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Lane-Change Ping Pong (and other pet peeves)

Posted in driving, General, Rants & Raves by J D Stadler | March 7th, 2011 | 20 Responses |

Image: St Petersburg Times

As I was driving home this evening, I had the pleasure of being stuck in stop-and-go traffic behind a large Suburban with no brake lights. Left, right and center, all out. Because it is essentially a land yacht, seeing around it wasn’t much of an option so I was left to basically use my mad telepathy skills to anticipate when the driver was actually applying the brakes. For 7.2 miles, I crept along behind the SUV until I finally had my chance to make a break for it and turn down a side road.

During that agonizing crawl, I had plenty of time to think about my biggest driving-related pet peeves. In the case of the Suburban, I realize that not every car has warning lights on the dash when such things happen, and rarely do we ask someone to check our tail-lights for us (although as basic maintenance 101 tells us, we should). However, there are certainly other things that my fellow pilots on the road do – which they absolutely have control over – that irk me to no end.

How about the person so desperate not to sit through another traffic light cycle that he keeps right on going, three full seconds after his signal has been red. Any time I’m first in line at the light, I wait because I’ve nearly been t-boned one too many times by these jokers. I just don’t understand how a person can have such blatant disregard for everyone else around him (or her) that in a purely selfish move they will dart into traffic, causing everyone else to lock up their brakes.

Image: AOL Autos

“Driving while texting” is the theme du jour lately but have you encountered the people with paperback novels open against the steering wheel? Seriously, people?! They make audio books for a reason. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before I see someone with a Kindle or Nook, puttering along at 45 in a 60, wondering why everyone is blaring their horns.

Next on the list would have to be the ping-pong drivers. You can identify these individuals quickly if their total lane changes exceed about three, though they’re still directly in front of you in traffic. Back and forth they go like some life-sized Atari game, trying to find a lane that goes faster than the others. These drivers don’t really annoy me as much, though, as the stop-light lane-jumpers. You know, just as you’re approaching a signal and getting your braking/shifting distance estimated, the dude in the other lane cuts into yours because it has one fewer car (and therefore, 0.5 less seconds he has to wait to cross the intersection with everyone else). So then you really have to jump on it to stop in time because their actions just removed about ten feet from your braking distance. Hope I’m not there to witness the inevitable time when someone does this in front of a fully-loaded dump truck who has far less wiggle room than I.

I could go on for another ten paragraphs, as I haven’t even gotten to turn signals (or lack thereof), the jackasses who make a left-hand turn directly in front of motorcycles, or cell-phone yappers.  But why deny you the pleasure of venting? Go ahead and let it out, you’ll feel better. What kinds of daily driving displeasures really grind your gears?

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20 Responses

  1. Goosfraba* says:

    …my issue is with the imbecile that is approximately 3 feet from my rear bumper while doing 80 on the NJ Turnpike. It’s as if these morons think that will make me get out of their way faster – If anything, they just earned a 10mph decrease in speed…how’s that Chief?

    • Kurt Ernst says:


      Man, I don’t miss “Combat Driving” on the Turnpike or the Parkway. If you REALLY want an exercise in terror, try driving I-95 in Miami at rush hour; it’s six lanes of bumper to bumper traffic, complete with blocking cars driving 30 MPH below the speed limit and rabbits driving at 40 MPH above the speed limit. Can you say “recipe for disaster”?

  2. nova15 says:

    There is nothing worse for me (outside of those who can’t bother to flip the turn signal when changing lanes) than people who just can’t seem to follow the rules of the road: that is, driving fast in the slow lane and slow in the fast lane. You drive in the right and pass on the left. It is that simple and could prevent a lot of accidents!!

  3. Humanparody says:

    I’ve got an ’87 Chrysler Fifth Avenue. Nobody seems to understand that I could rip a Ford Fusion a new asshole with this car, yet the jackasses driving still cut me off without even so much as a turn signal. This guy almost became my new hood ornament.

  4. J D Stadler says:

    All great contributions! I just had to add one more: the jerks who insist on making a right on red, when the people across the intersection have the green to turn left. I watch this circus every day by work and I know its just a matter of time before an accident occurs.

    Also +100 to those of you citing drivers in the left lane blocking traffic, I hate that too!

    • ptschett says:

      We have a fun variation on that in Fargo. The major streets have boulevards to restrict crossing/left-turn traffic, so to allow access to the other side, left turners are often allowed to U-turn on the green arrow. I’ve had times I was making my U-turn and had to stop short because a right-turner assumed I was making a normal left, rolled the red and then stopped with their driver’s door where I wanted my front bumper to be going.

  5. Bob says:

    Long left turn lane but the car in front of me brakes while still in traffic and/or gets over only at the last moment. Or when there is no turn lane, the car comes to a stop before putting on its turn signal.

  6. jeremie says:

    People who do not merge until the last possible minute. You know the guy who “didn’t see” all the signs posted for the last 2 miles, or the large overhead sign for the on-ramp to the interstate. He decides he has to back up traffic, in multiple lanes sometimes, because he can’t be bothered to slow down a little bit or wait in line for an extra 30 seconds….

  7. Doug says:

    I have a tie-people who go zooming around me on the RIGHT at a stoplight and then cut me off.Also the cars who follow behind another car at a stop sign even if they are 3 cars back

  8. Riverside Toyota says:

    I’ve heard news cases of bus drivers getting caught; one bus driver was caught reading a Kindle http://www.kgw.com/news/Rider-records-Trimet-driver-reading-Kindle-on-I-5-103101244.html He was actually recorded by a passenger and he was on the freeway. It’s true. The article says he was reading through the curves… lol

    My pet peeve is when people go in front of me without changing lines. I honk at them to let them know. I also find it rude when someone driving behind me talks on their cell. I change lanes.

  9. 68SportFury says:

    I especially enjoy the stoplight lane-jumpers when I’m driving one of my big ol’ Plymouth Furies, both of which have four-wheel drums. No, I didn’t need that extra 20 feet to safely stop my 3800-pound land yacht, you just hop right on over…

  10. Oh and one more. One that really pisses me off is when people make an illegal u-turn and the reason why it is illegal is because on the other side of the road; the person driving is on a GREEN LIGHT to turn right. Meaning, it’s illegal to u-turn for a reason; because the other person turning right on a green light can hit you. This happened to me over the weekend and I almost wanted to chase down the person or report their license to the police.

  11. J D Stadler says:

    @Riverside: I hate the u turns as well. There’s a light like this going into my neighborhood and I have seen numerous accidents from this idiocy

  12. Chris says:

    People who don’t bother using turn signals. Did no one see Shoot ‘Em Up? Does someone have to bust a Clive Owen so people will get it?

  13. DaveMofo! says:

    An intersection near my house is No Right Turn On Red because you can’t see far enough down the road to make sure there’s no traffic coming. I ride my motorcycle through it damn near every day and it’s just plain terrifying.
    They. Just. Don’t. Care.

    The sign is there, telling the motorists it’s illegal. And there’s a good damn reason for it.

    Warms the cockles of my heart to see the police nailing those jerks.

    • J D Stadler says:

      Dave: I feel for you, man. And then, when people actually DO stop on red, the jerks behind them blow their horns trying to make them turn *shakes head*

  14. ptschett says:

    -Left turners who keep streaming through the intersection after their yellow arrow phase ends and into the time that the green is being shown to the opposing traffic. There’s an intersection near me where I’ve been going straight through and had the green, but still had to wait for 3-4 left-turning cars to cross my path; I could understand it for the 1st one or two, but the 3rd and 4th obviously got to see the yellow and had a chance to stop and wait.

    -On a 2-lane-wide left turn, the drivers that can’t hold their lane and drift across the dividing dashed line.

    -4-way-stop usurpers.

    -When a road gains a right-turn or left-turn lane at an intersection, the drivers who approach the back of the straight-through lanes at an excessively slow rate of speed and make it hard to access the turning lane in time to catch the turn-arrow light. I’m not saying to zoom up on the queue then stand on the brakes, but don’t sit there creeping along at +5 MPH relative to the queue for the last 200 feet either.

    -Drivers who think the crosswalk stripe is supposed to be aligned with their back bumper, then act all shocked when there’s a pedestrian or a bicyclist.

    • J D Stadler says:

      “4-way stop usurpers”

      YES! I can’t tell you how much this infuriates me, happened shortly after I wrote this too; some soccer mom in a CR-V damn near took off my front clip as I was turning left on my “turn”, but she decided to follow the car in front of her thru instead of stopping. No apology, no “oops”, no looking at me to acknowledge her selfishness, nope. Oh how I WISH she’d have hit me, I’d love to get a new car on someone else’s dime and stupidity.

  15. Canrith says:

    Boy racers/ricers. Whatever you want to call them.

    The man/woman in the (insert flashy color here) economy car, with ‘Streetglow’ ‘Kickers’ and ‘(insert local garage you have never heard of’ stickers on all panels. However only aftermarket parts for their cars are an autozone tint job and ground effects from the cheapest online provider they could track down, in combination with the all powerful fart can exhaust.

    If these people would just go about their business, I wouldn’t get so aggravated they made their car a laughing stock. However, most have the incessant need to rev their engine at every stop light in attempt to re-create ‘The fast and the furious’ and proceed to make everyone around them cringe as they attempt to bolt from the line on green. Afterwards making gestures as though they just won an actual race.

    Nothing would please me more than to have their friends watch them get decimated at the actual strip…well, maybe a piston flying through their hood, but the massive blow to their pride would be a nice second.

  16. Taylor says:

    As to the red light runners: If, and only if, I am the only one in the car and I am in the lead position at a light and I see these guys I will do a fake start across the intersection just to try to scare some sense into them. I know it’s taking a chance, which is why I only do it while alone, but hopefully it will work occasionally.

    As for the right on red: If the road being turned into is a two lane road, it is a perfectly legal maneuver to turn right on red into the right hand lane. However for some reason people think they are driving semis and swing wide on a left turn into the right lane, which is incorrect.