Tales From The Cooler: Disregarded Dreadful Drivers

Virgil Hilts
by Virgil Hilts
tales from the cooler disregarded dreadful drivers

We are bombarded with messages about the dangers of drunk driving, of the hazard of talking and texting on cell phones while driving, and the need to give a wide berth to folks driving Zipcars. We think there are many other varieties of unsafe motorists that get no attention from the media. As a public service, let’s take a look five subtle, but equally scary, drivers that make the highways a real challenge.

Prius Drivers NOT Blocking The Left Lane

These drivers scare me the most: Prius pilots running 20 miles per hour under the flow of traffic while in the right lane of a freeway, eyes glued to their fuel consumption gauge. They clearly did not read their owner’s manual, which spells out they are required to hold up traffic in the left lane. They are an unpredictable lot, prone to uneven speeds and sudden braking, unlike their left-lane brethren who you know are never going to yield to faster cars and thus you can adjust accordingly.

Drivers With Cars With Too Many Bumper Stickers

Question: When was the last time you saw a vehicle with more than two bumper stickers running quickly and unobtrusively through traffic? Answer: You never have. To these motorists, a car is not even an appliance – it is a bulletin board used to express their political views. I don’t think they realize that people cannot read their messages due to the clouds of blue smoke belching out the tailpipes of their beaters.

Driver Who Insist On Holding Fluffy In Their Lap

Your cell phone won’t poop or pee in your lap or yap at other cars. Besides distracting the driver, dogs can and do get injured or die by falling out of vehicles. The state of Hawaii has already banned motorists from holding animals while driving and three other states can ticket you under distracted driving laws. If they sport more than two bumper stickers, call the highway patrol.

Drivers Of Dump Trucks And Gravel Trucks

I have the greatest respect for professional truck drivers. These are not professional truck drivers. They are usually minimum wage, minimum brain and, in my neck of the woods, minimum English speaking individuals. Whether cracking your windshield – always directly in your line of sight – by shooting up an errant rock or mowing down a group of motorcyclists, these goons may be the very worst drivers on the road. And good luck going after the trucking company to replace your windshield: did you ever see a dump truck with a readable license plate?

Drivers Who Brake With Their Left Foot

Anytime you spot a car with its brake lights stuck on, you can bet the driver is resting his or her left foot on the brake pedal. (I give Land Rover drivers a pass on this one, as their taillights may genuinely be stuck on permanently.) If you are behind one and they slam on the brakes, you will have no way of knowing they are stopping and if you hit them you will be deemed responsible. Any old-time used car manager can tell you they used to judge brake wear by the scuffing on the left side of a brake pedal. I really thought these folks had all died off, as the teaching of left footed braking in driver’s education ended decades ago, but it appears to be making a comeback.

I know you can add many other obscure terrible drivers to this list…

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4 of 127 comments
  • Redav Redav on May 09, 2013

    I wonder where all these slow Prius drivers in the left lane are. They certainly aren't anywhere near me. Here, they usually drive just as fast & aggressively as everyone else, but I do occasionally see one putting along in the right lane. Bumper stickers: actually, I've noticed the ones with multiple conservative, pro-gun / military stickers drive fairly normally. I agree about the gravel trucks. And I've also seen Saturns with their brake lights messed up so that cruising with headlights (but no brakes), the brake lights are on, and when the brakes are applied, everything goes turns off.

  • Cackalacka Cackalacka on May 10, 2013

    Late to the party, but as a resident on a side-street (speed limit:25) next to a freeway (speed limit: 60) among my biggest pet peeves: Folks who drive like a bat out of hell in a parking lot/residential street, who struggle to approach highway speeds when it is appropriate. As my proximity to the freeway affords a lot of exposure, I have seen a very strong correlation between folks who drive 50 in a 25 who go the same speed in a 60.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on May 12, 2013

      @CJinSD Having school speed limits so low that you need to downshift, unless you're comfortable coasting, are nonsense, unless you're within 30 minutes of arrival or dismissal. (This is for Ohio, with a 20mph limit--I can't imagaine what it's like in areas with 15mph or lower limits; at that point, you might as well put the car in neutral, then get out and push!

  • Sam Who do I sue when the car doesn't do what I want it to and that action of the car being autonomous caused the crash?
  • Norman Stansfield Automatic braking systems reward bad behavior. Stop incentivizing lousy driving behavior.
  • Kwik_Shift It was an annoying feature on my 2018 Nissan Sentra SV. Bugs, leaves and snow would disable it. Should have been a better design .
  • Master Baiter A regulator's job is never done, so yeah, bring on the next level of regulations.
  • DedBull The automatic braking system in my wife's 2019 Tiguan is easily defeated by the slightest amount of solid precipitation, which is not uncommon here in western Pennsylvania. Fortunately we have regular speed-holding cruise control, because the active cruise control uses the same sensor and becomes inactive in the same conditions. It was infuriating in our loaner. I've had a few false-positives over the years, plus a couple where it didn't like my rate of deceleration. Interestingly it did not intervene at all when I had a deer strike a couple years ago. I don't mind the application of the tech, but I think they are setting a pretty high bar going forward. I'm also cautious of over-reliance on tech in vehicles.