The temperature is rising. Sunscreen is needed. Time to grill meats and talk about getting your protein. It’s time also for a surge in traffic-related stupidities. There’s something about summer that brings out the dumb.
We’ll never know exactly why the summer months, a season when driving conditions are closest to optimal, triggers the exact opposite result. It’s as if warm and easy-going weather serves as some sort of licence to indulge in antisocial automotive behaviour. Road rage, idiotic fender benders, lunatic lane changes – in the summer they’re all out in the open for the world to behold and lament.
Worst of all, however, is the fact that summer is the “Season of the Creeper.”
Creepers are drivers who, rather than wait their proper turn in a line-up of cars, speed ahead in an adjoining lane and then creep in front. They’re sneaky, entitled motorists who think common courtesy and basic politeness are gelato flavours. Creepers can be found everywhere but are most at home at crowded intersections. They are attracted to fast food outlets and drive-thrus.
Here’s how a creeper operates. You are waiting to turn right and you see a car (for argument’s sake, let’s say a BMW) speed by on the left. You peer up ahead. The BMW creeper has flicked on his turn signal and is nosing his way into the front of the line. You’ve been waiting 10 minutes – the creeper (thanks to cutting in line) waited 10 seconds. If he tried a move that bold in line at the movies, odds are someone would knock him out or at the very least call him on it. But he’s in a car – so it’s all good.
In the summer, construction booms create ideal conditions for creepers. Lanes are frequently blocked, closed, and diverted, generally into one congested single lane. It’s a situation that a creeper can’t resist. Waiting, after all, is for other people. They’re down with OPL (Other People’s Lanes). When confronted by lane shrinkage due to construction, the creeper exploits the last strip of empty road to blow by everyone else and then cut in at the last minute.
Creepers have, over time, developed special evolutionary traits that enable them to execute this most odious of manoeuvres. Some play the “whoops” card. As they cut into a lane their face spreads into an apologetic flourish that makes other drivers think this is the first time such behaviour has every occurred. They’re mortified and sorry. Then they cut in and speed along to the next area of congestion, where they proceed to once again creep in. This is a tactic that is popular with some female motorists who use the male stereotype against women drivers to win an advantage. “I’m just a poor woman driver – please let me in – SUCKER!”
There are also the Junkyard Creepers. These guys drive vehicles so beat up and broken that others assume they have no fear of collision. We fear their apparent lack of fear and let them in. On the other extreme are the Luxury Creepers. These drivers creep their expensive sports cars into a lane and think they are doing the rest of the world a favour.
Then there’s Old Man Creeper (he’s driving but thinks he’s at home watching CNN). Finally there’s the Minivan Ma and Pa – “Please let them creep in! Their kids are late for a lesson!” We don’t care – the only lesson these kids need to learn is that, once they grow up and have kids, not to spend money on unnecessary lessons.
Creepers do not exist in solitude. They have help. They have “floor mats” – the drivers who routinely let creepers cut in, thereby encouraging and reinforcing the behaviour. The creepers roll up and creep into a lane and the floor mats let them do it. You can understand why a floor mat would let the occasional creep slide by – what’s the alternative? Aggressively block the creeper out?
Hey, that sounds like a good idea.
Well, it sounds like one but it leads to even more congestion and holdups. And do we really want to sink to their level?
That’s the big problem with creepers. They save themselves time but they hold up traffic for the rest of us. It takes time for a floor mat to stop and let the creeper have his way. Ideally, when traffic is reduced from two lanes to one, drivers in the lane that is continuing should let one driver from the merging lane in before them. That’s an informal rule of thumb. If we do this traffic will flow. There won’t be a need for creeping. Unfortunately, we have a better chance of seeing a strong Euro this summer.
There’s no spray we can use, no repellant known to man, that can stop creepers. But you can try and keep a positive frame of mind. While you wait in traffic this summer, run this little tune through your head. It may not stop them but it will remind you not to join their ranks.
Summertime and the driving ain’t easy.
Traffic diverted down from three to one lane.
The cars are backed up so you decide to try cutting…
Brake little Creeper, don't you try,
No, no, no, no,
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy