June 13, 2007

Random Commuter Observation

Have I mentioned before my distain for Murr'land drivers? I have? Well, too bad, because I'm going to do it again.

Friends, I've driven over a goodish part of this great nation of ours, and the more I see, the more convinced I am that Murr'landers are by far the worst damned drivers on the road. It isn't necessarily excessive speed or aggressiveness (although there is plenty of that). No, it is simply their utter and insane unpredictability. No matter where he is, no matter how fast or slow he's going, you simply never can tell what a Murr'land driver is going to do next. Highway, byway, side street, parking lot or driveway, he has only one rule - to act bat-shite crazy.

This morning's case in point illustrated this rule beautifully. I got stuck behind a Potomac Floral van as I wended my way to the metro. The driver's apparent philosophy with regard to intersections was to keep all of his options open, only deciding which way he was going to go after the last possible second had passed. By a curse of Fate, he and I happened to be headed along the same route, and more than once he nearly took my fender off by vearing back in front of me after having taken a short detour in another completely different direction.

Oh, he did decide to stop and get his bearings once. That would have been in the left-turn lane of a very busy intersection. He sat there for quite a considerable time, allowing the green arrow to ripen into a nice, shiny red.

Goddam Murr'land drivers.

Posted by Robert at June 13, 2007 08:48 AM | TrackBack

According to a survey put out by the insurance industry, Rhode Island was in last place for the last 2 years, but upon making the test harder and asking more behavioral questions, NY, NJ, DC, and MA all scored worse this year. I always wondered how the Massholes could be better than RI. Not that RI is any picnic, mind you. MD does not hold a candle to New England for idiocy on the road.

But the real sucks to be you news? VA (#41 / 51) scored far worse than MD (#25 / 51). Its all you Yankee transplants down in the NoVa area, I say. But hey, at least yall still managed to beat West Virginia. By two places.

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Posted by: John at June 13, 2007 09:46 AM

I concur about Maryland drivers. Bahstahn drivers you can count on to drive the wrong way on a one way street. New Yorkers (the city) -- just drive aggressively and assume the other drivers will as well (and don't drive a car you care about).

Southerners all think they're driving at a NASCAR race. Out in the Pacific Northwest they are all polite -- to a fault at times.

DC is bad, just not quite as bad as Maryland.

Posted by: rbj at June 13, 2007 10:07 AM

I had a look at that survey and I'm not sure I'd pass it, given that the questions seem to contain a lot of those "how many feet" nuggets that you memorize for your driver's exam and promptly forget afterwards.

It's true that there are lots of bad drivers in New England and the Mid-Atlantic (including Virginia). But most of this bad driving is over-aggressiveness. Although I don't like it, I can deal with it - with an aggressive driver, you at least have some instinctive sense of what he's going to do next.

The trouble with Murrlanders is that their driving technique is simply divorced from reality. And it's this absolute unpredictability that gives me the willies. Could be anybody - a little old lady duffing along at 15 mph or some dude lane-surfing in his Pontiac. If they've got Maryland plates, you simply cannot know what's coming next.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at June 13, 2007 10:10 AM

Yeah, the GMAC survey has to be taken with a grain of salt - I'm not sure that some of the behavioral questions are fair. I was just pulling your chain. But I've lived in VA and I've lived in Western MD (round about Antietam), and I now live in CT. When I was a kid, we used to complain about WVA and Baltimore drivers. VA didn't enter the picture, and native Marylanders probably remember the "Please Drive Gently" signs that used to sit on the MD side of every bridge over the Potomac.

But MD and VA drivers have changed since I lived there, and I seriously do blame it on the out-of-state tranaplants moving into government jobs in that area.

For sheer unpredictability, RI has any state I've ever driven in beat, followed closely by NJ. MA drivers tend to come in only the too slow or too fast flavors. But the NE is the worst area I've ever driven in. I blame a lot of it on city dwellers who get no practice and only take the car down from Boston or up from NY once or twice a month.

Posted by: John at June 13, 2007 10:47 AM

John, having lived in New Hampshire and DC, I can tell you that DC area drivers are far worse than Boston drivers. And Robbo is correct that in this region, the Maryland drivers are the worst.

Posted by: jen at June 13, 2007 01:10 PM

Out in the Pacific Northwest they are all polite -- to a fault at times.

Guilty as charged. I've spent a minute or more at a 4-way stop sign ding the hand-gesture "No, please -- after you" argument with a fellow Oregonian who came to a stop milliseconds before I did.

Sadly, in our larger cities, I am starting to see -- and mimic -- more aggressive behavior on the road. But for the most part, what rbj says is true, and not just on our roads.

Posted by: Boy Named Sous at June 14, 2007 11:33 AM