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Odd Driving Behaviors

One driving behavior that I’ve never been able to wrap my head around is random braking.

I’m talking about when I’m behind someone on a road and every now and then, maybe about every 30 seconds, they hit the brakes. They don’t slow down very much, but the brake lights go on and alert everyone to the behavior. This can go on for many miles so I’m sure these aren’t lost people looking for the street they need to turn onto. They are driving at or under the speed limit so it isn’t as though they keep letting their speed get away from them and have to brake because of that. It drives me crazy that I have no idea what is going on, or what the driver is about to do.

Does anybody drive like this or know someone who does? Provide a little insight as to why this happens

Edit: Forgot to mention this happens with no cars on the road in front of them, so it can’t be that they are being wary of their distance to other cars.

In most cases I have suspected it was the brake pedal dragging and dropping down a little, activating the brake light, rather than the person actually hitting the brakes. There is no way a person can tell if their brake lights are on or not or intermittantly flashing, unless they stay on when its parked in the garage.

I used to teach people…young and old…how to drive safely years ago. A lot of them insisted on “riding the brake” or using the left foot to brake. Once I got them to stop their habits and drive correctly…they became safer drivers. The course was through a local vocational school for drivers who were already licensed to drive. I’m sure those that insisted on riding the brake…actuated their brake lights constantly while driving.

Often drivers tap the brake to signal the car behind them to back off. Do you allow more space when the car ahead of you is regularly braking?

@"Rod Knox"‌ In these situations, no. This braking scenario usually happens around 35mph, and there are 3-4 car lengths between me and the car ahead, so I wouldn’t think this is a signal to back off.

I see it once in a while on the road. As missleman wrote, it is very likely that those people you’ve seen are riding their brakes. It’s unsafe and causes undue wear on the car’s brakes.

Quite often it’s people who have their left foot on the brake pedal and are using it as a footrest, thinking they aren’t pressing it hard enough to start braking, but they are pressing it just enough to activate the brake lights.

I’ll offer a different possible explanation, although it may not apply in many cases:

Years ago, I had a very weird boss, and among his many strange habits was his apparent inability to talk to passengers in his car without turning to look at them. Yes, even the ones in the rear seat.

Anyway, every time that Chatty Jerry turned to talk to a passenger, he would simultaneously hit the brake. Then, once he faced forward again, he would hit the gas to compensate for the braking. The net effect of Jerry’s Pedal Two-Step was not quite severe enough to cause whiplash, but it was sufficient to cause mild nausea in many of us.

When you combine that mild nausea with the fear of an accident because his eyes were off the road far too often, riding with him was an extremely unpleasant experience.

"Anyway, every time that Chatty Jerry turned to talk to a passenger, he would simultaneously hit the brake."

That could be fatal on the highway.

“Once I got them to stop their habits and drive correctly”

Of course we’ve had this arguement before but I have driven 50 years using my left foot for the brake. I don’t consider it incorrect but rather reduces response time. In our 55 alive classes, we are told many times in many instances to “cover the brake”-that is to put your foot over the brake pedal to be ready to take action when you are spotting a potentially dangerous situation. I don’t ever by accident hit the brake pedal but maybe some do this when they are covering the brake as they were instructed.

Riding the break is different than covering the brake.

Everybody should cover the brake when approaching an unknown situation. If using your left foot works for you, that’s fine. My guess is the reason that is not recommended is to lessen the chances of someone using the brake at the same time as stepping on the gas. It also lessens the odds of developing the bad habit of riding the brake.

"That could be fatal on the highway."

Is it any wonder that most of us truly dreaded riding in his car?

I agree with the left foot braker theory. Less common is people that use their turn signal if the person in front of them is turning, even though they have no intention of turning. Not big enough to have an opinion one way or another.

Probably a drunken driver, or one that is tripping on lsd as they drive… Or a left foot braker.

I guess I didn’t add this into the first post initially, but this happens when there are no cars on the road in front of them, so they wouldn’t be covering the brake in anticipation of anything happening.

Does their behavior enrage you?

Or are you just trying to understand it?

I suppose my number one peeve is having to watch out for people tjat think red is green. Now I am watching, a few friends broadsided while not watching for a red light runner,

I see that braking thing every once in a while @starman1 . It seems like it is more likely to be an elderly driver, but not always. It’s frustrating b/c you don’t know if they are going to come to a complete stop for some unknown reason, or just continue down the road at the same speed. It’s mostly on lower speed roads, rarely the freeway. There’s not a lot you can do, other than stay well behind or go around. One good thing, I don’t notice it very often. I doubt it is the cause of very many accidents.

For accident causing odd driving behavior, I’d say the worst is drivers making illegal u-turns. u-turns at places where u-turns are not allowed, where other drivers are not expecting it. There’s a spot near my house where a two-way (divided by a barrier) turns into one-way. Drivers decide they don’t want to get on the one-way, so they make an illegal u-turn at the end of the barrier. Many accidents occur there, some pretty serious. A motorcyclist got killed a few year back.


In regards to those red light runners . . .

A few times in the past, I sensed that the guy with the red light wasn’t going to stop.

So I delayed . . . sure enough, the guy barreled right through his red. If I hadn’t been paying close attention, I would have gotten t-boned

In both instances, I had a green left arrow, and the guy barreled right through his red

George . . . I hear you, about those illegal u-turns and illegal turns. Unfortunately, there’s quite a few places near my house, where people make really bad decisions. In some cases, they don’t even seem to look what’s around them before making their super illegal u-turns. It makes me wonder who taught them how to drive like that. The good news is that I have, to some degree, learned to anticipate drivers who will make a bad decision, or learn which intersections seem to invite bad driving behavior

About the only time I see the illegal U turns is on the interstate, but I have to say I think the DOT has some fault in the whole thing. If they are working on the road, the information signs will be past the last exit, then a mile down you are at a dead stop and 9 miles to go to the next exit. Had the warning signs been placed in time to take an alternate route, people wouldn’t feel it necessary to choose between an hour in stop and go traffic or an illegal U turn. Been there myself but I’m careful. One poor schmuck tried backing up the entrance ramp he just passed but a patrolman was right there at the top with no mercy.