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road sage

The banged-up champagne-coloured Jetta crossed two lanes without signalling, narrowly cutting off a convertible just released from its winter hibernation. Meanwhile, in the passing lane, a minivan chugged obliviously along at 85 km/h, forcing motorists to dart out to the right and pass. Up ahead, a Ford F-150 stopped cold for no apparent reason and almost triggered a pileup. Shortly afterward, three street racers darted through the highway traffic, going around 140, unmolested by law enforcement.

Yep. It was Saturday morning.

Say what you will about the weekday rush hour and its never-ending traffic jams, at least commuters are experienced drivers. True, this experience is similar to that had by long-term residents of Hell. Just as sinners know when coffee breaks are and what day Lucifer holds his two-for-one "make your own sundaes but you then can't eat them" events, commuters expect the worst and for the most part try to prepare for it.

On Saturday morning, it's a whole new level of bad. In fact, I'd argue that Saturday mornings are the most chaotic and dangerous times to drive.

Let's look at the lineup.

At the top of the list, we have the hangover brigade – drivers who were too drunk to drive at 3 a.m. but, for some reason, think they're okay to drive at 7 a.m. Let's call them "drunks."

How do you spot these guys? Easy. They drive like they're inebriated. In other words, they drive very slowly and carefully (hoping not to raise attention) or they drive like Bo and Luke from The Dukes of Hazzard. These drivers may not be as hammered as they were the night before, but they are most certainly impaired.

Here's a quick quiz you can use to determine whether you should be out Saturday morning. Answer yes or no to the following:

1) I just threw up.

2) I'm covered in vomit but don't remember throwing up.

3) I wish I could throw up.

4) I have a vague memory of throwing something last night.

5) Last night I passed out and a cat slept on my face (and I'm allergic to cats).

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should not be driving.

Also out Saturday morning, along with the legions of the morning-after, are those who are too frightened to drive on a weekday, but, since it's Saturday, they feel comfortable getting behind the wheel. Let's call them "dabblers."

What drives these trembling souls to climb into their Nissans and Mazdas? Generally speaking, it's an errand that must be run. They have to get to Costco or some other such consumption temple. I like to think of these drivers as stupid and energetic. They don't know how to drive, but they're working really hard at applying all the things they don't know. Common moves include abruptly cutting across traffic to make the exit they are about to miss and holding up traffic while waiting to turn left while ignoring all the signs that say "No left turn."

Another Saturday morning special is the weekend automotive enthusiast; let's call him the "roadster." This guy knows how to drive. He loves cars and he reserves Saturday mornings once the snows have gone as the special time that he unwraps his prize possession – usually a convertible. On his own, this guy is fine but when you put him on the road with the above-mentioned drivers it can be a bad mix.

The roadster has waited all week to enjoy his high-performance vehicle. He's pushing it a bit. Let's be honest. Going a bit fast. Enjoying the road. On a clear patch of highway, he'd be fine, but throw him in with the drunks and the dabblers and you have trouble. Last Saturday, I saw the aftermath of such a scenario: a gorgeous white Jag that had been rear-ended by a Ford (that had been rear-ended by a Volvo that had been-rear-ended by another Ford).

The last of the Saturday morning cast can be found behind the wheel of any minivan. We'll call them "parents."

This is the nuclear family presented by Camus. It's eight in the morning and ma and pa have been up since five. It's early and they're staring down the barrel of a long weekend. The effects of the first three coffees they drank is wearing off. The twitching is starting and the sniping has begun ("I thought you were going to record Grey's Anatomy." "I thought you were!").

So the hapless parents seek solace in the minivan. They buckle the brood into their space-age car seats and start driving. Where are they going? It doesn't matter. Just drive!

Just keep driving. It's like the movie Speed but instead of the vehicle blowing up (which the parents would consider a blessing) the children start bawling if the minivan comes to a stop. So the parents roll through stop lights and breeze through yellows. They drive on in perpetual motion until the little demons in the back seat finally collapse into fitful slumber (during which time they dream up new torments to inflict). When this state has been achieved, it's time for the parents to pull over and block traffic. One stays in the car guarding their tiny captors while the other runs errands – buying coffee, groceries, liquor, condominiums.

Drunks, dabblers, roadsters and parents – Saturday morning driving ain't what it used to be.

Personally I've had it. Next week, I'm sleeping in. Maybe I'll have my favourite dream again: Cruising Los Angeles in a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible. Sunshine. No traffic (I said it was a dream). Driving for hours. The warm breeze. Beautiful.

Somebody get me an Ambien.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy