EVERYONE'S GOT THEIR
OWN DRIVING IRRITATION

   I'm not sure how long I'll write this column---maybe weeks, maybe months, maybe years. I may quit, I may be fired, I may drop dead---who knows? But I'm not going out without listing my Top Driving Irritation. The world needs to know.
   This is a subject everyone can relate to. We all have our pet irritations when it comes to driving on our roads. I was originally going to list my Top 10 Driving Irritations, but I had trouble narrowing it down to 10. It was easier to come up with a single one.
   Before I announce my winner, I would like to say that I'm amazed and impressed by how many good drivers there are on the road. Driving is a skill, and considering that there are a lot of very strange people in this world, I'm happily noting that I generally feel safe on our streets and highways.
   For the most part, laws are obeyed. Drivers stop at red lights, stay in their lanes on the freeway, and don't pass on curves. They maintain a reasonable speed limit, stop at stop signs, and slow down in school zones.
Those are the positives, which I managed to sum up in two paragraphs. Now let's get to the negatives, which are much more fun.
   I'm keeping everyone in suspense about my Top Driving Irritation. It's coming. But first, like any competition, I need to announce the first runner-up. This wasn't easy to choose, because as I said there were plenty of choices in my Top 100 (maybe a slight exaggeration) and all of them were irritating. However, since I have to choose a runner up, I'm going with driving in the fast lane on the freeway when you're not passing.
   To pass a driver's test, apparently you don't have to know how to read. Because there is a sign on every freeway, every few miles, seen by a driver probably thousands of times a year, that reads "SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT." So how come so many drivers park themselves in the far left lane and cluelessly plug along, oblivious to the cars behind them desperately wanting to pass?
   I think "clueless" is the key word. These aren't 16 year olds in their first rodeo. These are people who have driven for decades. I know, because I look at them every time I pass them on the right. They just stare straight ahead, oblivious. Irritating.
   Now that the runner up is out of the way, it's finally time to announce the winner. Once the word spreads, the world will be a better place.
   Here we go. Picture yourself on a busy city street, with those interminable signals. You're in the left turn lane, stopped at a red light, desperately wanting to turn left at the next green light. But there's a car in front of you.
   Traffic is heavy coming the other way, so once the light turns green, there is no turning left until the light turns red again and the traffic coming the other way stops.
   Excitement builds as the light eventually turns green. Finally, you'll be able to turn left and get to where you're going. But the car in front of you barely moves into the intersection. You tap your horn, trying to let the driver know there are other people in the world besides him or her, and they would also like to turn left when the light changes.
   The driver, hearing the honk, looks in his or her rear view mirror and sees you pushing your hand forward, motioning for the knucklehead to move out at least halfway into the intersection so that the cars behind him will have a chance to turn left as well. But the self-centered jerk doesn't get it, and remains frozen until the light turns red and he or she happily turns left, leaving at least two frustrated motorists waiting for the next light.
   I'm generally not a horn honker, but you have to make exceptions for your Top Driving Irritation. I still remember the longest and hardest I ever honked my horn was at some poor woman who didn't even move her own car into the intersection while waiting for a chance to turn left. When the light turned red, she waited for the next green light. She may still be there.
   I've honored this driving irritation at the top of my list because it's a microcosm of the world. It's not all about you turning left, it's also your fellow motorists behind you as well. Move into the middle of the intersection, and help your fellow citizen.
   That's my Top Driving Irritation, which I've now shared with the world. Nothing will change, but I feel better.
 

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