Driving Me Crazy

Usually my blog posts focus on my experiences in nature, but today I have a special treat for you. I’m going to categorize some of the people who drive me crazy by the way that they drive on the road. I’ll even throw in some bird analogies as a bonus. By the way, Morgan Freeman is definitely welcome to be my chauffeur.

Hey did you know there’s this great invention called the turn signal? A flashing light signals your intentions to other drivers so that they can prepare themselves. All you have to do is move your hand over a few inches and pull the lever. I realize that many people in the United States are resistant to any form of physical activity and that consistently using your turn signal could take years off your life, so I guess this isn’t a big deal . . . WRONG! I can’t tell you how many times I barely avoided an accident because someone was driving 60MPH and then decided to slam on their brakes and quickly turn without warning. Also fun is when a driver rapidly cuts into your lane without signaling. From now on, I’m calling everyone who repeatedly refuses to use turn signals Turn-offs. You’re turning me off.

Ironically, sometimes drivers forget and let their turn signals continue to flash long after they made a turn. I’ve had a few nervous moments trying to pass a semi when I realized the left turn signal was on. Most of the cars I’ve been in have loud signals that are annoying, which makes them hard to ignore. Maybe those drivers have their music blaring and can’t hear the signals? Birds don’t use turn signals either. The falcons that I’m studying repeatedly make quick turns to fake me out. They know I trying to make some observations and act quickly to ruin them. Mourning Doves, Pheasants and Woodcocks are notorious for taking flight at the last possible second. They enjoy allowing unsuspecting travelers to walk up close before bursting into the air and startling the living daylights out of the walkers.

Did you know that the left lane is supposed to be used for passing slower drivers? That means three things: don’t drive 15 mph below the limit in the left lane, don’t linger in the left lane for hours, and don’t abuse the system and drive 15 mph above the limit screaming at people to get out of your way. Instead of trying to be considerate drivers and respect the rules of the road, so many people want to rush everywhere like they are in a car chase with Jason Bourne. Hmm . . . can I shoot some tires out? Would that be acceptable? Anyway, drivers try to figure out what they can get away with. Driving 75 in a 55 is okay because the speed trap isn’t for another 3 miles, right?

Jason Bourne does not make the safe drivers list. (Scene from The Bourne Identity)

Birds do not follow speed limit laws. I recently found an American Kestrel perched on a 30 mph sign. As I began to make some observations from my car, he promptly flew off. I tried following him, but he flew at speeds of around 40 mph. Speeding up would not have been advisable as I was on an army base with explosives, nerve gas, and security teams. Peregrine Falcons definitely break all speeding laws when they dive after prey at over 200 mph!! Other birds seem a bit clueless and meander about as slowly as possible. Robins, for example, love to hop along the road. Car coming? Hop very slowly so you don’t have to fly. Bobwhites and Killdeer also enjoy running just in front of my car as slow speeds. Hey guys, you know you’re allowed to veer off into the woods, right? Of course, nervous quail are better at staying in their lane than many drivers I’ve seen. Maybe some drivers should learn from the birds. Which reminds me, I have seen drivers give each other a bird during an incident of road rage.

Male American kestrel in flight Peregrine falcon diving

Top – American Kestrel (my study species). Bottom – diving Peregrine Falcon

Killdeer shading eggs from sun

Killdeer enjoy running directly in front of your car at slow speeds.

One of the traits common to drivers in central Kentucky, is that they tend to sit still for long periods of time after the light has turned green. This is one of the driving traits that really annoys me. Everyone acts like they’re in a hurry all the time. Speeding around corners, cutting in front of other cars, and zooming through red lights. Then when those drivers are stopped at a traffic light, they take FOREVER to start going. I’m not expecting anyone to go Nascar and accelerate to 60 mph in a few seconds, but get off your cell phone and pay attention to your surroundings. I’ve had numerous occasions where drivers sat for so long at a green light that the light turned red again without almost anyone getting to go. Drivers on the phone are always dangerous because they’re not very focused on what is happening.

One of the most dangerous bad driving habits is cutting out in front of another care at an intersection. Smashing into the side of another car can be devastating. I can’t tell you how many times someone has cut in front of me and I had to slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid an accident. Most of the time, the other driver could have just waited 3 seconds for me to pass and been fine. We’re so impatient in the U.S. that we are willing to risk an accident to save 3 seconds of time.

Now it’s time to talk about the driving maneuver that bothers me the most – tailgating. Nothing makes me want to slow down more than someone riding my bumper. Don’t like it that I’m trying to show respect for the law and avoid accidents by driving the speed limit? Maybe you need to readjust your priorities and check your attitude. Tailgating is also a problem because there is little margin for error. If a turn-off makes a sudden maneuver, the tailgater may plow into the back of the other car. There are also times where the car in front may have to suddenly stop. This is not mario kart, you don’t gain turbo boosts by riding the drifts of the car in front of you. Hmm . . . if we could have mario kart in real life, I would drop some banana peels to stop tailgaters and run into turn-offs with green shells. Then I could shoot red shells at left lane abusers and strike speeding cars with lightning.

I want this to happen in real life to bad drivers.

Stay away tailgaters!

Despite my annoyances with bad driving habits, I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe someone had a bad day or is really tired or is dealing with screaming kids, or made an honest mistake. I’ve accidentally made poor driving decisions before and I’m close to perfect, so I know it’s possible. Who am I kidding? Every driver that makes a bad move is terrible and should be shot. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pretend to be Toad from Mario Kart and zoom through life. YAHOO! YAHOO! YA-YA-YAHOO!!

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