Monday, October 09, 2006

A disturbing trend

Has anyone else noticed the increase of unskilled and reckless drivers on the roads these days? I really think there are more out there now than there used to be.

The scary thing is that they're not just unskilled, not only reckless: they are aggressively so.

And heaven forbid you should ever defend yourself against their sloppy technique. If you're brave enough to do so, you're likely to find yourself honked at or the recipient of a certain hand gesture.

Two recent events come to mind. Once, a car in the oncoming traffic turned left in front of us suddenly and we had to brake sharply to avoid hitting them. Jeremy honked briefly at them and was treated to an obnoxious return honk from them and a hand gesture out the window. Perhaps he had a suicide wish and was angry at us for slowing down and not crashing into his car. We can't be sure.

The second event was far more terrifying to me since it occurred while we were driving upwards of 75 miles an hour. We were on the I-10 heading up to IKEA in Tempe, and in the left lane since I was in the process of passing a car. A pickup truck approached very, very quickly from behind. I would guess he was traveling closer to 100 miles an hour. Anyway, while I was still in the left lane, still passing the car in the right lane, he remained very close on my tail. In any case, there certainly weren't three seconds of passing distance between us. Probably more like a millisecond.

I flashed my brake lights at him, but he didn't back off. I resisted speeding up just to humor him but completed my pass of the other car as normal. As I moved back into the right lane, the truck was already passing me. We were literally sharing the left lane for a few moments as he raced to get past me (I hate it when cars do that!). I honked briefly at him and I couldn't believe it when, in return, he swerved at me. Going 100 miles an hour. On the freeway. It was just a little fake-out swerve, but still. I slowed down a little to let him get plenty ahead of me because I didn't want to be anywhere near such an aggressively stupid driver.

Who are these people, and what is their damage with life?

On a similar note, I do wish that American cars had the ability to honk in different ways. Sometimes you just want a friendly chirp to let a car know you're there, other times you need to let them know in no uncertain terms that you think they're driving like an idiot. Cars in the Middle East often have a myriad of horn tones for every occasion. Where do I sign up for that?

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