Monday is one of the busiest driving days of the year. I myself just made a 61/2-hour drive from Boston to Philadelphia and was amazed at the bad behavior I witnessed. I'm not talking just about the cellphone infractions either.
My wife was riding shotgun and our 17-year-old was in the back after the three of us toured a few colleges in New England. I'm hoping some of those I passed on the road can read better than they drive, because this is for them:
First, for the driver of a red Honda Civic headed south on I-84, just outside Hartford. And to the woman in the metallic-blue Dodge Grand Caravan just below Stamford on I-95. And the couple on the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark Liberty International Airport in a white Ford Focus:
The left lane is for passing!
Amid lots of bad driving I witnessed while navigating through five states, the most frequently recurring offense involved those who did not respect the purpose of the left lane. Move over.
Then there was the black BMW 3-Series on the Massachusetts Turnpike. And the gray hooptie, missing trim, with painted rims, westbound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, near Route 1. Both were what I call swervers. They are the type of drivers we've all seen who dodge in and out of traffic, playing a shell game with machinery at 75 m.p.h. "Keep your eye on that guy," is my usual muttering, even when I'm driving alone. "We may see him wrapped around a pole up ahead."
I confess that I can get a bit passive-aggressive when I see swervers. If I note them approaching like a bat out of hell in my rearview mirror, I get out of their way. But if I'm in my proper lane when one of these guys starts weaving about, I'll deliberately stay put and watch them do a slow burn when they find themselves locked in a lane. Like I did to the clown driving a Porsche and blowing bubbles on my homestretch near the Blue Route. It's the best I can do until someone invents a helicopter with magnets that can be dispatched to remove the swervers.
Not as dangerous, but equally annoying, are the flip-floppers, and I'm not talking politics. I can't decide if these drivers are fueled by testosterone or cluelessness, but we've all seen them. This is the guy in the middle lane whom you begin to pass on his left, only to have him speed up. Is it subliminal? Or are such drivers consciously responding to the pass? I'm never sure, but it happens often. Decide your speed, and stick to it. And if you're too slow to be in the passing lane, see above.
Four more of my citations:
For the gray Chevy Suburban near White Plains, just because you see taillights illuminated in the far distance does not mean you need to apply your brakes, causing everyone behind you to do likewise.
Memo for the white Prius on the George Washington Bridge: Your right-turn signal has been on for two miles now.
To the 20-something near Trenton in the multicolored Camry who was texting, with only one eye on the road: Be advised that last week a New Jersey appellate court said that the person you are texting - and not just you - could be liable should you cause an accident. In a case that breaks new legal ground, the court said a person sending text messages has a duty not to text someone who is driving if the texter knows or has special reason to know the recipient will view the text while driving.
And take a letter, the lady in a blue Volvo merging onto the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike at Fort Washington. Please make up your mind. I'll let you in, but either slow down or accelerate. We both aren't going to fit in the right lane if you mimic my speed.
Finally, for the many who are seemingly stupefied by E-ZPass: You either have it or you don't. When you approach the toll plazas that are clearly delineated, find your place instead of straddling the line between two lanes. (You, with the silver Acura MDX, at the Mid-County Interchange, you know who you are!)
Speaking of which, I don't get those without E-ZPass. If concerns over Big Brother are precluding you from getting this time-saver, relax. The government is too busy with your e-mail to look at your driving.