As a matter of fact, I do own the road

I love road trips. But I hate to drive.

Why? Two reasons. First, some of the other drivers on the road make me crazy. Second, I drive my passengers crazy “talking” to the other drivers.

I don’t think I’m alone.

Have you ever found yourself gesturing at other drivers (even though they can’t see you)? Or talking to them (even though they can’t hear you)?

Then you know exactly what I mean.

Maybe you’re the recipient of this silent wrath. Next time you’re on the road, look in your rear view. Notice the car practically parked in your trunk, the red-faced driver’s mouth working a mile a minute while his angrily flicker the lights on and off, on and off? Then, as he passes, you become the recipient of the one-fingered salute of frustration?

With winter holiday travel season around the corner, how do you plan to handle these curves in the road?

I’ll admit I have more than just a few particular pet peeves when it comes to highway driving. The list includes left-lane hoggers, zig-zag speeders, good-timers, hesitant merge or lane changers, slowpokes, multi-tasking lane weavers, tailgaters, road hogs and drivers who are overly-dependent on cruise control.

I can’t tell which one is worse. Can you?

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Here’s a video of a completely preventable accident. Which driver do you think is to blame, the left-lane hogging slowpoke or the zig-zag speeder?

Now, before you skewer me for asking such a question, you should know that I find both driving behaviors to be completely improper.

That’s because I adhere to a more European philosophy of driving. When road-tripping in Germany, I noted that drivers on the Autobahn stayed in the right lane unless they were passing a slower vehicle, getting out of the way of stopped traffic on the shoulder or preparing for a left exit.

That’s my style.

Here in the U.S., just about every state has a different law on the books that addresses how drivers should behave on roads with multiple lanes. And they’re getting stricter.

In fact, my home state, Florida, finally revised its law this summer. Statute 316.081 updates exceptions for driving on the right side of a roadway. The third clause states:

On a road, street, or highway having two or more lanes allowing movement in the same direction, a driver may not continue to operate a motor vehicle in the furthermost left-hand lane if the driver knows or reasonably should know that he or she is being overtaken in that lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed. This subsection does not apply to drivers operating a vehicle that is overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, or is preparing for a left turn at an intersection.

That’s much better.

If only people followed this rule. Then maybe I wouldn’t lose my temper and talk to the drivers.

That’s my other big problem with driving, my habit of talking to the other motorists.

Ask my children what it’s like when Mom’s behind the wheel and they’ll likely say, using a thick New Yorker accent, “Oh my gawd, what is he doing? What are you doing? No. No, no, no! I can’t believe he did that! Argh!”

I know my mutterings can’t be heard by the other driver and that they tend to grate on the occupants of my vehicle. But it gives me an outlet for my frustration.

It keeps me from gesturing impolitely like the man in this video. (WARNING: Offensive hand signals in this video.)

Alhough I don’t think the driver should have been taping at the same time she was operating the vehicle, she did manage to capture the moment very well. In fact, police were able to track down the tailgater and give him a ticket.

Speaking from personal experience, I think that communication is a major part of the angry driver issue. They can’t hear me and I can’t hear them. How can I know what the other motorist wants if I’m not a mind reader?

Motorists need to develop a universal system so they know when and how to signal an alert to another driver that they intend to pass. Tailgating, horn honking, gesturing and light flashing only aggravates the issue.

This video offers some great suggestions on how to communicate your intent with other driver. But best of all there’s also a suggestion on how to signal a thank you. What are your ideas?

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