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(jeff giniewicz/iStockphoto)
(jeff giniewicz/iStockphoto)

The List

Five driver habits that really grind my gears Add to ...

My daily drive is a 170-kilometre round trip - and I've witnessed a lot of strange driving behaviour during my 21-plus years commuting from God's country to downtown Toronto. Some of it has even been my own.

Easily my most frightening moment occurred back in 1997 when, as I exited round the bend from Highway 401 to go north onto Hwy. 35/115 at 2 a.m., headlights appeared suddenly before me and a car blazed past me headed the wrong way. I didn't even get a chance to touch the brakes and, had I been in the left lane rather than the right, well, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

However, that was a one-time event. It's the regular driving faux pas that really grind my gears. Such as ...

1. Queue jumpers

It's rush hour, better known as hurry up and wait. We all have some place to be but most of us know that getting two cars ahead isn't really going to make a tremendous difference in the big scheme. Try telling that to the mouth breather who zips past the bumper-to-bumper line only to dart over onto the onramp at the last moment from the middle lane, forcing all of us who have been patiently waiting our turns to brake hard.

2. Left-hand lane blockers

Yes, yes, we know. The posted highway speed limit is 100 km/h. However, that does NOT mean that you can move over to the left-hand lane, set your cruise control right at 100 and then sanctimoniously (sometimes obliviously) putter along the highway with traffic backing up behind you. Move over, Jack, and repeat this until it is seared deep into your brain: Keep right except to pass.

3. Gas pump dawdlers

Gas up and go. Please. Don't check your oil or wash your windows at a busy station - unless you pull off to the side, away from the pump first. And don't spend forever at the convenience kiosk loading up on beef jerky and smokes. It'll just make you fat and unhealthy, which means you'll take even longer to waddle back to your car. Hey, race car drivers can complete a pit stop in eight seconds - try to keep yours to less than eight minutes.

4. Parking lot prima donnas

Okay, we get it. You've spent way too much money on your fancy ride and you fear that some careless buffoon in a rusted out Chevette will ding your door. That's still no reason to straddle two parking spaces in a busy mall lot - park it instead in the far reaches of the lot and walk. Those spots are all yours. But that would defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? Who's going to see your shiny overpriced wheels if you're not front and centre? And then you wonder why anyone would key your car ...

5. Stop-sign Samaritans

Oh, these poor misguided souls. I'm talking about the driver on the right who actually gets to a four-way stop before you or at the exact same time but then sits there, unsure of who should go first. You wait, because by law, this jamoke has the right of way. He then give you an all-too-friendly wave for you to proceed and looks upset when you don't reciprocate with a smile because well, if he had exercised his right to go in the first place we wouldn't still be wasting time at this freaking intersection.

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