Identifying the Worst Drivers on the Road

Sunday, December 15, 2013

distracted driverFrom the backseat driver to the defensive driver, the aggressive motorist to the dangerous motorist, there are all manners of titles that people give to their fellow commuters, based largely on their behaviors while in traffic. Rob Mowat, automotive expert and contributor to the Globe and Mail, recently put together a list of his own, giving a name and a description of Canada's worst drivers.

  • "The Turn Confirmator." This is the person that isn't exactly liberal with their use of the directional, Mowat noted. For instance, instead of hitting their turn indicator well in advance of when they intend to turn, they do it at the last possible moment, preventing the motorist that's behind them from knowing what they're planning on doing.
  • "The Lap Dog." This description shouldn't be confused with the canine. Instead, these are the individuals who almost literally stare at their lap because they're looking down at their handheld device, either sending a text message or dialing a phone number. Motorists can identify these people based on herky-jerky movements, like stopping or veering to the right or left with little warning.
  • "The Laggard." While there's nothing wrong with maintaining distance from the vehicle that's ahead - as the faster someone is driving, the more stopping distance they'll need - there shouldn't be so much space that allows multiple cars to get in between two vehicles, Mowat stated. As a result, more people emptying into a confined area causes congestion and traffic tie-ups.
  • "The Darter." As the name suggests, this is the motorists that quite literally "darts" from position to position along a multi-lane highway. Not satisfied with his or her current bearing, they reflexively move to the next one, weaving in and out of traffic, potentially leading to a car insurance claim because it heightens the risk of an accident.
  • "The Tapper." Being able to quickly engage the brake pedal is key when traveling at a high rate of speed or even on a country road. But tapping the brake excessively can cause frustration for trailing drivers. Mowat indicated that the Tapper is evidenced by their constantly applying the brakes because they're driving too close to the leading vehicle's bumper. This has a domino-like effect for other vehicles who are following from behind.

The remainder of Mowat's list of bad drivers can be found in the automotive section at the periodical's website. Here are a few other indications of tell-tale signs that you may be observing a bad driver.

  • Leaving the high beams on. Everyone forgets to turn off their high beams now and then, but the serial offenders can be maddening. Not only do they make it more difficult for motorists approaching to see - oftentimes momentarily blinding them - but it can be really bad for the driver that's ahead of them. The rearview mirror may dim the light, but it's still intensely bright and very annoying. In these instances, pull over to the side of the road and let them pass. Alternatively, if someone has their high beams on from the opposite direction, avert your gaze to the right side of the road and follow the white line.
  • Tailgating. Driving as closely as possible to a vehicle that's in front is not only rude, but indicative of aggressive behavior that can quickly result in an accident if the leading motorist jams on its brakes. If you're in this situation, once again, pull over to the side of the road. Getting to your destination a few seconds slower is better than the alternative.
  • Driving slowly in the passing lane. It's called the passing lane for a reason. However, all too often, motorists camp out in the left-hand lane, frequently going under the posted speed limit. When faced with this situation, wait for an opening to develop in your lane, then speed ahead of the slow-moving motorist, making sure to do so safely.