A recent article in the Des Moines Register, Iowa drivers are the worst in the nation, according to insurance comparison website QuoteWizard, was an interesting read. I really didn’t have to read it; I know Iowa drivers are the worst. I do, however, have trouble believing insurance companies.
A few weeks ago, I had a guy in a fairly new red pickup truck pass me on the passenger side of my car. We were both traveling down a two-way three-lane street, the middle lane for left turns only. He passed me while squeezing into the bicycle lane. I didn’t think there was enough room between me and the curb, but he managed to avoid scratching either vehicle. I saw him coming. Not that long ago, the street was a four-lane street with two lanes going east and two going west. No one likes this new traffic pattern, but the city road engineers claim it will slow down traffic in the neighborhood. Their claim has been proven. Now it’s time to change back to the original four-lane street before the boiling blood of road ragers have it out on the rest of us.
The worst experience on any Iowa road is a situation in which a driver pulls out in front of you, requiring you to slow down. There was no one behind you. She could have waited until you passed through the intersection. But no, she now must slow down to make a left turn, and the traffic coming your way has no foreseeable end in sight. So, you wait, and wait, and wait. There is a vehicle in sight – about a half-mile away in the opposite lane, but be patient. Sometime later in the day that opposite lane will be clear as a bell. Meanwhile, twenty or thirty cars behind you are getting pissed. Not at her – at you!
If the preceding experience is not the worst, how about the occasion where a person is behind you, passes you and immediately slams on the brakes to take a right turn that results in you having to hit your brakes? Or a left turn? It seems as though passing you gained them an extra eleven seconds. Why does this happen all too often?
I often see a tailgater in my rear-view mirror who looks like he could take my head off, swerving back and forth to show me that he is going to pass me as soon as he sees an opening. When he sees the opportunity, he guns it past me and practically runs me in the ditch as he cuts in front of me. The next time I see him he is in the inside lane and I’m in the outside lane at the same traffic light. I love it when the light turns green, and he is stuck behind a vehicle whose driver is one of the geeks described in a paragraph above; slowing down considerably to make a right or left turn or to get into the other lane. Be prepared. He will soon be swerving behind you again, ready to pass at the next chance he gets. Don’t look. He’ll probably be fingering you as he zooms past you.
Last week, as I entered a four-lane divided highway, the woman in a car that sped past me as I entered the freeway was on the phone. She had no idea that I was coming up the ramp. That’s okay, it happens frequently, and I am supposed to yield. However, she began riding on the shoulder of the road, then back on the outside lane, then she ended up on the left shoulder of the road . . . You can’t pass people like that. I don’t think she was drunk or high, her problem was controlling the vehicle with a phone in her hand. I wasn’t the only one avoiding her. Why do drivers like that get away with their dangerous antics?
Driving down Douglas Avenue on the north side of Des Moines, we witnessed two vehicles behind us who were side-bumping each other trying to be the lead car in the single lane after the road became a 3-lane road upon being a four-lane road. This is another example of the city road engineers deciding what’s best for the commuters in Des Moines. From the mirrors, we could see that it was like a demolition derby. One car bouncing off the other. One of the vehicles attempted to make the other stop after the incident by traveling at a higher rate of speed down the middle turn lane. We had to suspect that the incident was caused because both drivers wanted to gain an advantage to be in front on the single lane road. It was time to slow down, make a left turn, and get onto the back streets. You never know when one of the vehicles’ occupants might have a loaded weapon.
I know I’m getting old. I sound like one of the old people I once made fun of. Damn! I didn’t want to be like that, but I am. I am the parent in the Progressive commercials that Dr. Rick warns us about.
Have I ever been one of “those” people above? Apart from the Douglas Avenue incident, probably. I live in Iowa. We’re the worst drivers, don’t cha know?