MANAGING BEST PRACTICES: "Observations of a road warrior"
December 1, 2007
According to recent U.S. census data, people are driving in their cars more often than ever. I’m reminded how much I drive whenever I glance at my car’s odometer, which is closing in on a quarter million miles. Most of these miles are work-related and have been accumulated over the past several years.
Call it luck, skill or whatever; I have yet to experience an accident while driving. My fellow drivers, however, are not as fortunate. On average, there are more than six million car accidents each year in the U.S. Most of the accidents are caused by unsafe driving behaviors.
Since I drive a lot, I have ample opportunity to observe behaviors of those who share the road with me. I have a name for the various bad behaviors of drivers; some names I borrowed and some I came up with. Have you seen these poor driving behaviors before?
What they do is keep you just in front of them and on their right side. They see you well, but they stay in your mirror’s blind spot.
You know that safe distance we must keep between our car and the vehicle in front of us so we can stop in time if needed? The Gap Filler slides into this spot and causes us to back off to regain the safe distance.
This traditional at-risk behavior describes the driver who sits too close to your rear bumper and won’t back off.
This is the NASCAR-inspired driver who thinks he or she can save gas by driving close behind a big-rig.
Drivers should keep in the right lane except for passing; we all know this. Somehow left laners don’t.
A Pusher moves vehicles in front of them out of the way. You see them coming in your mirror, their headlights flashing on and off in the night, and move out of the way for fear getting rear-ended.
Froggers jump from lane to lane to move ahead as if they’re chasing a checkered flag. Like NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or Jeff Gordon, if necessary they will cut across multiple lanes at a time. Their objective is to shave 30 seconds off every 15-mile commute.
“Go speed racer, go!” If you’ve seen the cartoon character, you know these types of drivers.
On the open road this driver will reach the speed limit and then slow down for no apparent reason â€” and then repeat this action again and again.
A Roller Coaster’s speed diminishes as they climb a hill even with a modest incline. On the downside of the hill their speed increases. I understand why some trucks with heavy loads perform the Roller Coaster maneuver, but even four-cylinder cars shouldn’t have to do this.
When you’re on the merge ramp, you should match the speed of the flowing traffic and pick your spot before entering the highway. This usually means you must accelerate to the posted speed limit. The Decelerator doesn’t get this. They’ll come to the end of the merge ramp at a very slow pace hesitantly hoping to find a wide gap to allow them to enter the highway. This causes drivers behind them to become a Decelerator. When the Decelerator enters the highway at a very slow speed, they become an Obstacle (see below).
Speeders are bad but sometimes Obstacles are worse. An Obstacle is someone going considerably below the speed limit.
Out-of-the-Blue drivers stop abruptly, dart in front of you, or jerk into your lane. Maybe they have a reason for their actions, and maybe not. Alcohol-impaired drivers may do something out-of-the-blue.
Crazy drivers weave across lanes, go too slow or go too fast. And they keep repeating this dangerous behavior. You just know something is wrong with a Crazy driver. They’re an accident about to happen.
Police jurisdictions across the nation are trying to control the Multi-Tasker. This driver may be seen applying make-up, having a cell phone to their ear, or even reading. I kid you not, I saw a Multi-Tasker reading a newspaper while driving. You could see the paper in his lap and watch his head glance up and down from the paper to the road as he drove 65 mph down the highway.
The gawker will practically stop on the road to watch the results of an accident, even when police are directing them to keep moving.
If you take out your frustrations on fellow drivers, probably because of some of the irritating and risky actions mentioned above, you exhibit the commonly understood behavior of road rage.
The Example is the lucky driver who survived an accident and is waiting for help, or is sheepishly waiting to be ticketed after being pulled over for a traffic violation. We would hope that the average Gawker learns from the embarrassed Example.
Have you seen any of the bad driving behaviors above or some that I have not listed? More importantly, did your driving behaviors fit into any of the categories? I know that I’m not squeaky clean. We can all drive safer.