cross the Maumee River. The speed limit of traffic on the major arterial from which this ramp veers is 50mph, and the art of sticking to that speed while merging onto the 60mph-limited freeway is a pandemic even today, made worse by the fact that there’s only ONE lane now — that center merge was eliminated years ago. (The best case scenario is when you end up at the front of the line at the last street out of downtown so you can merge at the freeway flow as God and Henry Ford (or Soichiro Honda, in my case) intended!)

        Anyway, I was in the “faster” of the two lanes (51 vs. 50mph) going up this ramp on the right. Looked to my right, everything’s clear in the center, traffic right and next to me on my left, so I was stuck. In my rear view, though, was an oncoming semi whose driver wasn’t paying attention to what was happening!! Fortunately nothing happened, but not before that driver locked all 18, and started the trailer waving like a flag!

        After that close call, I made it a point to always put my hazards on if traffic forces me to go below the posted limit, and I’m sure that’s saved my butt more than a few times!

  • avatar
    tonyola

    After he retired from the Forest Service (as a bush pilot, no less), my oldest brother got a CDL and applied for a job with Minneapolis Metro Transit as a bus driver. During the driving test, he scored points for safety but he didn’t get the job because he wasn’t aggressive enough.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    This article needs a re-write. It opens with an anecdote that is openly admitted to not actually have any concrete evidence to support the thesis besides a poor decision at a 4-way stop, and then goes downhill from there.

    We have several paragraphs of “Some people are afraid of cars, and there’s no studies on how this affects traffic accidents.” We then get a listing of a bunch of phobias, most of which appear to be synonyms of each other (and only one of which mentions driving, vs. riding, in a car) And somehow the article manages reaches the conclusion of “They are the greatest ignored danger on the road today.” If we don’t have any statistics of any sort (even bad ones) on the contribution of phobias, how can you possibly make this assertion?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      This article offers the sort of wishful thinking that enthusiasts really want to believe. The fact that it’s a pile of baseless assertions won’t matter one whit.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      As soon as I saw the article’s title, I knew we were going to be treated to baloney. Sure enough, that’s what we got, and of course we’ll probably have 200 comments within 24 hours mostly agreeing with the article’s flimsy premise.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I agree. I just skimmed it after the paragraph about the collision between the truck and cyclist. It’s not the timid driver’s fault that the truck driver isn’t paying attention.

      Blame the slow and fearful drivers all you want for being the annoyance that they are, but you can’t blame them if their actions result in you doing something stupid.

  • avatar
    JimInRadfordVA

    I have seen this manifested as timid drivers. They do not do anything with decisiveness: half-hearted entry onto the motorway, driving slower than surrounding traffic, single-mindedness, etc.

    It’s tough trying to teach them to drive assertively. (Not aggressively – that’s my job.)

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    We call them the “wheel-clutchers”.

    White knuckles on the hands locked in a death grip at 11 and 1 o’clock on the steering wheel, forearms braced against the bottom of the wheel in anticipation of the impact that is surely coming at any moment, head and eyes staring straight ahead awaiting the certain supernatural appearance of a deadly object. Meanwhile the speedometer is ignored as it ticks along at half the speed limit, the rearview mirror might as well be absent, the side mirrors too – although they’re aimed at the body of the car so wouldn’t help anyway except to confirm that, yes, the car the driver is “driving” actually still exists and has not been swept up in the rapture just yet.

    Passing is the worst: if said driver winds up next to, say, a loaded semi on an uphill, the inevitable course of action is to precisely match the truck’s speed so that the terrifying situation of being near a large and frightening object is drawn out for as long as possible, because ‘passing is dangerous’. Meanwhile, traffic backs up as far as the eye can see, not that the wheel-clutcher will notice.

    That’s right, folks, one in ten American drivers is a fucking zombie. Check ’em out the next time you are on an Interstate cruise. And if you get a chance, take off their heads with a sword or skewer them with a pike. Put them out of their misery. The world will be a better place for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t see this as nearly as widespread of a problem as you do (1 in 10?) but your rhetoric was hilarious. It would make a good public-safety ad.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Can I get an “Amen???”

      Will not forget a few years back in a moderate snowstorm going around a cloverleaf onramp behind an AWD Kia Sportage doing all of **** 5mph!!! ****

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “Fearful driving is not acknowledged as a causal factor in traffic accidents”

    The reason that you can’t find a traffic study that supports your thesis is because your thesis is crap.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      Yep, another answer to a question that no one asked. In any case I’m pretty sure that “fearful driving” as a “causal factor” is much less of a concern than the condition commonly known as “driving while being a raging a$$hole”.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Big Truck solves every problem with one of two words – Hellcat or Trump.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything is a nail.

    • 0 avatar

      If I ran on the same rhetoric I’d be number one in the polls.

      Can’t label me a racist because I can use MSNBC/CNN to fight my battles for me.

      The brainwashed liberals voting for skin color would take me in a heartbeat over Trump and Hillary so long as I claimed to be a liberal.

      As soon as I get into office I’d adopt HARD RIGHT policies.

      And I’d still win a second term simply because the same idiots voting the first time would vote me in again.

      I’d just promise more welfare handouts and to pay off their college tuition – knowing that’s never gonna happen – or at least Congress isn’t gonna do a $1.5 Trillion bailout.

      If anyone opposes me I’ll label them racist and then blame Bush.

      BLM would be my personal hit squad and just like Trump did to Graham – I’d be giving out my opposition’s addresses and phone numbers the moment they gave me a problem.

  • avatar
    skor

    My parents were refugees from Eastern Europe. My father was 30 years old before he got behind the wheel. He never was a competent driver. My mother never learned to drive. My father attempted to teach my mother how to drive, but it was hopeless, she was terrified. She blamed this on my dad’s teaching techniques, which could not be described as kid glove. Next she called a driving school, after the 2nd lesson, the driving instructor refused to come back. I tried to teach her when I was 18….hopeless, she was terrified, just could not relax behind the wheel. She wanted to pull over to the side of the road whenever another car got anywhere near her.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    Not so!

    The greatest danger on the road are those people who drive over the speed limit and think that those of us who drive in the slow lane and who do the posted limit are the ones ruining their day.

    I can tell you by brand the worst offenders – Honduh, Toyoduh, and now Mazduh owners the most self-righteous, arrogant and reckless drivers ever. They will tailgate for miles as if they are drafting – too lazy to pass in an otherwise open passing lane(s).

    I do find this amusing – for fun, I will set the speed limit to exactly the posted speed and just infuriate the jerks behind me – sometimes when I drive without the limit I’ll go one or two over, but the moment I get a rabid DUH owner trying to play games, I’ll make their days.

    Hyundai owners are now starting to challenge the DUH owners for third place.

    …Detroit refugees in foreign cars are like Wintel owners going to Apple – the idiots that can’t keep a virus off a Windows machine are the same ones who are getting them on Apple products.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Be sure to lean forward when you froth at the mouth, you might choke on your own bile otherwise.

    • 0 avatar

      I have never witnessed that phenomenon when driving in the slow lane. What part of the country are you in?

      Even when I’m going relatively fast I stay as far to the right as practical. I think it’s stupid to needlessly aggravate others on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Aaaand…you’re part of the problem. People do stupid things, but you have no business instigating them and starting trouble where there’d otherwise be none. These are 4,000-lb metal missiles, not toys.

      And that’s not to mention your ridiculous stereotyping.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      No one gives a flying jay if youre doing the speed limiy in the sloe lane. Youre not special and imagining things.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Laserwizard – You remind me of this moron I used to see every morning while going to work. He would get on the 70-MPH highway, turn on his hazard lights, and then set his cruise control for 45 MPH and stay in the right lane. I haven’t seen him in a long time so he must have been busted by the cops or retired from his job. I don’t know why he was so scared – he drove a big a$$ Chevy pickup.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “He would get on the 70-MPH highway, turn on his hazard lights, and then set his cruise control for 45 MPH and stay in the right lane.”

        I like that. How long did he get away with doing it?

        • 0 avatar
          S1L1SC

          Technically it is legal – minimum speed requirement on the interstate is 45mph. As long as he stays in the far right lane – obstructing traffic otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      You’re going to cause an accident by impeding the flow of traffic just so you can engage in passive-aggressive mental masturbation against people who own Japanese cars?

      Let’s all pitch in and get laserwizard a hooker. Lord knows he needs it.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        My standard line to anybody who tries to hold traffic court in the left lane: who the fuck do you think you are??!!

        Unless you have a gun and badge, or some other connection to an Almighty (nail marks would be a heckuva start), it’s not your damn job to enforce traffic laws!! Behavior like that WILL get you a ticket in Europe!! And above all, it’s damn rude!!!!

        I drive right and pass left whenever humanly possible! Also, per National Motorists Association guidelines, I will give a few flashes of my left signal behind someone before I go to flash-to-pass. Most of the time it does no good, but every so often, the driver will actually LOOK UP from their texting and pass the traffic.

  • avatar

    I’m inclined to agree with those critical of this article.

    We do have major timid driving problem in Cambridge Mass. I don’t know that it causes crashes–might even prevent them, but it’s very frustrating driving behind someone who’s going 18 miles an hour. It’s also frustrating when you’re one of several people behind someone who’s got the slows and then stops to let someone in, despite the fact that they’d only have had to wait five seconds to get onto the slightly larger road. Or who stops to wave a pedestrian to cross the street.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @David “someone who’s got the slows and then stops to let someone in”

      In some of those cases, it’s because they’re too timid to turn into the side street because they’re afraid they can’t clear the vehicle attempting to exit the side street. If it’s a school bus attempting to turn in, it’s justified. Cars are another story. It’s something we see more in our part of the country due to our European-like roads.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The lack of studies to back up the theory is a definite weakness.
    There can be no doubt, based on our own experiences as drivers, that the timid, anxious driver can cause accidents because their driving pattern is so different from everyone else’s. My mother, for example, would never drive over the speed limit (55) when everyone else in 5 lanes of traffic were driving at 70+. A rolling road block does not contribute to traffic safety.
    Overaggressive, inconsiderate and inattentive drivers are, in my opinion, much more likely to cause accidents… I guess we are just supposed to be afraid of everyone?

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      George Carlin’s routine was more poignant than most people realize:

      youtube.com/watch?v=XWPCE2tTLZQ

      The average driver regards himself as being above-average and views everyone else as the problem. The slower driver is an idiot and the faster driver is a maniac, while our own driving is ideal.

      Which is to say that there a lot of drivers who are entirely too self-confident and incapable of properly assessing their own inadequacies. Enthusiasts often belong to this category, since they are often quite proud of their own mediocre or below-average talents.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Pretty sure that traffic studies have confirmed that most accidents are caused by the slowest drivers on the road, followed distantly by the fastest. Here’s the pioneering reference, which fits well with the majority of crashes I have seen over the decades.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_curve

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You’ve misrepresented both the Solomon curve and its acceptance among traffic engineers.

        The Solomon curve does not claim that slow drivers are the most dangerous, but that speed variance is more hazardous than absolute speed. And that is not close to being a universally accepted view.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      For the past 6 months I’ve been on an extended tour of the US in a 27-foot airstream travel trailer pulled by a GMC pick up. As a matter of practice, I travel at a maximum sustained speed of 60, mostly because of the 65 mph speed rating of the trailer’s Goodyear tires. For that reason and because I’m not in a hurry, I usually avoid Interstates, especially in the west. What’s frustrating is that in California, I’m limited to 55 and I’ve heard that the CHP enforces this strictly on the not unfounded assumption that people like me are either incompetent as drivers or in setting up our rigs with the proper trailer brake settings or are overloaded or some combination of all three. So, I’m kind of a 50-foot rolling road block all on my own, and I wonder if everyone wouldn’t be safer if I could go 60 when the speed limit is 65 or 70 as seems to be common.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you’re in the right lane where you belong, then you aren’t interfering with anyone. Those of us who wish to travel more quickly are free to pass you on the left.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The truck lobby opposes variable speed limits and there is some research that supports their position. But ultimately, I would argue that reducing the braking distance requirements for heavy vehicles is sensible and keeping them in a lane away that is separated from faster traffic is a reasonable way of addressing the speed variance issue. Lane discipline for all involved would help with this.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            That is the major problem besides those who project their “morality” onto others: the utter lack of “drive right, pass left” enforcement!

            As I stated above, left-lane bandits get the tickets in Europe, not the ones who go at a reasonable speed for conditions (which is usually 5 to 7 over what the sign says).

            As I also said above, there would be a lot of dead sheeple in Northwest Ohio if the State would erect a traffic sign stating “Jump Off This Bridge!”

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is like a Jack troll post without the entertaining writing.

    Have I ever feared for my safety because of an overcautious driver? Maybe every year or two. Typically it happens when I’m behind someone who is merging onto a freeway at 20 mph. Just wait for an opening to their left, and drop the hammer until I’m at freeway speed (which, in any car I’ve owned in the last decade, doesn’t take long.)

    On the other hand, I fear for my safety every day because of distracted drivers and drivers who feel they are too important to abide by the rules. Crossing a street in the downtown of any major city is an exercise in hypervigilance; people think nothing of blowing red lights and will turn right on red without ever looking up from their phones. If we want to talk about dangers on the road, let’s talk about those people.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I see it all the time, people who seem to be afraid of their own cars. When I sold cars, I used to go on test drives with people who would hit the gas, hear the engine roar after the transmission downshifted, and exclaim “wow, that’s a lot of power!” Um, you took your foot right off the gas after hearing the engine, the car didn’t even get a chance to accelerate…

    You see the people with their seats as far forward as possible, leaning forward, death grip on the steering wheel. Just stay home!

    At this point, with both the timid drivers and reckless drivers all over the road, I try to just get in the lane I need to be in and stay there, keeping up with the prevailing speed and letting the chaos swirl around me.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    I’m a palsied, white-knuckled wreck every moment I’m in even residential traffic. I should have a yellow-flashing lightbar on my car.

    Of course, I’m an excellent driver.

  • avatar
    redav

    When on a bike, I absolutely hate timid drivers. They think they are polite, but they are actually just in the way & a nuisance. I don’t like overly aggressive drivers, either, but they are preferable because they are predictable.

    There are times I wait for drivers with right of way who just stop in the middle of the road. They don’t have a stop sign. They wave, flash their lights, and sometimes even honk, but I won’t put myself out there on a bike to get hit by the other driver going around them who can’t see me. I also have no interest in being in front of a car that is just going to immediately pass me, anyway.

    I found the simplest way to make them go is to turn and look the other way.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      +1. All I want when I’m on a bike is for people to leave 3 feet when passing and not turn directly in front of me. No special treatment required, and when people try it usually just screws up traffic.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I loath slow onramp mergers. Florida residents think its ok to merge at 35…die die die.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      It’s even worse when your towing something heavy. Now your shi$$$y driving just made me a hazard as well. Too bad if someone slams into the back of my boat because I just exited onto an interstate at 15 MPH that I won’t be able to catch you and make you pay for the accident you just caused.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Just a few days ago I had a semi pull out in front of me from a stop off the SHOULDER when I was boxed in at 75. I had to go onto the shoulder to avoid rear ending him. Shook me up pretty bad.

        The proper way to merge in that situation is to speed up on yhe shoulder until up to speed, blinker on the whole time and ease in. Every drivers ed teaches that. I dont know why a cdl holder would just pull out into 75 traffic…

        • 0 avatar
          sirwired

          Why would a huge truck just pull into highway-speed traffic while moving slowly? That one’s easy. Right of Tonnage says that other cars will do just about anything to avoid ramming into a huge truck.

          That, and the fact that drivers are paid by the mile and not the hour says that they’ll take a lot of risks to not sit by the shoulder waiting for things to slack off.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” Right of Tonnage says that other cars will do just about anything to avoid ramming into a huge truck.”

            Mea Culpa! Been guilty of it myself in 2014 when I got tired of waiting to be let in to the flow of traffic while driving a Ryder Tractor with a 40-ft Cattle Trailer for my son’s cattle business.

            I consider it a right that comes with my CDL.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            “Why would a huge truck just pull into highway-speed traffic while moving slowly? That one’s easy. Right of Tonnage says that other cars will do just about anything to avoid ramming into a huge truck.”

            Except that the last thing anyone that drives a truck for living needs to do is get into an accident. I guarantee you an experienced owner/operator with half a brain would never do something that stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “I dont know why a cdl holder would just pull out into 75 traffic…”

          Yep that sucks. Trucking is like every other profession. You got mostly the good ones and you got the few bad ones.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Lots of unwritten “opposite” rules in Floriduh. You make the best time the farther to the right you drive. You also make time by leapfrogging around the clogged left lane anytime there is enough room to pass one or more cars on the right. I don’t think of it as “aggressive” so much as “driving with a purpose.”

  • avatar
    George B

    My elderly parents attended a class to teach old people how to compensate for age-related driving problems. The best advice was to plan ahead for what lane they needed to be in to enter or exit the highway. Related advice was to choose the middle lane if you don’t know if you’ll need to go right or left and not to stress out about missing a turn. If you miss a turn or exit, go to the next intersection or exit and turn around.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      All goof advice. Another big one is trying to turn left from a side road stop sign onto a major road. Always turn right, go up to the light and do a u turn. Never sit there and block traffic.

      Usa needs to block more across traffic left turns, have more one ways, and more single lane round abouts. Our roads suck for traffic management.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    There has been several seasons of a show on TLC in Canada called “Canada’s Worst Driver”. Say what you want about reality TV, it shows what nervous drivers can be like. And the “follow along” drives done on real roads are somewhere between hillarious and scary. Specifically I am thinking of a lady who was afraid to turn left… She is a great example of how timid drivers can be a hazard… Would put off making a move until she was about to run out of space and then suddenly dart like a scared rabbit. Also known to stop at the end of an on-ramp.

    The stupid and agressive ones eventually learn their lesson and are allowed to go home. Most “winners” (last person left) on the show are generally just not skilled or coordinated enough to be driving.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    I don’t find these people to be much of an annoyance. Change lanes, pass, and move on with life (kinda like dealing with aggressive morons, change lanes let them pass and move on with life). I guess the world needs anti-BMW drivers so timid lightly used Camralon drivers it is (90% of the time I see a driver like this, its a few years old Avalon or Camry). Too timid is bad; too aggressive is bad. I’m sure some of these timid drives confuse their behavior with driving defensively.

    Drive defensively; but confidently. I merge when I intend to merge, turn when I intent to turn; but I’m still making safe smoother maneuvers with acceleration/speed appropriate to conditions. Ie when merging I will match the speed of the lane I’m merging into. I will then settle into whichever lane has a flow rate closest to my desired speed. That way I’m predictable and safe. So much of defensive driving is just being predictable to other drivers. Timid drivers are unpredictable and that can make them dangerous.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “But what are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for highway Safety (IIHS) doing about fearful driving?

    Nothing.”

    Well, would a strongly worded letter somehow be effective?

    The NHTSA and especially IIHS *can’t really do anything about it*.

    (I’m with upstream comments. This doesn’t seem to be that huge of a problem to me – I see a lot more normal incompetence than Terrified Phobic Driving.)

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’m surprised no one’s brought up the issue with roundabouts. As efficient as they can be, I dread them, because the car in front of me has a high likelihood of coming to a complete stop, even if there is no other traffic in the circle. Camry drivers seem especially terrified of traffic circles.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      I can’t imagine any road feature that cruelly exacerbates the declining acumen of aging drivers as much as roundabouts, especially multilane with numerous tangential entry and exit points. It’s simply vertigo in concrete. I speak from experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Too many Americans are unused to roundabouts and don’t know how to handle them. Quite literally, they’ve never been taught how to use them and think of them as a complex 4-way stop. That’s a matter of education, not fear per se. Signage needs to be clear that each approach is a Yield (some drivers still treat these as Stop) and the markers need to be clear during approach as to which road is on what exit. A 3- or 4-way is usually pretty obvious but more than that will cause confusion if they’re unfamiliar with the area.
        Again, education is the answer there.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          The concept of yielding is foreign to so many American drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          They’re totally new and strange with painted lines & arrows all over the place that vie for attention with the cars vectoring in on you from the sides while you’ve completely lost the spatial recognition you once had for the area because there’s often a nicely landscaped mound in the middle higher than your sightline and taller vehicles blocking the view to the right.

          Sometimes in heavy traffic full of other confused, path-crossing drivers I have to just squirt out the nearest exit lane and re-orient like a bird flung out of a tornado.

          Further, rather than the simple X-Y axis of the previous intersection the omniscient planners have often extended nearby access roads and other minor streets to tangentially connect with the roundabout thus giving additional points of potential impact when *those* confused participants blunder into the fray and try to grasp all the painted lines that look like someone went nuts with a Spirograph.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          According to PCH, all Americans understand how to use roundabouts and they never cause any problems at all.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Vulcans age slower and he’s probably fine driving them.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            According to PCH you say. Well, that seems to say it all in my opinion.

            Before I moved to Maryland from Tennessee I had never seen a roundabout anywhere. My first experience with one came just two miles north of the town to which I moved. Since then I have driven roundabouts (and worse) in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and New York, though many of those are practically brand new for their areas and my new home county is planning at least three more of which I’m aware. My old home town has a grand total of three; two of them along the outskirts of a single shopping mall and a third about a half-mile away. People who have driven these roads all their lives are easily confused by the change because they’ve never been taught how to use them.

            The older, huge traffic circles in New Jersey are in their way much more confusing because there are multiple roads splitting off from there and it is very easy to miss the one you want if you don’t know the area and the signage is not very clear as to which one you need to use for a specific road or highway. I’ve been taken miles out of my way more than once because of this. The newer, smaller circles are better because you can see every road entering and leaving the circle and you’re not ‘encouraged’ to drive faster around the circle to get there. Being single lane on most of them forces the driver to slow down for safety while still making it easy to take the correct exit from the circle.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            At least you’re not an Australian like I thought previously.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            No, Corey, I’m not Big Al. But I do agree with some of his commentary. I think it comes from having a few more years experience on the road than most.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I didn’t write or prepare the research for the traffic studies that have concluded that Americans are capable of handling roundabouts.

            And rotaries are not roundabouts. Rotaries were a pre-WWII American invention that were intended to keep traffic moving quickly through intersections. The Brits came to realize that this was a bad idea and later invented the modern roundabout, which is designed to slow down traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, ok – *According to research PCH reads/reports!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Ohio has acquired a pathological obsession with the darn things over the past five years or so!

      In encounters with them, there is usually so much traffic that you have to floor it to get into the traffic stream.

      Nothing remotely “green” about them when my foot is on the floor and my front tires are left on the street a little at a time in order to avoid becoming Chevy Chase in the roundabout scene in “European Vacation.”

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    So what? There are older drivers with reduced faculties. There are new drivers. There are drivers newly emigrated from third world countries with different (or no) driving rules.

    No state is going to make getting a license more difficult. No state is going to re-test drivers over a certain age. You will see very little enforcement of these sorts of laws.

    Whatcha gonna do? I’ll tell you what…

    You’re gonna pull up your big-girl panties, suck it up, buttercup, and DRIVE. Drive defensively, drive as if every other driver around you is a bad driver, but just DRIVE. Because you get no other choice. So quit whining about how bad other drivers are, and just drive your car.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      I like your comment. It speaks to the unpopular yet unarguable wisdom of speed limits, the adherence to which would lessen all possible consequences of all possible driver inadequacies.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Except that speed limits are an ineffective way to reduce driving speeds.

        If you want to slow drivers down, then you need to change the design speed of the road in ways that drivers intuitively understand that they need to drive more slowly for their own sake.

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          “change the design speed of the road”

          I know not this concept. Any links with photos of how that’s done? Is it ever pursued retroactively, as in making an invitingly open road more scary?

          Ironically, mightn’t simply the continued degradation of road surfaces provide an undesigned but identical curbing of speed? Maybe rot is the answer.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The concept is called “traffic calming.” There are varying ways to do it, some of which are counter-intuitive.

            Some basic examples: narrowing and removing lanes, adding speed humps (although their value is debatable), modern roundabouts (not old-style rotaries.)

            A counter-intuitive example: Remove the distance between pedestrians and cars so that drivers slow down. (Most drivers do not wish to deliberately run over their fellow humans.) The Dutch have pioneered this and achieved positive results, with crash rates actually declining as a result.

            Another counter-intuitive example: Removing many road signs at certain points such as intersections, which forces drivers to effectively slow down and play nicely with others if they are to make it through. (Again, a European experiment that seems to have worked.)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Elaine found out what happens when you remove some lanes and make the existing ones much wider. You weave about!

            “Wow, this road is so luxurious!”

            The two lane comfort cruise!

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Thanks. Food for searching.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            One of the implications of traffic calming is that it doesn’t make that much sense to use it on most modern freeways/interstates/etc.

            With flat surfaces, long lines of sight, center dividers and a lack of cross-traffic, it’s easy to design an interstate with a design speed of 80-90 mph. There usually isn’t a good reason to not allow the traffic to establish its own flow on these roads, effectively crowd-sourcing the limit. (This is often quantified as the 85th percentile.)

            It makes little sense to have legislators set an arbitrary figure that is then enforced with a cat-and-mouse game that features the taxpayer as the mouse. People are going to drive at speeds at which they comfortable, and the vast majority of them should be allowed to do just that.

  • avatar

    Fearful drivers ? My favorite are the folks who hit the flashers and sit in the middle lane, in an inch of snow….

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      Well, when the lines are covered with snow the middle lane gets all the traffic, shows some reassuring concrete and isn’t near a ditch.

      The scariest part comes when you have to guess where your exit is.

  • avatar
    71charger_fan

    There seems to be an increasing number of drivers around here who won’t take the right of way when they have it and instead insist on waving others by and often creating a confusing mess. They’re counterbalanced by an aggressive minority who flat refuse to wait their turn. Couple those groups with the generally clueless idiots too busy with their phones/kids/fast food packaging, it’s getting scary to be out on the roads.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    All the 4-way stop issues would be resolved if you north americans could figure out roundabouts, 4-way stops are such an infuriating way of policing an intersection.

    If you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a 4-way stop, then you need to get rid of the stupidest rule i have ever seen, the whole “yield to the person at the intersection first” thing. It’s an abomination, confuses people to no end and causes more problems than it solves. They should all be replaces by yielding to your left, it’s that simple, or better yet .. roundabouts!!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      It’s taking time, Alf, but we are slowly replacing 4-way stops with roundabouts and even some traffic lights in low-traffic locations. One of our biggest issues is not excessive courtesy or “scared drivers” that cause the majority of our accidents, it’s people running traffic lights and stop signs wherein a roundabout with a center barrier forces them to slow down to negotiate the circle even when they want to go straight through.

      But visibility is also an issue at many of these intersections to the point that someone on a side street may not even see an approaching car until it’s too late. The circle forces all cars approaching to slow down to the point that one intersection near me that used to have fatal accidents on a monthly basis now hasn’t had any in almost 20 years.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      The right-of-way at a four-way stop, when all else fails, is yield to the driver on your right. Just as in aeronautical or nautical navigation.

      Usually stops become a honking match! To be safe, I will always roll up to the line such that I’ll be the last one stopped. Usually works.

  • avatar
    RogueInLA

    Just do what many cities in Europe are doing. Eliminate traffic lights and signs. Traffic, amazingly, self regulates. So far the results have been better traffic flow and fewer accidents. Rather than post one link, just google “cities eliminate traffic signs” and read about it.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “Traffic, amazingly, self regulates.”

      Once that happens, how do emergency vehicles and tow-trucks get through?

      • 0 avatar
        RogueInLA

        I’m going to assume people get out of the way of vehicles with the flashing lights and sirens?

        Just a wild guess.

        In the cities where it’s been tried, accidents are down, traffic moves more smoothly, as people pay more attention to their driving, less to signs.

        I’m not a traffic engineer, but what I’ve read about it makes sense. The term ‘self regulating’ refers to people using common sense and courtesy driving in urban areas without signs and traffic lights. They’re not dependent on signs to tell them what’s safe, they figure things out themselves.

        I’m not going to type out all the areas and results, if you’re interested, as I said, you can google it.


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