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Northbound traffic on York St. in Toronto (file photo). (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
Northbound traffic on York St. in Toronto (file photo). (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

Road Sage

Confessions of a dangerous driver Add to ...

We all make mistakes. We all occasionally say things we regret.

This fundamental truth extends to the realm of the automobile. Drivers do things in the confines of their cars that they would never do anywhere else. For instance, imagine that you’re walking down the street and a person almost bumps into you. He comes close but there’s no contact. Would you turn and hurl a stream of expletives at him? Try to run him off the sidewalk? Would you follow him on foot for three kilometres?

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I hope not.

Yet, if that same person was driving and almost clipped your car, the odds are that you’d lose it a little. You might even lose it a whole lot. You might even wallow in a proverbial bout of road rage.

Let’s face it, drivers are like animals – except that animals don’t have the capacity for rudeness or the compulsion to “teach” those they feel have slighted them a lesson. Scratch that. Drivers are nothing like animals. If, instead of building self-driving cars, we could teach legions of chilled-out golden retrievers to drive, our roads might be in better shape. Drivers are rude, obnoxious and at times violent. They are the epitome of what is it to be human.

In case we were having any doubts about this fact, the people at the website Insurance.com recently released a breakdown on our barbaric highway behaviour. They polled 1,000 people (500 men, 500 women) and came up with a long list of what goes down and who is responsible.

Here’s a sample:

  • Swore in front of the kids while driving: 37 per cent (women 44 per cent; men 30 per cent).
  • Driven to front of a merge then swerved and cut in: 12 per cent (women 11 per cent; men: 13 per cent).
  • Sped up to block another car with its signal on: 9 per cent (women: 8 per cent; men: 10 per cent).

There are 16 sins listed on the website along with more general statistics. While it makes for interesting reading, I believe they’ve missed a few. There are as many examples of motoring misconduct as there are drivers – we’re just too accustomed to them to pay much attention. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “After the first blush of sin comes its indifference.”

As always, Road Sage is here to help. Here are my additions to the already long list of driving infractions – and a sense of how many drivers commit the crime.

The several sins of highly irritating drivers and passengers

  • While a passenger, pull visor down to use mirror, making it virtually impossible for driver to see out window so he can turn right: one person (you know who you are).
     
  • Sit at green light not moving because you’re reading your text messages or tweets or some other “t” word and then finally snap to and slowly go through the intersection, but by then the light’s gone red and I can’t pass through: at least two people in past week (gender unknown).
     
  • Renovate a house on residential street and park your crappy Ford F-150 on wrong side of the road, practically blocking street because you’re too lazy to walk a few dozen feet: 98 per cent of contractors.
     
  • Snake through traffic at high speed as if in F1 race, yet somehow you know driver is too important to be paying attention: 100 per cent of Audi owners.
     
  • Have no idea how to parallel park. The demographics adhere to the following equation: Cost of Car times Age of Owner divided by Dents Above Rear Right Tire minus Number of Child Seats plus Amount of Coffee Consumed equals Inability to Parallel Park.
     
  • Turn left despite the presence of three “No Left Turn” signs: almost everyone who goes to the Esso station near my house.
     
  • Think it’s okay to text while driving on highway because they are holding their mobile device with both hands and both hands are sticking through the steering wheel, so in a way they are following proper “both hands on the wheel” driving practices: at least one guy I’ve seen this week.
     
  • Probably angry at a world that seems disproportionately angry at them: most Pontiac Sunfire drivers.
     
  • It’s 8:03 a.m. but already thinking about lunch: anyone driving a cube van.
     
  • Spend a quarter of an hour lined up at Timmie’s drive-thru: Canadians.

There, that’s a start. Odds are I’ve missed a few. If you notice any glaring omissions please don’t hesitate to send them in. Just not while you’re driving.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

Send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

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