Maybe it’s Thanksgiving’s impending arrival that has me thinking about the latest species of driving vermin to hit our streets.
The harvest holiday, after all, is a time we are grateful for what we have and even more grateful for the various terrible fates we have avoided. Let me tell you, if you have avoided the most recent highway turkey then you are indeed truly blessed. He’s a unique and unwelcome addition to the bad driving lexicon, a thoroughly modern mixture of arrogance, selfishness and blind stupidity.
I’m referring, of course, to the “wingman.”
Never met him? Here’s what to expect.
The wingman is a close relative to the “creeper,” the driver who, rather than wait his turn, inches along a line of traffic and then attempts to butt in at the front. It’s a snivelling manoeuvre that violates most rules of polite driving. We’ve all done it at one time or another, but to creepers this move is the default approach to dealing with traffic congestion.
The wingman goes one step further. He doesn’t bother trying to butt in.
You will be turning right, a simple enough procedure, and then as you glance to your left you see another car making a right turn at the same time you are. As you make your legal turn he is right there by your side driving in formation.
Meet the wingman.
How is this possible? How can someone else be turning right? You are making a legal turn from the right lane. There is no other way to make a right-hand turn. That’s where you are mistaken. To the wingman the rules governing turning lanes are just mild suggestions. Something for plebes and fools to follow.
The wingman turns right from the middle lane for the same reason rock stars marry super models – because he can.
He executes this completely illegal and dangerous move by driving down the centre lane of a four-lane street, usually passing a long line of cars waiting patiently to turn right. The wingman doesn’t slow down, doesn’t hesitate a moment, he drives down the centre lane and turns right. He can make the same move when going left. He cruises down the empty lane and then turns left from the right-hand lane.
Is it legal? No. Is it safe? Absolutely not.
The wingman can’t see pedestrians crossing (unless he has x-ray vision) because he can’t see through your car. So, while you brake for that little old lady or mother and child, the carefree wingman does not. He keeps driving. Faster than you can say head injury, he’s running over an unsuspecting pedestrian or cyclist. But what does he care? He has an important meeting or a haircut to attend.
Besides, if something does go wrong, he’ll be “sorry.” That’s one thing you can count on. If he hits someone you can guarantee he’ll be really “sorry.”
Isn’t that comforting? Some poor person will be laid out across the pavement and he’ll be sorry. Now that he is in trouble he’s suddenly developed a brain and a conscience. Who knows, he might even cry, at least when he’s in front of a judge. Of course, he’ll claim it was an accident.
The truth? It’s criminal negligence. You don’t need to be a genius to realize how dangerous this move is.
I started noticing the wingman about three years ago and at first he was a rarity. So rare you’d actually be shocked by the behaviour. Some moron would turn left from the right-lane of a three lane road and you’d exclaim, “Did you just see that?”
Now it’s common. Show me a busy intersection and I will show you a flock of wingmen drunk on self-importance, putting everyone else in jeopardy. The other day I saw a line of them make an illegal left-hand turn from the far right lane, around a bus that was making a legal left turn. One of the offenders was driving a cement truck.
Now, I don’t advocate road rage. It’s an abomination. Yet, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to influence this behaviour through some form of corporal punishment? Nothing as extreme as the lash, something more measured something with cultural ties to our nation’s history.
What about the pillory?
We could erect a few of these at intersections and use them to punish driving offences. When a wingman is caught doing his business he would have his head and hands stuck through two hinged wooden boards that would then be locked together to secure him. He would become the object of public scorn and ridicule. A sign could be placed beside him reading, “I turned left from the right lane.” Passing motorists could fling rancid fast food, hot coffee and stale Timbits at him.
It may seem a bit dated, but if people are going to drive like it’s 1779, they may as well be treated to the same admonishments.
I’m kidding, of course. Apologies in advance, however, if someone from the Harper Government reads this and decides to pass it into legislation by tucking it in an Omnibus Bill.