Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

Aggressive Drivers

It seems to me that there have been an increasing number of aggressive drivers in the last 5 or 6 years... These days I can't even drive 5 minutes without at least two people pulling a dangerous manuever to gain a single car length position, at the possible cost of an accident or injury.

Does anyone else notice this? I live in Austin TX, perhaps it's just a symptom of overcrowded roads in a city expanding more rapidly then its infrastructure allows? Or perhaps it is just the cumulative emotional response to the slowed economy, multiple wars, criminal leaders, and people end up taking it out on the gas pedal...

Any insights are appreciated from both rural and urban readers.
Permalink B-Side 
January 17th, 2006
I was crossing the street yesterday, between two cars that were deadlocked in traffic. The car to the left of me pulled forward 10 feet, and the car to the right of me honked. At me for blocking him from moving 10 feet.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 17th, 2006
An ex-coworker said that he timed his commute home driving normally, then driving like a complete asshole. Total time savings averaged out to around 45 seconds. I kind of took that to heart, even though I didn't respect the guy all that much otherwise.
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
January 17th, 2006
"I live in Austin TX, perhaps it's just a symptom of overcrowded roads in a city expanding more rapidly then its infrastructure allows? "

When I visited Austin, I kept hearing this, and how the traffic is so bad etc.... man I would kill to have traffic like you guys, come drive on the DC beltway sometime :P.  But yeah the more crowded an area is, the more impersonal people are, and the more likely they are to run you off the road cuz they NEED TO GET HOME TO WATCH JEOPARDY!!!!!
Permalink Phil 
January 17th, 2006
It has been going on gradually for years. You're only noticing it, recently. Part of it is crowding: as more and more people have to share the same space, they get more aggressive, impatient and violent. Patience has declined as people become more conditioned to "getting it now." Even the movie studios have noticed, so they pace movies in 6 minute pieces, to correspond to the gaps between commercial breaks.

That you are noticing it is a sign that you're growing up. For the past 2500+ years (since before the days of Plato), old farts have been complaining about "the decline in morality/ethics/behavior of today's youth" where today is every day for the last 2500+ years. Your moral/ethical standards change as you grow older. But since it changes gradually, you aren't noticing the change, therefore you think it has always been that way.

Some posters will try to claim that aggressive driving is "skillful" or "more precise" but they're just trying to excuse their own rudeness by bluffing you.

Anonymity tends to also breed bad behavior. Whether it is on boards like this, or on the freeway, there aren't the social feedback mechanisms of politeness or shame to reduce rudeness. You get away with it because you can. And there is zero price to pay for bad behavior. If everyone had guns in their cars, and used them, people would drive FAR more politely than they do now.
Permalink Peter 
January 17th, 2006
"If everyone had guns in their cars, and used them, people would drive FAR more politely than they do now."
Here we go... (there's one in every crowd).
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 17th, 2006
"If everyone had guns in their cars, and used them, people would drive FAR more politely than they do now. "

Problem is, there tends to be an inverse correlation between the number of bullets you put in the driver and how slow their car goes. Seems like a counter-productive solution when the problem is road overcrowding. ;-)
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
January 17th, 2006
"The car to the left of me pulled forward 10 feet, and the car to the right of me honked. At me for blocking him from moving 10 feet."

There's a "Boondock Saints" quote that I pull every so often in situations like that:

"Where you goin'??? Nowhere!"
Permalink arg! 
January 17th, 2006
> Here we go... (there's one in every crowd).

So, you think people would drive LESS politely if they knew everyone around them in traffic had a firearm?
Permalink sixtyten 
January 17th, 2006
Yeah, I'm not claiming traffic in Austin is bad, I've driven in DC, Atlanta and LA and it's heavenly here as compared to those places. It just seems like drivers are getting gradually more aggressive, and I was wondering if it was regional growing pains or a national epidemic, like barbed wire tatoos and riced out Hondas.

Any more good stories like Mark's? I had a good one happen a few months ago- a van ran a red light and was broadsided by a pickup truck. Two guys jumped out of the smashed van and took off running; then the pickup driver being an unlicensed, uninsured Mexican decided not to stick around, so he floored it and spun his wheel to violate the same red light just as I was going through the green... T-Boning me and breaking my axle.

That was about the saddest looking Mexican guy I ever saw. He should have been elated, the pigs just ticketed him and let him go. His truck was pretty messed up, though.
Permalink B-Side 
January 17th, 2006
If all you people would move out of the left lane, then there wouldn't be any need for drivers to be "aggressive" AND the traffic flow would improve and everyone would get home faster.
Permalink Fast, but not aggressive, driver 
January 17th, 2006
I think that anyone who spouts the nonsense that "an armed society is a polite society" should spend a few days in the inner city.

We have at least three guns in the house, and Mom despaired of my manners a looooong time ago. ;-)
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
January 17th, 2006
"If everyone had guns in their cars, and used them, people would drive FAR more politely than they do now."

It would also cut down on traffic and rednecks. I say let the SUV season begin!
Permalink Colm O'Connor 
January 17th, 2006
"Anonymity tends to also breed bad behavior. Whether it is on boards like this, or on the freeway, there aren't the social feedback mechanisms of politeness or shame to reduce rudeness. You get away with it because you can. And there is zero price to pay for bad behavior."

I couldn't agree more with Peter. Without digressing into a my-life-sucks-more-than-yours exchange, I live in Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and I think we have some of the worst drivers anywhere. I have driven in several large cities and MSP has to rank near the bottom as far as driving ethics. It is astounding what people will do simply to get ahead of a single car going the same speed.

On the other hand, I think that Seattle has some of the best drivers in the country. I lived there for several months a few years ago and it seemed like everybody understood that they were all in the exact same position: just trying to get to whenever they are going.

[sigh]
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 17th, 2006
I was just thinking the same thing myself. So, I guess it is a sign of growing older. The other day I had a car basically tailgating me so I stepped on it a little to create some distance. So I come around a corner and there is a woman crossing the street (on a marked crossing).I stop to let her by.
Then the car that was behind comes up way to fast and comes to a screetching halt behind me. I see that its a man with a kid beside him, and he is gesturing wildly to me. When the womans gone by and we start up again, he speeds past me leaning over his kid in the passanger seat and tapping his temple in the international sign for "you're an idiot".

I still can't for the life of me understand what the guy was thinking. Probably angry because he almost hit me, which he only did because he came around a corner with no visibillity way to fast.
I pitty the kid.
Permalink Eric Debois 
January 17th, 2006
"I pitty the kid."

Thus, the cycle continues......
Permalink A. Nonymous 
January 17th, 2006
+1 to Seattle drivers being the best in the country.
Permalink Thirsty None Given 
January 17th, 2006
"It seems to me that there have been an increasing number of aggressive drivers in the last 5 or 6 years... "

Does this make you angry?
Permalink KC 
January 17th, 2006
HULK SMASH!!! =)
Permalink B-Side 
January 17th, 2006
Mommy? Why is it that the fucking assholes only go out driving when daddy is driving?
Permalink Peter 
January 17th, 2006
I think its a reaction to worsening traffic and longer commutes. People are pissed off about being stuck in the car for hours on end and have no outlet for their aggression except driving.

I've been driving in Los Angeles for 15 years and have definitely noticed that the average driver is way more aggressive. I see people flagrantly running red lights virtually every day now...I never saw this when I started driving in 1990. And the worse the traffic is, the more insane things that drivers do.
Permalink dave 
January 17th, 2006
"Mommy? Why is it that the fucking assholes only go out driving when daddy is driving?"

Brilliant.

For the OP - Maybe you're getting older and slower? :-) Seriously, though, I know some people who finish every highway trip with tales of terror all around them, with crazies passing them left, right, tailgating, etc. (My wife used to be like this, and she'd call me on her cell phone, and it was always terrifying because her reactions were like everyone was trying to smash her off the road).

I drive on the same highway and have no such drama.
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 17th, 2006
I always notice when driving in Houston that everyone waits about 5 seconds after the green before they start moving off. Must be a lot of red light runners there.

As far as moving out of the left lane, that would only happen in California if the police started handing out tickets for being in the left lane unnecessarily. People occupying the left lane like they own it is a major contrast with Britain, where people do (generally) move over if there is someone behind them trying to pass.
Permalink Ian Boys 
January 17th, 2006
We have a LOT of aggressive drivers in the SF Bay Area, although not to the extreme as LA. It's mainly the SUV/minivan/"my car is larger than yours" crowd, although there's equal parts of the "rice boy" crowd as well.

I wish the police would pull people over here in California for not allowing faster traffic to pass. They're supposed to be very strict about this in Germany. Everyone there knows the left lane is for passing only, and isn't it illegal to pass on the right?

Just curious...
Permalink QADude 
January 17th, 2006
"Seattle drivers being the best in the country"
Wow. There is a LOT of room for difference of opinion. Driving in Seattle is bad, bad, bad. Not to say that I think Seattle drivers are the worst; far from it. Alberquerque, NM has got EVERY other city beat for that. But Seattle drivers are hardly saints. Unless you count that fact that everyone usually drive 5 mph because there's so many %^&%$'n cars on the road. Try rollin' Sea-Tac @ 3am... that's when the crazies come out.
Permalink Star Wars Kid 
January 17th, 2006
i think it's all relative. Being from the city of "newly weds and nearly deads" and living in town, it's usually some bloody crispy doing 10 to 15k under the posted speed that causes frustration and road rage. We do have a rush hour of sorts but it generally applies to people travelling to outlying areas along the only artery servicing that area.
Permalink PNII 
January 17th, 2006
'If all you people would move out of the left lane, then there wouldn't be any need for drivers to be "aggressive" AND the traffic flow would improve and everyone would get home faster. '

Exactly. I can't go more than five miles from my home without getting stuck behind a retard going 5-10 mph below the speed limit. For some reason, they seem to love riding in the left lane, which is illegal in this state. Then you try to pass them on the right when you get a chance and they speed up. Then they get pissed when you have to cut them off.
Permalink SomeBody 
January 17th, 2006
correlation w/ increasingly more powerful engines?

i think the new camry is pushing 268hp...

wtf is up with that?

so... more powerful engines = people wanting to "make the most" of what they paid for = people driving like idiots for no apparent reason.
Permalink Kenny 
January 17th, 2006
I'll agree there are assholes on the road, and people who seem willing to run over a flock of nuns to get that extra car length.

But I also think there are a lot of other problems such as lack of lane discipline, inability to merge, not letting people change lanes, total oblivion while driving, etc.

An interesting side note - six or seven years ago AAA surveyed a TON of drivers as to what they considered the top problems on the road. #2 was "aggressive drivers"

#1 was "lack of lane discipline"

Oddly, you never hear that statistic quoted when the anti-aggressive driver folks go on a rampage.

Personally, I think the first thing we need to do is retest drivers every four years. It's insane that there are people driving who took a driver's test in 1965 and haven't been reviewed by the DMV since. (If we just made everyone take a driving test every four years we could end this stupid "age discrimination" complaint in getting older, unsafe drivers off the road)

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 17th, 2006
I wonder whether there's a direct correlation between aggressive drivers and incompetent parkers. Meaning the morons who can't line a Tahoe up between two straight lines. I shouldn't have to squeeze myself in or out of a @#$%^&* Tercel, fer cryin' in yer beer. If that car ever starts rusting out like my old one did, I might just be enough of an asshole to start dinging doors.
Permalink cubiclegrrl 
January 17th, 2006
Remember, drive at the speed limit in the center lane listening to some 70's era classic soul & it doesn't hurt if you look like a pimp and drive a Cadillac.
Permalink MarkTAW 
January 17th, 2006
Don't know about other cities, in Vancouver the decrease in "good driving" is probably 80% due to population increases and 20% due to immigrants. Yes, I'm a racist pig, but that's because I used to live in Richmond where many of the new Chinese-Canadians live. OTOH, traffic here is WAY better than lots of other places in the world. I can't imagine driving in Hong Kong, Rome, Moscow, and Beijing and Shanghai are totally out of the question, they _try_ to run people over.
Permalink Ward Bush 
January 18th, 2006
"I can't imagine driving in Hong Kong, Rome, Moscow, and Beijing and Shanghai are totally out of the question, they _try_ to run people over."

You'll find this true throughout China - pedestrians have to yield to anything, especially on the sidewalks. :) I spent three weeks in Shanghai and Hangzhou and I only saw one accident, however people were driving in such a chaotic manner that you just know deep down that there's a system in place...
Permalink QADude 
January 18th, 2006
Actually these little confrontations in traffic can be quite entertaining. Example: I'm in the left lane and going the speed limit, with no way to pull over (or I need to make a left turn a few clicks down), so of course some hot-headed asshole is riding my bumper. So I usually coast a bit, occasionally hitting the break light a little. That usually sends them right off the handle. The gesturing, the shouting and spitting. It's great.
Permalink jz 
January 18th, 2006
Even better, when one of them finally snaps and runs you off the road you might get a Darwin Award :)
Permalink Andy 
January 18th, 2006
"Example: I'm in the left lane and going the speed limit, with no way to pull over"

Define "no way to pull over" - heavy traffic and you can't shift right without taking out a fender? Or there's one car driving at the same speed right next to you, but you *could* slow down a few clicks and get behind him, but you choose not to?

Philo
Permalink Philo 
January 18th, 2006
"So I usually coast a bit, occasionally hitting the break light a little. That usually sends them right off the handle. The gesturing, the shouting and spitting. It's great."

You're a travesty on the road. :-)

Seriously though, you're making the world a less safe place even if you have some feeling of righteousness about it (you most certainly aren't make it a safer place).

Don't sit in the left lane if you have a turn a few clicks down the road, and move over if you can (e.g. "but there's a slower vehicle 900m up the road" isn't a good reason not to move over). Let the hothead past, and go on with your day, and save the lessons for the police.

A lot of the people who talk about how unsafe the road is are actually a bubble of danger themselves. Either driving people nuts because they don't obey basic rules of the road (such as move the hell over. It's the law here in Ontario now - it doesn't matter if you're going 150...if someone faster comes along, then you have to yield for them if possible. The police are the ones to enforce the speed limit), or putting so little care and attention into driving that everything seems to be chaos around them (because they notice everything at the last second).
Permalink Dennis Forbes 
January 18th, 2006
Think of it as therapeutic. Take the anxiety of having some obnoxious idiot breathing down your neck at 80mph flashing his high beams, and turn it right around. Leave him sitting there having a heart attack as you coast.

Sure, you can see it as just more confrontational bullshit which is what makes those guys act the way they do in the first place. On the other hand, sometimes you can be too nice. Sometimes it feels good to draw a line and say "You're wrong and I'm not moving". It's a good question: Should we always put up with people's nuisances or is it actually more virtuous to stand ground and not let assholes get away with being assholes?

To be clear, I'm not talking about hogging the left lane just for the hell of it. I mean the right lane is packed and there really IS no way of moving over.
Permalink jz 
January 18th, 2006
My personal pet peeve out here in the country is when you come up a two lane road and find two people pulled next to each other shooting the breeze with their cars blocking the lane.

They eventually move, but it usually takes at least a minute for them to wrap up their conversation and as it inevitably happens on the tail end of my hour commute I'm in full bladder mode. Makes me want to get out an whiz on their pickups.

Of course, since they know where I live and are likely armed to the teeth (all three of them) I try and think dry thoughts instead.
Permalink Steve Barbour 
January 18th, 2006

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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