Highway of Dread: 9 Horrifying Drivers To Stay Far Away FromBy Chris Weiss
Last week, a survey by Wales-based insurance company GoCompare found that BMW drivers are the most awful, dreaded drivers on the streets of Great Britain. While that’s about as surprising as the rumors that Christina Aguilera broke up with her hubby because she’s a sex-hungry skank, it’s good just the same to get some hard evidence for a fact that otherwise begs to be taken for granted.
While I had a hearty chuckle at the survey’s finding, I thought about it and realized that horrible, horrible drivers are a phenomenon that cut across makes and models. While BMW drivers are often blazing a-holes, they aren’t the drivers that most make me want to curl up in the fetal position and call out sick from work for years straight to avoid. No, those types of drivers don’t drive any specific car, but share some more unsavory traits. Here’s a look at my least favorite drivers to encounter on the road.
photo: nicolas boullosa
Unlike the rest of the list to follow, scooter riders don’t pose much of a threat to anyone around them. At least not in terms of physical harm. The fear involved when driving near someone on a scooter–particularly a meek, 110-lb. hipster–is their absolute fragility. They’re like the premature babies of the road–a little off-putting to the eyes and so fragile that you’re not comfortable being near them. One mild swerve or tap and that scooter is going to self-destruct, passenger and all.
Oh yeah, and hipsters make me vomit.
These artisans of astroturf have been an Achilles heel of mine since long before I even began driving. I had a string of run-ins riding my bike around the quiet, residential neighborhood of my youth. Like something out of a horror film, these loud, rickety trucks came out of nowhere, barreling down the road like derailed trains–lawn mowers and tractors bouncing in every direction and grass, mulch and garden tools spewing off the flat-bed. Then something mind-boggling happened time and time again: driver, passenger or both would give me the finger or yell something obscene out the window.
Now, what kind of a mentally deficient, emotionally unstable man in his mid-20s flips off a 10-year-old kid on a Huffy? Now that I’m an adult, I take solace in knowing that they were probably on some sort of prison-release work program trying to support five children from five different women. Youth, and inevitable thoughts of their own squandering of it, must have made them bitter. Still, to this day, I’m pretty uneasy driving anywhere near jostling tractors and bouncing rototillers.
Just because you can physically fit into a space in traffic doesn’t mean that you should. All types of drivers are guilty of this, but the worst are decidedly motorcycles. Traffic slows down (still moving, just more slowly), and these chopper hounds tuck and weave into the tiniest of crevices to slowly advance where they need to go. And sometimes that entails the entirely unlevel practice of driving between the actual lanes of traffic. They do realize that one last-minute (completely legal) lane-shift by any of the two-ton-bearing hunks of steel on either side would result in sure demise or permanent disability? Apparently happy hour at the Hog’s Trough is more important.
photo: Adrian Nier
You’re driving along at 15 mph over the speed limit, but it doesn’t matter to this over-aggressive piece of douchery. He’s going to tailgate you and flash his lights to motivate you to let him pass as if he’s got a battalion of flashing police cars in his rear-view. He’ll get to within an inch of your bumper, honk, flash his lights, lean out his window, wave his hands and leave you wondering how he can do all that and still drive. Then, when you finally let him pass, he pulls off onto the next exit. WTF is wrong with that guy?
Reckless Truck Drivers
I realize a huge portion of our economy rests on the back of truckers. But I hope and pray for the day when molecular transport devices swoop in and replace the need for trucks forever. Imagine how beautiful highways would be without these 18-wheeled hellions dominating every single piece of two-sided asphalt with a 55 mph + speed limit. Because whether they’re speeding past you in a snowstorm, spitting filthy road sludge all over your windshield on a rainy day, hogging the left lane for no apparent reason, swerving ever-so-slightly-but-still-utterly-horrifyingly into your lane, or a mixture of any or all of those, big trucks are the most likely type of vehicle to show up in your most fearsome nightmares.
“What You Lookin’ At”Asshole
Why is it that the people most likely to feign insult when you dare look in their direction are the ones that crave attention like orphaned child stars? On the road this guy comes in the form of a vibrating Honda Civic with tinted out headlights and an oversized, over-bassed stereo turned up to max so that your rear view mirrors vibrate out of position from being within 15 feet of him. So you do what any natural born human being would do: you glance over to see who’s ignoring all social convention and playing his music so loud it makes your nose bleed. Problem is, he’s been staring at you ever since he rolled up next to you, just waiting for you to stare at him. And when you finally acquiesce, he’s all too ready to greet you with a roid-rage, my-mommy-never-loved-me-as-much-as-a-good-lay, macho persona telling you you’d better not be looking at him or he’s going to break or maim some part of your body. Class act.
If it wasn’t for this particular group, American roadways would be a beautiful place to hang out between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Hell, you could probably have a picnic smack in the middle of some of them. But alas, thanks to the trophy wives and house secretaries, the roads pretty much suck straight through every weekday. Though the paradigm is shifting, you can still find plenty of these primped up princesses driving around in huge Porsche Cayennes and other luxury boats so fast and angry that you’d think Starbucks is going out of business. Whether they’re late to a yoga class or stalking the pool boy on his daily rounds, these women drive more aggressively than a coked-up Gary Busey in an anti-aircraft tank. And they’re also some of the most likely to be chatting on a cell phone, even though they have no one important to talk to, and spackling their faces with rouge and eyeliner, even though they have no one to get dolled up for. The fact that they’re in some of the biggest commuter vehicles on the highway just compounds to make these femme fatales absolutely horrifying.
Drivers In Training
All teen drivers can be pretty scary, but none is as scary as the teen in the “Driver in Training” car–a swift confession that the kid behind the wheel has never touched a gas pedal in his life. They should be on a training road, not on a live highway. And you know the kid’s ten times as nervous and awkward as usual because he’s trying to prove that he knows exactly what he’s doing. Only he doesn’t. Not at all. He may completely cut-off an entire line of fast-moving traffic to make a left turn, decide to pass a lit-up school bus on the left or come to an abrupt halt just to show-off his sweet, new K-turning abilities. But whatever he does, everyone around him is a lot less safe that day.
I hate to stereotype such a broad group but let’s face it, when your eyes, nerves, mind and bladder are all on rapid decline, the last place that you need to be is in any type of heavy machinery. Especially when that heavy machinery is around a lot of other heavy machinery. Driving 15 mph in the left lane of the highway, leaving the blinker on from curb to curb, driving in the wrong lane of a highway during rush hour, all of these are stereotypes, yet you’ve probably witnessed them first hand or heard second-hand stories from someone you trust. And like the safest bet that you’ve ever made, you can bank on the fact that there’s going to be a tiny white head barely peeking above window-line when you get the courage to drive past the offender.