History of Driver Bad Behavior

I think I have noticed a change in driver behavior in the last few decades and wondered if anyone else has observed this. There have been lots of changes, tailgating for example, but there are more cars on the road which may account for much of that. I want talk about two things I think are different today than yesteryear and I wonder why.

Not Yielding
I tend to get cut off more than I used to, but that may just the more traffic I mentioned above and I try to not get upset. However there are times when there is no other traffic and they still cut me off. I chalk that up to not knowing better. The behavior I really wonder about are those who cut it so close they would hit me if I didn’t slow down and when I blow my horn they don’t stop coming. I have to take evasive action. Anyone can make a mistake and years ago at the sound of my horn they would realize something was wrong and stop what they were doing but not any more. Do they think they own the road?

Drivers Behaving Badly
It used to be when I saw some idiot, jerk, dolt, or you name it, doing something upsetting or dangerous on the road I could usually predict what kind of person he was. Lately the person behind the wheel is frequently a she instead of a he like it always used to be. Years ago it was almost never a woman. What changed that made female drivers more aggressive?

I have observed the same things, @leea. The no-yield issue seems everywhere. Just move-over and force the guy your about to hit to avoid you. Or merging into highway traffic without looking and adjusting your speed to find a spot to merge. Barge right up the ramp and insist everyone else move over for you. Turn your turn signal on to change lanes and the car in the lane you want speeds up to cut you off. Sheesh!

Women have equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to be rude on the road. No surprise there but a very large majority, in my observation, are talking on the phone so they don’t have time to pay attention or be courteous.

Do your best to avoid them and count on karma to cause two of them to meet at an intersection sometime. Then they can fight it out.

I remember seeing a car insurance commercial about early 1900s, there was a car accident at an intersection, and there were only 2 cars in Iowa at the time! I certainly notice a negative difference in driver behavior when I am driving the daughters Saturn vs my black Trailblazer.

As I have mentioned more than once in this forum, in recent years the cars tailgating me have almost always been driven by young women. And, I have observed all-too-many instances of other types of very aggressive driving on the part of women over the past few years.

As to why this is the case, I can only speculate, but I think that the transition of women into the workforce since the 1950s–coupled with the extremely competitive nature of many workplace environments–might be causing young women to be aggressive in their daily endeavors, including when they are behind the wheel.

I asked my dad, who started drving in the early 1940’s, and he said the idiots have always been with us. He gave up his keys (willingly, he’d had enough driving.) about ten years ago, but I remember him mentioning to me just before he did that that it seemed to him women were becoming much more aggressive than they used to be.

For more than 40 years, people in the DC area have not used their turn signals to alert other drivers to lane changes. It is considered a challenge, not a courtesy.

I think jerks predate cars, if fact, I sort of suspect that the breeding of trotters for harness racing got its start as a way around most communitie’s “no galloping” laws.

B.L.E. I fear jerks probably predate recorded history by millennia. I think it was Psychology 101 where we learned that continually increasing the population of lab rats even when proportionately increasing food and water supply resulted in a proportional increase of aggression. Heavy traffic frustrates me enough without inconsiderate jerks making it much worse. More drivers seem to think that waiting your turn is stupid and an unnecessary waste of their precious time.

I also tend to agree that an automobile can bring out the worst in a person

I was at a farmer’s market a few years ago, and there was somebody in the parking lot honking their horn and saying really nasty stuff

It was an older lady. She said the people ahead of her didn’t know how to drive, and that somebody ought to bust their teeth out.

I don’t know what she’s like when talking with her in a room. But put her behind the wheel, and she’s ornery

I think the increasing aggressiveness and stupidity of drivers is because we have raised several generations of children without consequences and being taught to have self esteem without reason.
I had a 3rd grade boy on my school bus tell me with crocodile tears in his eyes that I had hurt his self esteem when I yelled at him after he had punched another child without reason.
I told him, good, that is just what I was trying to do. You need less self esteem and more esteem for others.

Well yesterday. while at a traffic light, I noticed teh young lady behind me had a cell phone in one hand held to her ear, and the other hand holding onto the steering wheel AND a brown longneck bottle.

I had a 3rd grade boy on my school bus tell me with crocodile tears in his eyes that I had hurt his self esteem when I yelled at him after he had punched another child without reason. I told him, good, that is just what I was trying to do. You need less self esteem and more esteem for others.

In one way I’d be proud to actually know what self esteem was at that age.

Some years ago there was a push toward a program called “writing across curriculum”. The concept is that faculty mark English errors that they find in students’ writing, even if they choose not to detract from the students’ test scores for the errors. In some of the literature on the subject, I read of one middle school teacher of social studies who stated “I would never correct my students’ English. That would hurt their self esteem.” To me, that discloses a total lack of understanding of what self-esteem is and how it’s acquired. Self esteem is a sense of pride and confidence acquired by achieving, and protecting a student from possibly learning that he/she is making errors actually lets him/her make the errors in a public and/or job environment and have the mistakes adversely affect his/her ability to actually achieve.

IMHO we’re one, maybe two generations away from the primary and secondary schools focusing on the basics. We have a serious problem in our schools. The problem’s root is no longer what the teachers are teaching, it’s what the teachers have been taught!

Automobiles are viewed by some drivers like “the equalizer”; the six gun. It puts everyone on an equal footing physically. The meek are no longer, meek. If a driver has a bad day or psychological problems, that’s not good if he feels his SUV can win an argument with a Civic. The other problem driver I see is the " superman" mentality; a driver who feels he has the reflexes of a stud and is in complete control.

Cars are treated as private rooms where the occupants do as they like. If they thought of the car like a bicycle they would probably stop screwing around so much and start paying attention to the dangers around them. If they want to read the paper and do their makeup, they can take the bus. I can’t imagine putting on eye makeup on a lurching bus, but people do it. Admittedly, they’re mostly the sort who use way too much, so precision may not matter. Oops, missed again. I prefer them to the breakfasters, who are breaking rules and who leave messes behind. Public transit is so amusing. I don’t mind the local subways, but buses try my patience.

“The problem’s root is no longer what the teachers are teaching, it’s what the teachers have been taught!”

That might sometimes be the case. I live with two teachers and they do not let a child’s “self esteem” interfere with learning opportunities for others. They expect good group social skills and if the children do not exhibit them, they are corrected. If they continue long enough, the children are removed from the classroom and the parents are notified. From what my wife and daughter say about their colleagues, they treat classroom disrupters the same way. They both teach younger children and therefore teach all subjects. And they correct any academic errors when they find them. The children are in school to learn, and those corrections are just part of the learning experience.

speaking of bad driving behaviour . . .

Today, the light was green, and I made a right turn, but apparently I didn’t fly around the corner fast enough, because the guy behind me angrily honked at me

I fully expected him to fly past me at 50, but then he actually slowed down. While I was going 35 down the road, he was probably only going 25, because I slowly pulled away from him

I did observe that he had a hand held cell phone to his ear

So what was the point of honking at me, if he apparently wasn’t even in a hurry, after all . . . ?!

In my opinion, those are the worst and most dangerous drivers, because they’re utterly unpredictable. And with that cellphone pressed to his ear, you can be quite sure he’s not driving carefully, either

When I’m on the freeway, and I see the guy next to me has a handheld phone pressed to his ear, I often try to move over one more lane, so that he’s not directly next to me, anymore. I’ve seen too many of these bozos so engaged in their useless phone conversation, that they move over one lane, without looking, without using their turn signal. As if they are the king, and everybody has to move aside

I see this often. The smart move is exactly what you’re doing… get distance between you and them. As you said, they’re dangerous. In NH there is a “distracted driving” law, but it’s only used to establish liability in accidents. IMHO it would be unrealistic to expect cops to try to enforce it. They do when the see it, but it’s like a “personal foul” in an NFL game; they can only catch a small percentage.

Its a jungle out there be safe.