The good driver thread

Lately on the boards there have been quite a few threads about bad drivers. Quite understandable considering most of us have to deal with them everyday and there seems to be enough bad drivers to make us wonder if the mafia has called a hit in on us.

But just to change the pace for a moment I thought I’d relate a story about how a good driver saved my butt.

Good drivers are easy to overlook. You don’t think about them because they don’t cause you any reason to pay attention to them. You don’t remember the 100 drivers you shared the road with that caused you no problems, you remember the one jerk who swerved all over the place - passing you three times because he was in such a hurry and had a knack for chosing the lane that would slow down a moment after he entered it.

The key to a good driver is predictability. Being too predictable in many things would make you dull and tedious. Predictability is a career ending flaw for a mystery writer - a fatal flaw for a military strategist. But being predictable as a driver will go a long way to keeping you out of trouble. If other drivers know what you’re going to do before you do it, they can adjust for it and everyone can avoid doing the twisted metal mambo. My story is about a good predictable driver who suddenly did something unpredictable.

It was dark and I was driving down 75 South in the middle lane and got behind this other car who was moving along at a good clip. We came up on a slower car and so the car in front of me signaled and past it in the left lane. He kept good distance at all times, he made nice smooth lane changes. I have a long trip to work, so I was behind this guy for some time. He was easy to follow. He never tailgated the car in front of him, only braked when he actually had to.

Suddenly he swerved into the middle lane. No signal, no apparent reason. It was behavior that simply didn’t fit in with the careful way he had been driving. I only had a split second to decide what to do. I checked my mirror, saw the middle lane was clear and bolted into the middle lane. As I made my move I saw lying in the left lane a giant chrome bumper. The kind they use to make back in the 70’s. Fifty pounds of iron that could double as a boat anchor. It would have ripped my tires off, chewed up my underside, and probably used my muffle as a toothpick.

So following a good driver saved me from a really bad day.

That’s “muffler” near the bottom there.

Ah how I hate my typing skills.

I followed a good driver once.

That was until Tiger Woods got a restraining order…

Blackclaw, what we need is a hand sign that is intended to compliment the recipient - the opposite of the finger. Maybe a “tip of the hat” gesture, or a salute?

My good driver story isn’t nearly as dramatic, but it does stand out in my mind.

This was in Houston traffic, where all other vehicles on the road apparently consider you their enemy. I was driving along at a good clip, with the faster portion of traffic. In front of me was an SUV, the lane next to me was filled with slower moving vehicles. I figured I was in for miles of annoyance.

But then the unthinkable happened. The SUV driver signalled, changed into the lane that was going her speed, and let me pass! I took the time to smile and wave at her on my way by.

Thank you, good courteous drivers.


I’ve considered using a thumbs up or OK signal, but have always worried that seen through a window the signal could be misinterpreted.

I had the same experience, but there was a milk crate in the road, not a bumper. I watched the guy behind me hit it (he didn’t follow my example) and saw it go pinball-style bouncing off all the other cars. Kinda neat, but probably caused some good amount of scratches and dents on the other cars.

For hand signals, there’s always that little “thank you” wave, or an old fashioned thumbs up. What I need is a universal “my bad” signal. A few times in my five years of driving I’ve done something dumb (even good drivers have bad days) and I want to signal the person I almost hit to say that I fucked up and I apologize. I never know what to do, and I can feel this person’s eyes burning through me. I watch them closely to make sure they don’t follow me home.

By the same principle, I try not to be too pissed at people that do stupid things, since they might be good drivers on a bad day. We’re human, nobody is perfect (but I’m damn close). Of course, if there’s a second or third stupid thing, then I get pissed.