My dad told me a few times before I ever learned to drive that 90% of driving safely is watching out for all the idiots on the road. The other 10% is not being an idiot yourself. I don’t see too many terrible drivers in Michigan, which might be a little bit surprising given all the college students and (yeah, I’ll say it) immigrants who live around here, but of course I’ve seen my fair share of stupid.
One big mistake that seems to get a lot people into trouble (perhaps more accurately, other people into trouble) is when bad drivers don’t follow through with the decision they’ve made. Either they’re indecisive, or they make a mistake and think they can undo it right then. They get into the left-turn lane and realize they need to go straight, so they refuse to turn when the left-turn light turns green and 10 people behind that car are trying to explode it with their minds, and so they turn their wheel to the right and creep forward/right about 6 inches in an embarrassing attempt to fool people into thinking they actually care enough to get out of the other left-turners’ way. They don’t. They neither care about the inconvenience their mistake has caused to others, nor do they know how to avoid causing this problem in the future. The solution is to follow through with your decision and fix it later, not undo it now. If you make a decision, you have to stick with it and correct it at the right time, which is usually not immediately.
That is also something my dad taught me, though I don’t remember if it was a specific “lesson” or just something I picked up from his yelling at the idiots on the road. You have to do something; you can’t just sit there. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong or if it’s right, you have to do something and either live with it or correct it later.
I observed a stupid lady who just sat there, almost in the middle of an intersection, this afternoon. She was probably in her early- to mid-60’s. So not old and senile and farmers-market-ramming yet. But I was waiting to turn left at a red light, first in line, and when my left-turn arrow changed green, I noticed that she was driving right on through the intersection, towards me. Well, not at me, because she was in the right lane going straight in the opposite direction from me. But she went straight through the intersection despite the fact that we had a left-turn arrow. She must have been pretty clueless, though, because she hadn’t had a green light for quite a while; the cars going perpendicular to us had had the green lights for the last 30 or 60 seconds, so she wasn’t running a yellow light or anything like that. She just came to the intersection and barged right through despite the fact that her light was pure red and had been for a good minute. Unbelievable in itself, but normal stupidity was no match for her. After she got most of the way through the intersection, just about even with me, she stopped and sat there. I went ahead with my left turn, and so did the cars behind me, and she was still stopped there. I looked back over my left shoulder out my back-left window, and she was still stopped there. I think after 5 or 10 seconds she moved.
Why the hell did she stop there?! She wanted people to know that she realized her mistake and was aware she wasn’t supposed to go through the intersection at that time, so she stopped before she got more than 95% of the way through it? Was that her version of stopping “over the line” after deciding not to run the red light at the last second? If you make a mistake of that magnitude, you should keep on driving so no one sees the end-result of your mistake, such as a cop. Continue on your merry way and get out of everyone else’s.
Aaaaaannnnnd another thing: What is it with people and 4-way stops? I swear to god, some people are either constitutionally incapable of understanding how a 4-way stop works, or they have a visual-mental defect that prevents them from discerning who was at the line first, or they know exactly what they’re doing but simply think their time is more valuable than everyone else’s. I know my 4-way-stop record is not perfect, but people need to be much more observant and courteous.