Framing the Dialogue

Highway Etiquette

Fresh from my experiences with Waiting Room Etiquette at my wife’s auto dealership I had the pleasure of logging around a thousand miles traveling to visit family over the last ten days.  Unfortunately I had to share this time with many other drivers.  I know that polls show that we all think we are superior drivers and we can do anything we want; the rules should only apply to the other guy.  In my case that is true, but the rest of you need to show some etiquette so that superior drivers like me can get to our destinations unimpeded.

As I wait here for my wife to get home before embarking on another excursion to Cleveland and a visit to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame my thoughts turn to those lapses in courtesy that I am bound to encounter;

  1. The tailgater:  I wrote extensively about following the “two second rule” in the past so I won’t repeat that except to repeat how much tailgaters tick me off. 
  2. The leap frogger:  When I am on a highway I always use the cruise control feature.  My general rule of thumb is to set the speed around five miles per hour over the speed limit (except for active construction zones).  The leap frogger tends to whiz past you, cut in front of you too soon, and promptly slow down forcing you to pass them.  The cycle repeats itself many times. 
  3. The close passer:  This is one trait that my wife has accused me of possessing.  This person gets far too close before deciding to finally pass you.  I admit to this when I am on cruise and waiting for someone to pass me before I can pass the person in front of me.  I admit the flaw and that is the first step to change.
  4. The exit passer:  This A-hole will fly past you and promptly cut you off only to exit the highway.  Anecdotally these folks are often driving a BMW, Audi, or a Lexus. 
  5. The tortoise vs the tortoise:  This involves our professional drivers on the road.  As trained drivers, proffessional drivers I often wonder why they then try to overtake and pass another truck on a hill.  Nothing more fun that following a pair of truck lumbering up a hill.  I often repeat the phrase “I think I can” as I patiently wait for one to succeed or give up and they rarely give up.  This scenario often ensures that you also encounter the tailgater.
  6. Mad Max:  These are folks who drive vehicles that you wonder why they are even allowed on the road let alone a highway.  Vans and pick up trucks seem to dominate this group that often seem to be held together by bungee cords, duct tape, tiger hair, and rope.  Bumpers are optional on these vehicles the the colors usually tend to be of the primer variety (grey or rust color).  They make me shake my head as I harken back to my last car inspection that cost me a cool two grand to keep my SUV street legal.
  7. The right wingers:  The are the folks who will blow past you on the right side which is illegal in my home state.  I am not one to dally in the passing lane, but I also have a right to pass and feel no urge to rush when I am going over the posted speed limit.  The tailgater often becomes the right winger as soon as there is space for them to pass you.  This situation is often caused by…
  8. The right accelerator:  As I mentioned I always use the cruise control and when I overtake another vehicle I signal, check my mirrors, change lanes to pass the car.  A strange phenomena seems to occur for many drivers just as you begin to overtake and pass them.  The discover the gas pedal and speed up.  This is frustrating for me as I don’t like to speed (I am terribly frightened of hugely expensive traffic violations).  Rather than become a tortoise (No. 5) I’ll pull back into the right lane only to have them slow down again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.
  9. The perpetual changer:  This is the person who never seems to turn off the turn signal.  I don’t know if this is worse than…
  10. The absent changer:  This is the person who never seems to use their turn signal.  When you are on a highway this does not matter all that much, but on regular roads it is illegal, impolite, and lacks etiquette.
  11. The entitled merger:  There is one entrance to a local highway where there are perhaps the most ignorant drivers on the road.  It is a fairly busy exit and I generally try to be in the left lane, but at times cannot due to traffic.  The entitled drivers from this city suburb NEVER yield to traffic…cars that are traveling at 65 mph.  This is made more difficult by the fact that they seem to travel in convoys.
  12. The blinder driver:  This is the jerk who will NOT let you out in front of her even when she is stopped at a traffic signal.  It often causes you to wait until the next light for a break.  Maybe they do have blinders on, but my theory is that they are just rude.
  13. Construction Continuous Confusion:  I understand that besides being a time for lovers, summer is a time for construction.  A temporary inconvenience for a permanent improvement.  That is fine, but my beef is when I encounter work zones replete with flashing signs, reduced speed limits, and warnings about turning on my headlights and fines being doubled.  Everything is there except actual construction.  How many miles have you traveled through these non-construction construction zones?
  14. Speed limit shuffle zones:  These zones had construction at one time or perhaps in the future.  Some of the reduced speed limit signs are covered, some not and some of the non-construction speed limit signs are also visible.  I tend to obey the lower limits which often causes consternation for those traveling behind me.
  15. Too slow zones:  You have to love those “My Mommy Works Here” signs to convince you to slow down in construction zones.  They were very creative and politically correct.  Some current construction near my home has posted a forty mile per hour speed limit through the zone.  It is very difficult to drive forty miles per hour on a highway designated for 65 mph and probably designed for 75 mph.  It is actually painful to drive.  I took a poll yesterday when I traveled this route and 100 percent of the cars on that stretch thought the limit was too low.  I set my cruise around 43 mph (the flashing speed limit sign acknowledge my pace) and 100 percent of the cars on that stretch of highway me blew by me.  No cops in sight.
  16. The scopers:  This is me.  I always tend to scope out the drivers of the cars that I pass.  I rarely look at who is passing me, but I gotta peek at those slower than me. 

I’ll soon start my three hour tour (trip) to Cleveland and am sure to encounter many weary and dreadful drivers.  If I could only think of a sign or symbol to give them as they pass me by.

Leave a comment

Use basic HTML (<a href="">, <strong>, <blockquote>)