The Devil drives a Toyota

In Lifestyle on May 13, 2011 at 10:13 am

She's probably very nice, otherwise. (Photo: Shannon Morris)

1) Angry drivers are found everywhere.  The adjacent photo came from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald.  2) Angry drivers do not fit the stereotype for misanthropes and social boors.  Here, the ‘one-finger salute’ comes from a young woman who would probably blush if she were confronted with the photo.  Maybe not.

I have a question:

How is it that most people display civil behavior afoot and then suddenly don a red suit,  grow horns, and sprout a bifurcated tail the moment they get behind the wheel of a car?

I am not talking about “bad” driving, I am referring to “angry” and “aggressive” driving and I just do not understand it.

The next time you are on your commute, take special notice of how people drive and how they interact with each other on the roads.  No, not just as the drivers impact you.  Rather, watch how drivers interact with each other.

During my last marketing adventure, I devoted about a half hour to driving around the city and observing others.  I undertook the task shortly after I witnessed a dowager in a new BMW convertible as she nearly ran over a pedestrian in the supermarket parking lot.

Despite the fact the BMW driver was well past her expiration date, her preoccupation with her facial reflection in her sports car’s mirrors (and the status of her vitamin water) was the cause of her near miss with the pedestrian.

Still, this is not the kind of driving behavior that puzzles me.  Distracted is not “angry”.

A few minutes later, I watched a gleaming Toyota as it hovered three feet off of the rear bumper of the car ahead.

NASCAR aficionados would recognize the maneuver as “drafting”.

But, drafting does not work at twenty-five miles per hour.

Suddenly the Toyota swerved into the adjacent lane, bare inches ahead of the front bumper of the car occupying that lane.  The Toyota rocketed ahead…

…and stopped at the next light, next to the car he had been drafting and three car lengths ahead of me.

The light changed to green and the car ahead of the Toyota committed the unpardonable sin of failing to move fast enough for the Toyota driver.  The Toyota’s driver hit his horn.

Once moving, the Toyota resumed drafting the car ahead.  But, unfortunately for the Toyota driver, a car ahead of the car he was drafting signaled a turn.

At the next light, I found myself next to the Toyota.  I glanced at the driver, expecting to see bulging veins, a red face, and muttering.

Instead, I saw a passive expression.  Not placid…passive.

The driver, apparently sensing he was being watched, glanced in my direction.  Caught in the act, I smiled and waved a greeting.  The man nodded and smiled.

The light changed and the Toyota resumed its competition with the other cars.


I made my way to the expressway.

Merging is obsolete for many.  Cutting across the solid white ramp lines and veering across two lanes of traffic so to immediately conquer the left-most lane has replaced merging.  The entire maneuver is completed sans turn signals.

I understand why signals are not used.  Signals used to say, “Please, I would like to merge.

When signals are used, they say “Here I come, Loser!

The penalty for using the off-ramp to decelerate is to be drafted by the car behind.

Other observations:

School zone, schmul zone.

If I don’t look at you when I pull out, you don’t exist.

Closest to the door, WINS!.

Bicyclists and pedestrians are ‘life unworthy of life’.

There was also the young woman who ran the hard red light (across four lanes of traffic)…an infant was securely bundled into the child seat behind her.

A few days previous, and likely one of the triggers for my informal research, I was exiting the ACE hardware store in Beaverdale when I heard a long horn blast from the street.

The young man blowing his car’s horn had grown impatient with the four grey-headed ladies in the marked crosswalk (complete with flashing lights and a sign telling motorists to “Yield to Pedestrians”).

It was Mother’s Day.

One common observation was universal.  All of the drivers displaying bad behavior were neatly dressed and they were driving late model cars, or were driving cars that appeared well maintained.

The drivers did not look like methamphetamine users.  But, their behavior patterns were as edgy as those of a crashing tweaker.

What is behind this?

Free floating anger?  Closet Libertarians, frustrated with “too many rules”?  Video games and reality television?  Emulation of the characters from Jersey Shore?

I honestly do not know.

I would like to know “Why?”

So come on, “Mr./Ms. Angry Driver”, tell me why you behave like you do when you are driving.  What puts the chip on your shoulder the moment you turn the ignition key?

It is a serious question.

Thanks for reading.


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