During the past three weeks, I’ve had occasion to drive on US interstate highways for more than forty-five hours. Hours of enjoyment, heightened alert, and sheer terror. That I survived is a tribute to my (ahem) considerable driving skills.
Safely home now, I’ve been reflecting on the experience. Specifically, I’ve been trying to reconcile two things: the probable personality types of those who shared (and sometimes hogged) the roads with me, and their driving patterns.
First, a word about mine. I tend to set the cruise-control at a speed appropriate to the driving conditions, perhaps a few miles over the limit, and cleave to the right-hand lane. As I overtake slower traffic, I signal a lane change, pull out well in advance, and pass the car ahead. All in keeping with my usual predisposition—conservative, logical, and risk-averse.
These are not traits I witnessed in some of the drivers around me. If I might be classified as introvert/guardian/rational, many of those others would more likely be labelled as extravert/random/hysteric.
Some would overtake me, coming out of nowhere to sit right on my rear bumper within a matter of seconds, and then remain there. Only when I began to overtake a large truck would they attempt to pass. But at the same blinding speed with which they had overtaken me? Oh, no. Rather, at a glacial pace that would inevitably leave me boxed in, their car on the left, the truck in front, my knuckles gleaming white on the steering wheel. Oblivious drivers.
Other drivers, going faster than I, would pass me, immediately pull in front of my car, and slow down. When I soon pulled out to re-pass them, their speed would quickly increase—only to slow again when I pulled back in behind them. At times, I felt that I was playing hop-scotch in my car—out, in, up, back, left, right. Erratic drivers.
On occasion, I would find myself in a string of three or four cars, all gradually passing a slower-moving transport truck. Inevitably, a speeding car would shoot up the right-hand lane and, without so much as a turn signal, dart in front of the car about to pass the truck. Near-collisions were barely avoided as a string of brake lights flashed on. Impetuous drivers.
There were numerous instances when I’d see cars in front of me, weaving from lane to lane, or even within a lane, for no apparent reason. When I’d pass them, quickly so as to avoid a side-swipe, the cause would be immediately evident. They were talking on their cellphones. Distracted drivers.
All these inconsiderate, insensible, and narcissistic types do fit into one large category, however: sociopaths. No one matters to them but themselves. Scofflaws, many of them, who drive the interstates as they please, heeding not even the most basic safety and common-sense rules of behaviour, caring not the slightest about those with whom they share the roads.
A plague on all their autos!