I still liked to drive fast, but I was much more careful. A $35 speeding ticket in New York in 1988 didn't dissuade me from driving fast. A $150 speeding ticket in Massachusetts did. Over the years, I mellowed quite a bit. Now, I don't speed at all, I drive defensively, and I do my best to avoid accidents.
Sometimes, it is tough to drive safely. For example, if I am driving on the freeway and try to remain about two seconds behind the car in front of me, somebody will take that as an invitation to squeeze in the space in front of me. While I was going to school in Pullman, it was unusual for me to drive without having some kid in an SUV getting right on my tail and try to intimidate me into speeding.
I just finished reading an article that made me think about my driving habits and other driver's habits. It turns out that New York City has the most aggressive drivers in the United States. Can't say that I am surprised by that. What did surprise me was the breakdown of how people respond to drivers that piss them off. Normally, if I was told that 1% of a group of people do something stupid or strange, I would not be surprised.
In this case, 1% of the drivers polled admitted to slamming their car into the offending driver's car.
In a typical drive around Bremerton, I am sure that I see several hundred other cars on the road. Does that mean that there are several people out there that think it is appropriate to slam their car into mine because they don't like my driving? Kind of a sobering thought for me. In Washington D.C, the percentage was 4%!!! Pretty scary. You can read the article here. Here is an excerpt:
I generally do a pretty good job maintaining my cool and rarely get upset by how other people drive. I am okay with pulling over and letting people who feel that their time is more important than mine pass me by. Over the last two weeks, however, aggressive drivers have managed to elicit a few curses from me.
Seven percent were so angry they called the police and one percent admitted they had slammed into the car in front of them.
"In Washington, D.C., four percent of drivers admitted to slamming into another driver," said Bush. "They stand out in that one particular category."
The most recent one was last week. I was driving on a rural highway going 55 MPH when a pickup truck rapidly approached me from behind and was tailgating so close that I probably could have counted the dude's nose hairs in my rear-view mirror. After about 30 seconds of this, I came upon a slow vehicle turnout and let the guy pass me. He honked his horn and flipped me off when he went by. Why? Because I let him pass me, I guess. Don't really get it. Obviously, this guy was a jack-ass. That guy made me cuss.
About three weeks ago, on the same highway as the one that I just talked about, three motorcycles were following me. As we were leaving a small town on that highway, one of the motorcycles passed me and started speeding away from me. He passed me just prior to a long stretch of road where no passing is allowed and the small shoulders don't allow you to pull over. The motorcycle in front of me then started slowing down to just under 55 MPH until I started catching up to him, then he would RAPIDLY slow down forcing me to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting his bike and killing him. He then sped away from me again and repeated this idiotic maneuver. It dawned on me that he was trying to slow me down so that his two buddies following me could pass me. They didn't pass me. I couldn't safely pull over to let his buddies pass me. I slowed down to allow them to pass, and the guy in front of me pulled the same crap again at lower speeds.
This insane behavior continued for several minutes until we came out of the no-passing zone. Then the two guys behind me passed me. About five minutes after that, I came to another town and the three guys were parked outside a store talking. I pulled over in front of them, got out of my car, and slammed my door. One of the motorcyclists put his hands in front of him and said "Hey man, we're sorry about that." I guess I must have looked pretty pissed off. I turned around, got back in my car and drove away. I didn't see these guys again.
Good thing they weren't driving in Washington D.C.