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A Toot and a Finger Wag?

To honk or not to honk? That’s the question posed to us this week by Jacob out in Redding, California. Jacob thinks drivers who cut him off on the freeway need to be put on notice that they’ve done a bad thing, with a quick beep. His Dad, however, takes a Zen approach, and thinks Jacob should just let them be. So, they asked us to mediate.

Ray agrees with Jacob, but would add a quick finger wag to help punctuate the horn. Tommy however, has a less passive response, which is likely to result in a 911 call. Who do you side with? Zen Dad, Reasonable Raymie, or Nutso Tommy? Share your thoughts here, and listen to the call here.

Yours in driving etiquette,

Tom and Ray
Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

Are you out of your ever-lovin’ minds? A brief honk, maybe. But Jacob and Tom and Ray should think very carefully about the phenomenon known as road rage, and follow Zen Dad’s advice. Jacob should be glad that he’s a good enough defensive driver that he did not have an actual collision with the idiot driver and let it go at that. A finger - any kind of finger - has been known to lead to very unfortunate consequences for the fingerer.

I think Jacob is in the totally wrong to begin with in several aspects. In order to enter a freeway, one must match the speed of the cars on the freeway in order to merge effectively and safely. It is very hard to merge into traffic going 60 mph when one is going say, 45. Yeilding is a very unsafe practice. Should one stop if there is no room? Then all the cars that may be coming up from behind could plow into you or also stop. If there are no cars behind one, one now has to enter a freeway with cars going 55, 60, 65 mph or faster from a DEAD STOP. Not very safe.
What should be done when in the right lane on a freeway and cars are entering, is to either, change lanes to allow them access, speed up so they can enter behind you or slow down so they can enter in front of you. That car entering is going to run out of lane very soon and be forced to stop or slow down drastically it is rude not to accomodate them. Of course, the entering car has to adjjust as well.It is a matter of courtesy. Let the car in, give them some room orchange lanes.I will cut of anyone who stubbornly refuses to adjust in any way because they are rude.

 The other day I was westbound on I40 at MM188 doing 70 with a carlength in front of me when a jerk in a G6 with Florida tags(I knew he was a jerk cause he was in a G6...) came up on the right and, with his left wheel on my front bumper, came over, in traffic. I drive a 97 Escort and shouldn't have given way, but I did, over the bumper strip almost into the grass. We ratraced for 15 miles til I pinned him on an exit ramp to a new road going nowhere, when, last minute, he veers over the lines behind me. I locked the brakes (nobody behind me for 1/2 mile), and he nearly rearended me. Kinda wish he had. Tommy's right; these people need to learn, even if it's the hard way, a turn signal is a request, not a right. There are alot of stupidly selfish people out there, and they make it hard on everyone. JB, Only, TN

I wish I could educate some drivers sometimes about their poor habits, but it’s difficult to roll down your window and say don’t do that, or do it better this way.

I think another thing that should be mentioned about merging is that people don’t understand how to do it. I’M NOT A HILLBILLY, BUT I HAVE TO TYPE THIS IN ALL CAPS. YOU CANNOT MERGE WITH A TRAVEL LANE, AS I TELL MY MOTHER, OFTEN, UNLESS YOU ARE GOING THEIR SPEED!!!

Do NOT merge and THEN speed up!!! Speed up FIRST and THEN merge!!!

I agree with ZenDad. None of us is perfect. We’ve all made driving errors. Once I got annoyed with a driver who bypassed slow traffic on the right of a single lane road. The nerve!! When I finally passed him he was in front of a house and what looked like his dad was being taken out in an ambulance. Put me in my place. We never know why people are doing what they do. Dad is right. Why should you let someone else’s behavior ruin your day? You could have it all wrong.

The solution to the rude drivers who are cutting us all off in traffic is my, yet to be manufactured or sponsored, invention. This revenge devise is mounted on top of your car as tastefully as possible for anything that is mounted on top of a car. It contains no explosives, chemicals, or ballistic type of weaponry. However, it is more powerful than any of these. As one wimp once said, "The pen (written word) is mightier than the sword.? He was obviously a journalist trying to avoid getting his butt kicked.
The devise is like those scrolling signs that you see at banks where a messages runs across it in lights like a ticker tape. The billboard and text in this case would be a single line wrapping all the way around for 360 degrees so as to be seen from all sides. It is connected to a key board inside the car where the drive could type in his messages. So, when you are cut off by some jerk on his cell phone, drifting across lanes, at a reduced speed because he is also chewing gum, you simply type in the appropriate admonishment like, “Hang up and drive.” Or, “How many cereal box tops did you send in to get your driver’s license, you dumb, explicative, explicative, explicative?” Or, you can be more affectionate, "Kiss my grits."
This message is displayed in red lights scrolling above and around the roof of your car. Think how awesome this would be at night; what about adding sound affects? For that matter, what about adding a loud speaker? Better yet, add a voice synthesizer, or voice altering devise, so even Richard Simmons (an actual person, I am not making him up) would come across sounding like Darth Vader (a fictional person played by an actual person, Denzel Jones).
Over the years, this has been my best solution. I have mellowed some after the rough years when I tried to mount ripping blades on my wheels, like the ones on the chariots in Ben Hur, and mounting large iron spikes on the grill of my Jeep. Those reduced my gas mileage and blocked the airflow through my radiator which tended to make my engine over heat. The authorities seemed to have no sense of humor or justice regarding these alternatives.

The cut off situation described by Jacob was regarding a car entering the freeway and not yielding to a car proceeding in the right hand (slow) lane of the freeway. Although as you said, the freeway car has the right of way and legally the entering car must yield, I disagree with the practice of not yielding to the entering car. What ever happened to common courtesy??? Besides, consider the dangerous situation that is created if the entering car stops at the end of the acceleration ramp. I ALWAYS provide space for an entering vehicle whether it means I have to change lanes or slow down!!! It’s really not that difficult to be nice. It’s even more important if it’s a vehicle with low acceleration.
Common courtesy should be a primary concern when driving! We would have a lot less problems on the road.

In the heavy traffic we have today we need to help the cars that are merging to do it safely. Not all drivers have the nerve of a race car driver. That means give them some extra clearance. And when courteous drivers have opened up the right lane for that purpose it is not a signal to use the space to pass the build up in the middle lane that results! It is still important for the entering driver to plan the entry point and entry speed. The only time the horn is okay is when the merger is obviously not paying attention after you have extended the courtesy.

Have you considered switching to decaf?

Why would you drive at 70 MPH with only a car length in front of you? Tailgating like that puts the occupants of the vehicle in front of you in danger.

I’m with Whitey on this one. It sounds to me like you’re the dangerous one in this situation.

It’s easy to feel tough, invincable, and aggressive behind the wheel. But playing “car games” with other aggressives is extremely dangerous…to you and everyone around you. Please learn to relax. Remember, you’re almost guaranteed to go up against someone even crazier than you and someone will get hurt. Or worse.

Guys! Guys! Come on. A rose is a rose is a rose. A jerk is a jerk is a jerk. Honking at jerks is pissing in the wind guys, and if you take a moment to think about it, you’ll see it. Dad is right. Honking at jerks produces nothing except maybe a momentary satisfaction that you reacted, and an increase in jerkdom that can produce more rage, and a worse accident down the road that you don’t even know about.
But kids need that momentary satisfaction the honk gives 'em, not grown ups. Jerks are not in the business of learning to behave, so there’s no “lesson” there.
Those that made the move by mistake will likely know it right away and beat themselves up over it, but an adult lack of reaction from you, may be a new lesson for them.
So we need a more modern design for our freewyas, like maybe the Brits. Theirs have acceleration and deceleration lanes 300 feet long, with counters every 100 feet, so you get up to speed before slipping into the travel lane.

I totally agree with Reasonable Raymie! I have had the same conversation with my wife and my daughter, both of them prefere the Zen Dad’s approach. But, I think drivers need to be put on notice when they are wrong. The more we the “thinking” minority lets them ( the morons )be, the more they do it with impunity. Driving is the most risky thing we do and it’s only fair to demand that everyone involved, pay attention. Too many of us are just unnecessarily careless on the road. And, a honk and a finger wagged, is the lest we the careful ones can do…

Thanks Tom and Ray, great show!!!

I flash my high beams on for a long time in daylight and several quick flashes at night

Is this your own role or this something they teach in driving school? Merging is dangerous, which means you slow down and look for the safe opening to merge ; fly in because you don’t want the car behind to plow into you. The car behind has to pay attention, and make sure he/she leaves enough room. Just because you are merging onto the freeway, is no excuse to go blindly!!!


I prefer bikes whenever possible but bikes get cut off by “stupid drivers!” I think it’s time we commemorate George Carlin and his brilliant analysis of all the names we can call someone based on their relationship to our driving. That said, I also think it’s time we Americans got off our high horses and quit acting like the perfect citizen with moral high-ground who is entitled to act like a vigilante every time someone offends by acting just like we probably did yesterday.

What I mean is, while driving in various foreign contries I realized it was easy for me to say they drive in an uncivilized fashion there. However, at least people, for the most part, in those countries accept that unciviilized; i.e. they expect to get cut off. And in their way act like the Zen Dad. Once you realize that we all drive like crazy a-hole savages, or moron grandpa moses at times then it becomes much easier to accept other people’s idiocy as a simple fact of human imperfection. In Contrast, when I wag my middle finger from the seat of my bike or the driver seat what the really means is “I forgive you.”

ROAD RAGE is a big danger here in southern California. Rather than confront an idiot driver, I move out of the way. I might give a short beep of warning, but I wouldn’t consider tailgating or getting into a confrontation. I can scream loudly inside my car to “vent”, or turn on public radio to divert my attention. If Car Talk was on, I’d be able to be able to laugh, thus diluting my anger. I must choose to get back in control of my own emotions, my vehicle, and my safe driving.

  1. If you are over 50 years old you should give a polite honk and the (Ray’s) finger wave.

  2. If you are under 50 years old a polite honk and a hand wave like - “Hello, there are others on the road too ya know”.

  3. However . . . IF I owned a “Junker Car” I’d fit Railroad Ties on for the front and rear bumpers, and practice the “PIT” maneuver on the many jerks (those who think it’s funny to intentionally cut people off), idiots ( those who just don’t know any better), and semi comatose drivers out there on cell phones, shaving, brushing their teeth, reading books, or just yakking away to their passenger(s).

thelegend is right! Atsen63 is close to right. One may search the California Vehicle Code thoroughly and find no specific reference to “merging”. The code requires a driver to yield when entering a highway “from any public or private property, or from an alley”. This could be construed to mean that a driver entering a limited access highway (freeway) is entering from “public” property and therefore must yield. CVC Chapter 4 Section 21804 (a).

However, the concept of merging is very well established in California. It is incumbent upon ALL drivers in a merging situation to adjust to accommodate oncoming traffic. As thelegend points out if you are forced to slow dramatically or even stop at or near the end of an on ramp it becomes nearly impossible to safely enter the highway even in moderate traffic conditions. The oncoming driver is best served by accelerating to as close to the speed of traffic as possible. That’s why on-ramps are long (some not long enough though). Drivers in the adjacent lane only have to make minor adjustments in speed to either move ahead or drop behind the oncoming vehicle.

There are some especially “tricky” merge situations associated with Interstate 5 and California Hwy 44 in Redding. They offer excellent opportunities to practice attentive driving. The freeway is no place for finger wagging (any finger) or unnecessary horn honking. Remember there are way too many drivers like jsbrennan out there looking for an opportunity to “teach someone a lesson”!! A little more Zen might help too.

I choose the 911 method.

makes me feel invigorated.
he said with a SMILE.