Driving in Oklahoma
© Kelv - November 13th 2003
In many areas of the United States the car is king, with mass transit something of a joke. Oklahoma is no exception, with roads bursting at the seams with a relentless onslaught of vehicles.
In my relatively brief time as a driver in said state, I have observed plenty of bad driving. Here are a few of the most common ones likely to induce a steady flow of expletives from myself and likeminded individuals.
Driving far below the speed limit
There's nothing worse on a Monday morning than being stuck behind someone doing 30mph in a 40mph zone. One might think I was referring specifically to the elderly and their Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs but no. These drivers are often 40 something and sport a fancy new Lexus or some other high end set of wheels quite capable of whipping my poor car.
Driving far below the limit, tag team style
To heighten frustration, the 30 in a 40 types will form a tag team to block you in both lanes. They have no ambition of getting to the light before it changes to red, in fact they're likely happy to stay in their relaxed dream like state there when it turns green again too.
Too timid for right on red
You're coming up to the intersection and the lights are changing to red, but that's ok, you're going right and there's a green arrow in the right turn only lane. How perfect? Alas you get in lane only to be stuck behind some twit who wastes every window of opportunity to make that right turn, no matter how huge a timeframe they have. Sometimes they'll even stop when the green arrow is still up, somewhat akin to those types that don't take out their wallet until they're asked to pay at the cash register, but that's another story.
Stopping distance? What's that then?
In an effort to be safe, any sane driver tries to maintain a stopping distance between themselves and the vehicle in front of them. Alas there are always those idiots who either just realised they were in the wrong lane or thought they'd cut ahead in traffic who think it is quite acceptable to use your stopping distance as space for their car. After all, who needs more than a couple of inches to stop at 40mph? Alas you aren't even safe from this mindless behaviour on the highways where one would think an ounce of common sense might kick in.
Ignorance blocks the turn lane
You just need a little more space to get into that left turn lane, and hope the driver in front witnessing your plight will budge forward if they can. Often I have been that person in front too, and my personal rule at the intersection is to be far enough back from the person in front that you can see their rear wheels, and if not then you're too close and the person behind will just have to wait. Of course, if a few feet of road is also visible then why not be nice and move forward a little?
Alas not everyone thinks like that, and often they'll have the space, have glanced at you in their wing mirror and can see your indicator flashing, and decide to sit there so you miss your turn light. A quick toot on the horn might work, but more often provokes a nasty glare, the finger, and maybe even further delay once they should be moving just to upset you.
Of course I can left on red.. I'm a soccer mom
If a driver misses their left turn light they're supposed to stop and wait until the next one, except as seems to be increasingly the case, they own an SUV, Hummer or truck in which case they can just keep on coming even when the drivers going the opposite way have green. Dangerous? Of course, but they care not. A long blast on the horn does sometimes make them feel guilty, though often the finger is raised instead. The cash strapped cops could make a fortune busting people for that.
Red to green and back, but have we moved?
You'll be stuck maybe five or ten cars back at a busy rush hour intersection and much to your jubilation the lights go green, yet strangely the line of cars in front of you fails to move. A couple of cars get moving, but the lights revert to red, and you let out a sigh in frustration. Why don't they move? I'll tell you!
In every such line of traffic there is without fail a minority few that will be looking at their dash and yapping on cellphones, or applying their make up, rummaging for cigarrettes, eating, drinking, looking at the passenger they're chatting to, and generally doing anything but paying any attention to the world outside their vehicles. What a crazy idea that is!
Merging on the highways
Onramps and merge lanes are often way too short, but to counter this there is usually always a merge sign to warn drivers that people might be trying to get onto the highway. It is simple enough most of the time for those already on the highway to move to the left lane and leave those merging a little space to get over, and you would think in the interests of safety they might do that. Alas many ignorant types are quite happy to sit in the right hand lane, even if it means merging traffic will run out of lane and slow to a crawl or stop. If like me your car isn't a Ferrarri F40 it can be hard if you have slowed right down to get up to 60/65mph fast enough after such an incident. Blasts of the horn ensue.
Crawling along the onramp
Almost as bad as those who won't budge for merging traffic are those who decide they can merge at 30 miles per hour onto a free flowing 65mph highway.
Lights and night / fog driving
There's nothing worse when driving at night than some twit blasting his lights in your rear view mirror. Likewise one can marvel at the stupidity of those who don't actually bother with lights at night, or in fog. Just recently there had been heavy fog with maybe 20 to 30 feet of visibility in my area, yet driving to work in the morning I noticed at least 10 to 15 vehicles, several of which were white, the drivers of which didn't feel the need to bother with silly things as headlights.
Needless to say, I'm rarely surprised at the list of accidents around town any more. There are just too many idiots on the road, but what can one do about it? The often voiced Okie mantra quotes "If you don't like it, get the hell out of Oklahoma". Alas it's probably the same elsewhere.