I’ve just about had it with dangerous drivers


Within the space of two days, the following things happened to me during my daily commute.

A car that was behind moved into the left lane and passed me and then drifted right back into my path, forcing me to brake sharply and cut to the right to avoid colliding with it. At the next light the car was halted and I drove up next to it to glare at the idiot who was driving the flashy BMW. Of course, the young man did not see me because he was too busy reading what was on his damn phone!

The next day I was driving home and was stopped at a red light. When the light changed, I started to move forward but saw that a car coming fast in the opposite direction was turning left, right into my path and that of the car next to me, long after the light for him had turned red. Fortunately for him, both I and the driver of the car next to me sensed that he was going to do this and so we both stopped, though we had had the green light for a few moments, and thus avoided an accident.

Then later on my way home, I approached a light that turned yellow. I slowed down and the light had already turned red as I came to a stop. Looking in my mirror, I saw a big SUV barrel right up, swerve around me (there was only one lane each way), cut back into my lane, and then go right through the red light. Fortunately, there were no cars going along the cross street.

What is the matter with these people? How much time do they think they are saving? Do they not realize that they could easily end up killing themselves and others simply in order to save a few seconds on their trip?

Jonathan Turley writes about the way cities are using red-light cameras as revenue generators. I have written in favor of such cameras in the past but he says that cities are engaging in unethical practices and using traffic lights as revenue sources by surreptitiously reducing the length of the yellow light and also reducing the grace time given to those who go through just barely after it turns red. This practice is terrible because it causes people to jam on the brakes and has resulted in an increase in the number of rear-end collisions, though it has also reduced the number of really dangerous right-angle collisions.

Then we had the spectacle of a motorcycle driver in British Columbia, Canada cutting through the roof entrance of a shopping mall, going down an escalator, and then emerging from another entrance. It is amazing that no one got hurt. Apparently, the police called off the chase since this encourages reckless driving by the person being chased. That sounds like a good policy but in this case the motorcyclist did not seem to care.

The bit where he enters the mall through the glass pyramid entrance is at the 1:15 mark.

Comments

  1. moarscienceplz says

    Our traffic is quite heavy, and thus it is common for it to come to a stop even on our freeways. In the last 4 years I have been rear-ended 3 times after coming to an orderly stop on the freeway. All three drivers were young, and 2 out of the three had no valid insurance. The third one caused no real damage so I let him go without exchanging info.
    I guess I’m lucky that at least all three did stop and talk to me.

  2. Who Cares says

    Best case against reckless driving I’ve seen 15 years ago.
    Traffic was heavy but flowing nicely at the speed limit. The driver in question was 3 cars behind the one I was in. Honking, lights, pushing the car in front or left or right, cutting of cars, passing in the right lane, even using the shoulder of the road.
    30 kilometers later that car managed to get 3 cars in front of the one I was in.
    This guy caused so much disruption that the speed of the section of traffic we were in dropped about 5 kilometers/hour.
    Oh and by some miracle he didn’t cause accidents, especially when he took over cars on the right side or the shoulder of the road. At one point several cars did a form of street justice by boxing him in on the left lane, that worked until he deliberately decided to push the car on his right out of his way.

  3. Katydid says

    My family has been in 2 serious, car-totally accidents in 5 years. In the first case, the spouse was stopped at a red light when a moron who was furiously texting slammed into him going roughly 60 mph, driving the spouse’s car through the intersection where he t-boned the car legally crossing the intersection on a green light, killing the driver and passenger. In the second, my 16-year-old new driver was stopped at a different red light, got the green, and began crossing the intersection, where another moron who was *updating his foursqurare location* slammed into the read passenger side, spining the new driver’s car around where the front passenger side then slammed into the moron’s car.

    Both morons were absolutely furious to be found responsible for the wreck–they were ON THE PHONE, how dare any cars dare be on the road when they were so clearly BUSY DOING OTHER THINGS than pay attention to the road?!?

  4. Katydid says

    P.S. Sorry–the above should read “car-totalling accidents”. Stupid auto-correct.

  5. Katydid says

    Apologies again; not to thread-jack, but this is something I feel very strongly about; anyone who causes an accident because of a cellphone should immediately go to jail for 10 years, and if they kill someone, for life. Period. A car is not a living-room sofa; it is a heavy, moving ton of steel and metal and glass.

  6. coragyps says

    Astoundingly, we have a new city ordinance here in the land of the cowboys banning texting and even hand-held talking while driving. (Not that it appears to be affecting the number of people doing such….). I wonder if it’s that we’re a small enough place that the councilpersons all know a victim of phone-related accidents?

  7. lorn says

    I read that several studies seem to show that the drivers of more expensive cars tent to be less courteous and more likely to cut people off. Figures, a lot of those types seem so entitled that it seems natural that they should assume the road was built just for them.

    Personally I think two things would help and foster some basic justice:
    1) When there is an accident all phones and electronic devices have their use logs dumped. Any party that has used the device within a set time limit, two minutes seems about right, of an accident is legally assumed to be at fault and liable for all costs.

    2) All traffic fines are to be gauged by yearly income and/or wealth. The finer points, particularly those dealing with wealth versus income, can be worked out but one half of one percent increments of income sounds about right. Figure median income is $40,000 running a red light would cost you $200. $10,000 income would be $50, $1,000,000 income would be $5000.

    Of course more serious tickets would get you more points. I figure drunk driving would start at 10 points, or 5% of income for a first conviction and it would double for each instance after.

  8. says

    1) When there is an accident all phones and electronic devices have their use logs dumped. Any party that has used the device within a set time limit, two minutes seems about right, of an accident is legally assumed to be at fault and liable for all costs.

    I see where you’re coming from, but what if you’re in a situation where everyone was using their phones within two minutes of the accident?

    ———————————————

    I live in New York. On Long Island. Driving here, both in the city and on Long Island, is an exercise in futility. I personally refuse to drive in the city. If I find myself in a situation where I have no other choice, then I’m not going into the city… regardless of the reason I was going in the first place. I do not trust other drivers to not kill me on their entitled way to wherever they need to be in three fucking seconds.

    Long Island, sadly, isn’t much better. Where I live, driving is basically required, and while it isn’t as dangerous as driving in the city, it’s still scary. People here just don’t give a shit. If I had a penny for every time I heard someone say “got another ticket; have to pay it. All well” and then complain about never having any money and having all these points on their license, I’d be pretty damn rich, and I’ve only been on Long Island since January. People will cut you off, they’ll pass you on a one lane road even if your speed exceeds the speed limit… it’s disturbing. And I just on’t get it.

  9. says

    My normal mode of transport is a much smaller set of wheels (motorized wheelchair), and I can’t even count the number of times I’ve come thisclose to bodily injury via distracted driver. I am paranoid about motor vehicles, and make damn sure I’m clear before I cross an intersection.

    And all that, of course, has been on the pavement. Don’t get me started on the times I’ve had to “play bicycle” because there’s no sidewalk at all!

  10. John Morales says

    Mano in the OP,

    Then we had the spectacle of a motorcycle driver in British Columbia, Canada cutting through the roof entrance of a shopping mall, going down an escalator, and then emerging from another entrance. It is amazing that no one got hurt. Apparently, the police called off the chase since this encourages reckless driving by the person being chased.

    I just watched the clip; the rider eventually lost control, slid off the road and dropped the bike on what looked like reasonably soft turf — but I reckon it still hurt.

    Not only did they not call it off, the car driver tried to box the rider in a couple of times.

    And yeah, it was a very foolish thing to do.

  11. Mano Singham says

    Katydid,

    Those are two horrific accidents that your family has been in. It must have been traumatic for them, not to mention the families of those who were killed. I am so sorry.

  12. says

    People don’t even have to be on phones to not be paying attention.

    Yesterday at an intersection by my home, a couple of cars were stuck in the intersection after the lights changed. The one further back saw that there was space in the lane to his left and pulled into that lane… almost hitting two women who were legally walking in the crosswalk.

    I’ve had too many crosswalk close calls myself. There’s one that I stopped using because too many times a driver didn’t notice that all the other drivers were stopped and drove past me while I was half way across. I’ve had a woman miss me by a couple of inches as I was crossing legally on a green light. I’ve had someone else zoom through a stop sign and come way too close to hitting me.

    Not to say pedestrians are saints. Holy crap, the sheer number who don’t seem to care about their own lives as they just step out into intersections without looking or run in front of oncoming cars while jaywalking.

    I’m never surprised by people getting hit by cars. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen far more often.

  13. lorn says

    … “what if you’re in a situation where everyone was using their phones within two minutes of the accident? ”

    I suppose they might divide the total costs between all parties. Alternatively some calculus could be made so that people who hung up before the accident get a break. That might lead to people desperately trying to hang up the phone when they know they are going to be in an accident instead of focusing on avoiding the accident of minimizing the damage.

    Perhaps the total cost of the accident could be paid by each and every driver on the phone within the two minute limit. All excess money would go to driver education and highway safety, and/or a fund covering costs for victims of crashes where the culpable party cannot pay in a reasonable amount of time. Like when the culpable party is no longer alive. No doubt a use will be found for any excess.

  14. lorn says

    NateHevens. He who hates straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied men (not really) @ 8:
    See #14. Sorry, I forgot to copy and paste the attribution.

  15. Katydid says

    Mano, thanks for your kind words! The husband and both children have scars from broken glass and the husband and one child had whiplash. The husband has to live with the fact that he inadvertantly killed another human being and the child that was in the car with him watched another human being die, but other than that, everyone is okay. The sick thing about all of this is that NONE of it had to happen. There is NOTHING on a cellphone worth risking another person’s life over. Our family rule is to pull over when safe (for example, in a convenience store parking lot–not on the side of a highway!) to take a call, or to simply wait until we get to our destination to return the call.

  16. Snap says

    OneTap; an App that helps prevent distracted driving (well, by the user anyway): http://www.getonetap.com
    It tracks your phone and automatically blocks alerts when you are driving, then provides them once you stop. A caller is informed that you are driving and is prompted to leave a message. An option for the caller to ’emergency override’ is also included.
    A great app for anyone who wants to avoid distracted driving. Won’t help with those who just don’t give a shit, unfortunately.

  17. says

    OneTap; an App that helps prevent distracted driving (well, by the user anyway): http://www.getonetap.com
    It tracks your phone and automatically blocks alerts when you are driving, then provides them once you stop. A caller is informed that you are driving and is prompted to leave a message. An option for the caller to ‘emergency override’ is also included.
    A great app for anyone who wants to avoid distracted driving. Won’t help with those who just don’t give a shit, unfortunately.

    Apparently it’s not available in my country… which is the United States… 🙁

    I have an Android phone, BTW…

  18. Excluded Layman says

    There’s a show I am addicted to. It’s hard to explain the appeal, given the format and frequently demeaning treatment of nominees, but damn does it ever get me in the pedagogy—I’ve seen failure modes I hadn’t thought possible, and can still barely believe.

  19. Mano Singham says

    Katydid,

    Those are tough things to deal with.

    Everyone in my family (including my daughters) are like your family, we never use the phone while driving. Furthermore, if I am talking to someone and discover that they are driving while talking, I will quickly end the conversation because I don’t want to be a contributor to their distraction.

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