As motorists of New York and New Jersey continue to fume about the hours they lost while sitting in an artificially generated traffic jam, there are plenty of us who spend a good portion of our days stuck in good old-fashioned gridlock....the kind having nothing to do with political payback. In fact, according to the Texas A&M Mobility Report, the average American commuter spends 38 hours per year stuck in traffic. For residents of Washington, D.C., the number inches into the high 60s, with San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York not far behind.
Given how much time we're spending bumper-to-bumper, you'd think we'd have the hang of it by now. But the fact is, there's plenty of road rage on our nation's highways, and bad driving etiquette shares much of the blame. If there's not a whole lot that can be done about the delays themselves, there certainly is much that can be done about the rude behavior. Here, then, are my top five picks for the worst-behaved drivers you'll spot in a traffic jam. If you recognize yourself on this list, take a good look in the rear view mirror and make that change.
1) The Non-Signalers: Despite the fact that a blinker takes a mere millisecond to activate and even turns itself off, there are far too many drivers who refuse to signal their intentions on the road. Listen up you folks: Just because you know where you're headed doesn't mean everyone else around you is aware.
2) The Shoulder Cruisers: Are you surprised that I give you the cold shoulder for riding at highway speed past dead-stopped traffic? By using the lane reserved strictly for emergencies, you're running the risk of creating a new emergency. You're also acting on an instinct that crossed the mind of every single one of us. Except we chose to do the adult thing and wait patiently.
3) The Exit Faker: Close cousin to the Shoulder Cruiser, the Exit Faker hops into the "exit only" lane, blithely pretends he's leaving the highway, and then, at the last possible moment, cuts back into stopped traffic. I'm giving you a time-out....for double the minutes you've just saved by cutting off everyone behind you.
4) The Median Maneuverer: Closely eyeing the "For Official Use Only" break in the highway's concrete divider, this traffic offender makes a quick switch into the express lanes from the local ones (or vice versa). Even worse, and exponentially more dangerous, is the driver who uses the divider gap as an invitation to make a U-turn. Word to the wise: don't try to beat the system or I might have to make a citizen's arrest.
5) The Bumper Hugger: Bad enough that we're all sitting here feeling claustrophobic. You've made the person in front of you feel even more closed in thanks to your refusal to allow more than a millimeter of space between his car and yours. Give us some breathing room. You're not getting to your destination any faster by riding his bumper.
So, motorists, please....whether you're sitting on the 101 in Hollywood, 1-30 between Dallas and Fort Worth or, indeed, the George Washington Bridge, please do your best not to make the experience worse with bad manners evocative of a Chris Christie staffer. No one but no one likes a traffic bully.