Is it just me, or is driving a competitive sport?
Have you noticed driving down Broad Street, that the stop light at the North Catherine to South Catherine intersection has morped into the starting line for a race that ends at the next light at the Margaret Street intersection? The goal of drivers in the lane next to you is to not let you reach the end of the street before them at all costs. And if those drivers suspect you might cross over to the lane they are in, they will surpass dangerous speeds in a school zone and ram your car should you muster the courage to change lanes.
Since when did switching lanes become an extreme sport? It’s like Russian Roulette, except every chamber is loaded. I have been minding my own business more than once to look over and notice the driver in the lane beside me intently watching me with vicious eyes, snarling lips, sweat on his forehead and drool on his chin as he matched me, speeding up when necessary to ensure I stayed in my lane.
Has this become akin to racism, where the whites have their rooms and the blacks their areas to congregate? If so, who am I in this new world of driving in which lane assignments are determined by some sort of social order I have yet to understand?
The funny thing is, I wasn’t trying to pass anyone. And even more confounding is we arrived at the same destination at nearly the same time, excpet I believe I exited my car in the parking lot before him, not that I was keeping track, but that dude had my Spidey sense tingling.
I’ve noticed too that if I am pulling out of a street or business, say from Sibley onto Rugar or from McDonalds onto Route 3, vehicles in the lane I am pulling into will significantly increase their speed to ensure I don’t pull out in front of them. More than once I’ve had plenty of time to pull out but when I attempt it I notice the car in the lane I aim to enter suddenly racing toward me as if I had unknowingly enlisted in the demolition derby. This is life threatening when there are cars behind you also waiting to exit, because for some unexplained reason they feel the need to kiss your backside with their front bumper, as if our cars were soul mates unwilling to let the other go, which of course prevents me from backing up before the derby driver coming my way scores 10 points by ramming me.
Then there are the people heading up Cornelia and as they approach Route 3 and the lane evolves from single to double, they lane-switch 50 times and risk an accident to ensure they secure a spot in the lane that provides them with an extra foot up the road. The comical thing here is that even if they nab the lane and secure an extra car length, they often end up two lights down Route 3 at least four car lengths behind me.
Is there some sort of waiver out there people have access to that releases them from any liability as long as they are engaged in the competitive sport of driving? If there is, I don’t understand the benefit of it, as you would think they would be happy, except these drivers look like rabid lunatics behind the wheel out to catch the criminal who kicked their toy poodle.
The motorists I understand the least are those who drive 10 miles below the speed limit on rural roads, but then slam their feet against the pedal and jump well beyond the speed limit whenever the driver behind them has a legal opportunity to pass. Then, they slow down again, puttering along as they count Maple tree leaves.
But the drivers that frustrate me are the ones who refuse to allow someone clearly in a hurry pass them, especially whan the motorist in a rush uses his or her four-ways and employs the horn. Many times such drivers are dangers to the road and merely deranged participants in the sport of competitive driving. But there are also times when the driver behind trying to pass is in the midst of an emergency and needs to get somewhere much quicker than the drivers caught up in a race that solely exists in the minds of those willing to risk bodily harm to reach Target a few seconds faster than the car trapped behind them.
I remember as a child my mother being rushed to the emergency room from my father’s company party as one of his employees drove me in a car following the ambulance, his horn blaring and four-ways flashing. A leather-clad man revving his Harley cut the employee off and refused to let us pass. My father’s employee, an extremely large man, exited his car and offered the man two choices. The man moved his bike and to this day I look up to my father’s employee, even though his actions were not politically correct and could have resulted in a dangerous altercation.
My mother was fine, but imagine if that delay had prevented me from saying goodbye to her before she passed.
Driving is not a competitive sport, so get over yourself, because unless it is an emergency, you don’t need to be anywhere that quickly, no matter what you might think.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.