Editor's Notes 2.0: Driver Types
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Editor’s Notes 2.0: Driver Types

The Wanderer. The Itchy Foot. The Tailgater. The Multitasker. We’ve all experienced these types of drivers on the road. Here is my attempt at defining them all.

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Jason Stahl has 28 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 16 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

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I was driving behind this person the other day, and they were driving me crazy (get it? “driving” me crazy? tee hee) because they couldn’t stay in the middle of their lane. They were favoring the left side, occasionally going over the line but mostly hugging it. After awhile, I was so frustrated, I found myself turning my own steering wheel to the right in hopes of subconsciously influencing them. Did their car have an alignment issue? Were they watching a video on their phone? I don’t know, but it made me think of all the bad drivers out there and how to classify them. Here is my attempt:

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The Wanderer. Unlike the person mentioned above who favors one side of the lane, this person has no bias as to where they wander. Left, right, then back again, the only thing for certain is they couldn’t stay in the middle if they tried. Maybe if you’re lucky enough, you’ll see them wander far enough over onto the berm to kick up a cloud of discarded Mountain Dew bottles and cigarette butts. When they hit the rumble strip, it jolts them awake!

The Tailgater. Self-explanatory, right? I confess to being one of them – if the person is going the speed limit or lower. Remember, you should be going 40 mph in a 35, 30 in a 25, etc. We all know that, right? Apparently not. But if I’m going 85 and that’s not fast enough for you (which has happened), I will gladly move over and let you tailgate the next car that was in front of me.

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The Multitasker. We all know this one too, right? We see them especially during our morning commute: they’re simultaneously drinking their coffee, munching on a breakfast sandwich, participating in a conference call and fixing their hair in the rearview mirror. I fly right by these people, craning my neck and giving them an incredulous look which they of course don’t notice because they’re too busy doing other things. One woman told me she pleads guilty to driving with her knees while applying makeup. We should be focused on one task and one task alone while driving, folks, and that’s driving.

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The Itchy Foot. When I was in high school, I had a friend whose mother would occasionally pick us up and drive us home. The first time this happened, I couldn’t believe what was going on. The whole ride, she would press the gas, stomp the brake, press the gas, stomp the brake. It was like riding a bucking bronco. She was wild-haired and eccentric as it was, so this driving style merely added to her legend. Another friend told me their grandmother drives like this, only she doesn’t touch the brake, she simply keeps hitting the gas and then takes her foot off it, pumping the pedal, so to speak. Nervousness? Just plain incompetence behind the wheel? Senility? You be the judge.

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The Lunatic. OK, this is the most perplexing and strange phenomena I know for which I have no explanation. Have you even been behind a person who inexplicably drives 60 mph one minute, then 80 the next, then back to 60? The actual speed isn’t important, here; it’s the discrepancy between alternating speeds. One time, I was in front of such a person, and one minute they’re tailgating me, and the next they’re a quarter mile behind me. I mentioned this to a friend one time, and he said they’re simply not paying attention, probably on the phone. Whatever. I call this driver “The Lunatic” because I am at a loss for any other term.

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The Weaver. You guys are probably very familiar with this one, too. Like a ship without a rudder, they coast across America’s highways and byways haphazardly, crossing over multiple lanes and back again while never once using their indicator. They don’t like being behind anyone, and are generally driving very fast, so they change lanes constantly, often crossing over more than one without so much as glancing to see if they’re clear. I generally slow down when I see them so I can hang back and watch a potentially entertaining accident without being involved in it. I one day hope to wave cheerily to The Weaver as I drive by their crumpled mess that resulted from their carelessness. Just the other day, I ran across a weaver who nearly clipped my front end as he coasted into my lane. I honked the horn viciously, and out came his middle finger. I drove by him to get a look, and there was no one driving. A phantom! At least it seemed like it. You see, his seat was pushed so far back, you couldn’t see him. Sitting like that, there is no chance in heck you can use your mirrors when changing lanes. He almost looked like he was in a lounge chair by a pool. And he gave me the finger.

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I hope you enjoyed my glossary of driver types. It’s nice to vent. I plan on doing it again the future when I am wronged once again on the roads. Till then, buckle up, use that indicator and go slightly above the speed limit.

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