I thought that I had run out of unique examples of bad drivers, dumbass drivers and batsh*t crazy drivers, but apparently, there are too many out there. My first story is inspired by a bit of blame-the-victim journalism – that seems to work for other of society’s ills, so why not driving – that hits a little too close to home for my comfort. This was an article on “left-lane lolligaggers,” said to be the problem on our highways today.
Left-lane lolligaggers – are people traveling in the left (passing) lane on the highway. I have to admit, this is sometimes me. However, when it’s me, I’m usually doing at least one of two things: 1) I am passing cars that are in the center of the three lanes of I-91 heading south into Hartford, and / or 2) I am keeping up with the rush hour traffic in front of me, albeit at a safe distance, as I head to a left-hand exit I have to make. If I forget what a safe distance is, Greta (my GPS) reminds me. Using her built-in dashcam, and knowing my speed, she calculates how far I will travel before being able to stop. Greta has no desire to become dislodged from her perch, so she screams like a banshee(1).
The people complaining about LLLs are the people who want to go much faster than anyone on the road. They are the drivers who weave in and out of traffic like a pinball bouncing off bumpers, but now it’s my fault for not moving over and letting them have exclusive use of the left lane during rush hour.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished – I used to think that was an old expression that had been mis-quoted so many times it had lost its original meaning. Too many times, it has been proven to be true, especially during my morning commute.
I go from I-91 south to I-84 east just as the highway enters Hartford. It’s a left-hand exit. I didn’t design the interchange that was once labeled the worst interchange in the Interstate system – it’s the interchange where then President Gerald Ford’s limo was hit – but I have to drive though it. Until a point 2 miles north of this exit, trucks, buses and trailers are prohibited from the left lane. To make matters worse, within that 2-mile approach to the 90° very short left exit, the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane merges from the left. All of this, combined with traffic bunching up because of numerous exits and the highway narrowing from three to two lanes, makes it very difficult for trucks to get onto the left-hand exit ramp. Here I go again…
I will often let a tractor-trailer merge into the left lane ahead of me. He’s working for a living. He has to make that exit and, what difference does it make? By this time traffic is moving at all of 20 mph (32 kph), one more truck isn’t going to matter.
A few weeks ago, I performed this small generous act, only to me met with a chorus of horns, including an airhorn from a different truck driver. It’s amazing, but horns can signal unmistakable thanks and anger just by the timing and duration of the honk. These weren’t thank-you honks. The guy that I let in flashed his lights to say thank you, but that wasn’t carrying the moment.
Right-Turn Regardless – Connecticut is a right-turn-on-red state. According to the statute:
“Right-On-Red Rule. Connecticut law allows motorists to make a right turn after stopping at a red light unless there’s a sign indicating the turn is prohibited. However, drivers must use caution and follow the normal right-of-way rules when making a right on red.”
Normal right-of-way rules would include yielding to pedestrians who are in the crosswalk with the permission of the little Walk-Guy signal. Not so for me last Wednesday.
My best friend and I were walking from his condo to Dunkin Donuts Park to watch the Hartford Yardgoats beat the “Fightin Phils” from Reading (Redding), PA. When we came to the rampish street parallel to where I-84 tunnels under the city, we waited for the little walk guy. That’s a dangerous intersection. One lane goes left, two straight and one turns right. We got the light and we started moving. We weren’t the first pedestrians to enter the crosswalk. As I was about mid-bumper of a black BMW, the car started moving. I couldn’t see the driver, because all the windows were tinted (which I think is illegal). I yelled, but the car kept coming. As the left fender came dangerously close to me, I started banging on the hood. The driver’s side tire rolled up onto the side of my shoe – squeezing, but not crushing my left foot.
I yelled at the woman behind the wheel, but she sped away. My foot was not injured, but it remained uncomfortable for a couple of hours.
Included in today’s gallery are some of the scenes from a long weekend of work, walks and sitting with Maddie.
(1) A female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die.