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Highway hassles, hazards: Which driver are you?

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I never heard about driver’s ed when I was a teenager. At age 16 I was licensed to drive after being tested on a Johnston County Model “A” Ford school bus. That bus had a gear shift in the floor that popped out of mesh unless held in place by hanging my right leg over the shift stick while reaching for the accelerator. Over the following 77 years I calculate I have driven about two and a half million miles, and without an accident.

As a driver and passenger I have observed how people drive, and I classify some driver types.

MYSTERY DRIVERS — Drivers who must think others know what they intend to do, so that when they change lanes, turn off the road or come to an intersection, they do not use a turn signal. Before motor vehicles had turn signals, it was said of some drivers that “the only thing you could be sure of when a driver extended an arm out the side window was that the window was down.”

CREEPERS — Drivers who come to an intersection and stop, and while waiting for a green light or for vehicles and pedestrians to pass, allow their vehicle to keep inching forward, encroaching ever further into the intersection and blocking cars turning from their right.

SIGNAL-SQUEEZERS — Drivers who are busier, inconsiderate, and reckless, who charge through an intersection’s red light.

LANE-CHANGERS — Drivers who must assume the highway belongs to them, who dart from one lane to another, and often without using a turn signal, thereby being a serious hazard to themselves and others.

LANE HOGS — Drivers who either are not thinking or believe the left lane is theirs alone, and continue to block the lane on an open highway without speeding up, falling back or moving over.

SPEEDERS — Drivers who habitually exceed any lawful and reasonable speed by driving 10 to 25 mph faster than the posted speed limit, thereby endangering others.

BUMPER-HUGGERS — Drivers who follow too closely, which is annoying and dangerous. They may be in heavy traffic or on a road with plenty of room to stretch out, but they continue to ride your bumper. If you speed up, they are right behind you. If you slow down to let them pass, they still hang close.

MULTIPLE CHANGERS — Drivers who compound risks by attempting more than one maneuver at a time, such as changing lanes while going through an intersection. It would be safer to complete one move before attempting another.

HORN-BLOWERS — Drivers who make excessive use of their horn. Someone defined a “split second” as “the interval between the changing of a traffic light from red to green and some fool behind you blowing his horn.” And they blow unnecessarily at other things, adding to the noise pollution. Horns, like noses, have their proper functions, but they don’t need to be blown all the time.

BOOMERS — Those drivers whose throbbing music (it could hardly be called music) can be heard and felt a block or more away. If a boomer comes near you at an intersection, with his windows down, he seems to be oblivious to the noise.

EATERS — Drivers who busy themselves with eating while they attempt to drive. Any driver must need exceptional dexterity to be able to hold food in one hand and a drink in the other while steering with elbows or knees.

PRIMPERS — Some drivers who speed along while applying makeup, combing hair, adjusting clothing and putting on earrings.

READERS — Drivers who attempt to read while they drive. But the hazards are too great while driving to be distracted by reading a book or newspaper, business documents, doing crossword puzzles or checking road maps.

CELLPHONE USERS — The total attention needed for safe driving is diminished if a driver is searching for a cellphone, dialing a phone, texting or talking with someone.

DWI DRIVERS — Overwhelming statistics disclose the hazards caused by people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

MODEL DRIVERS — Drivers who treasure life and drive with patience, courtesy and caution. Model drivers drive defensively, attempting to be prepared for the unexpected. Most “accidents” are not accidents, because they could be prevented if drivers drove with concentration, caution and courtesy. For the good of everyone, let’s drive carefully.

Ray Hodge is a retired Baptist pastor, living in Smithfield, whose E-Mail address is hodgepodge@centurylink.net.

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