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Wheels and Heels: Road Rudeness Rules

Why do people become rude, self-centered egotists when they get behind the wheel?

Fed up with rude, selfish drivers?

They seem to think their needs take priority over everyone else’s on the roads, and behave accordingly.

Driving through downtown Decatur at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, a woman was making a tricky U-turn on Ponce right in front of Parker’s, blocking all traffic in both directions. And when she finally got her car headed eastbound, she paralleled parked it, further delaying traffic. If she made any sort of sheepish wave to any of the dozens of drivers held up by her self-centered parking ritual, I didn’t see it.

Parking in downtown Decatur can be difficult. But couldn’t this woman have driven around the block?

This road narcissism hampers the flow of traffic in a city with heavy traffic, lots of pedestrians and bikers, and narrow streets. We’re in the South. We’re SUPPOSED to have good manners. Why do we become egotists when we slide behind the wheel?

Last week, I saw the genesis of gridlock by another driver who decided to pull out of the Chick-Fil-A parking lot on McDonough to turn left BEFORE the road was clear. I was blocked, and couldn’t move. She couldn’t move either, because the road wasn’t clear. Then a school bus came along, wanting to turn into the bus parking lot.

But it couldn’t because I was blocking the entrance, because I couldn’t move, because Left-Turn Lucy was blocking me. And the bus was blocking her left turn. All because this driver didn’t have enough sense to wait until the road was clear before trying to turn left.

And Lucy’s rude, impatient and probably unlawful driving didn’t help her exit that parking lot any sooner than if she’d waited.

Sometimes, I wish I had more than just a horn to express my displeasure at the outlandish behavior of other drivers. My husband is quite grateful I don’t, pointing out that I don’t know if the other driver is armed, and fearing that they’ll beat him to a pulp, or worse.

Why do people try to turn left out of the Publix Shopping Center onto Clairemont Boulevard during busy times of day? That’s such a difficult maneuver, it ought to be prohibited. Why do people waiting for a red light, or going through a red light, insist on pulling up and blocking intersections? Even if they can’t move, they could at LEAST let other cars move, couldn’t they?

Many of Decatur’s older streets are so narrow, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for two cars going in opposite directions to pass each other safely. I live on one, Adair Street, which is also a . The polite and SAFE thing to do is to slow down and take turns. Most of the time, this works well, but many people don’t seem to get it.

It’s not just motorists who are egocentric. Lazy, rude and inconsiderate pedestrians will often jaywalk across Decatur’s busiest downtown streets even though a legal crosswalk is just a block away.

Why is it that when someone is crossing against the light, they seem to amble across the intersection at a leisurely pace? If you’re crossing illegally, have the decency to walk quickly, tossing a sheepish and apologetic look at the motorist you’re delaying.

Self-centered cyclists blow through stop signs and traffic lights and ride to the right of cars in the same lane. Not only are they selfish, they're risking a nasty collision. That car might be turning right and not see you. Bikers who ride to block cars just feed the road rage that endangers all biker’s safety.

Atlanta’s traffic breeds the king of all rude traffic gestures. When a long line of cars is queued up waiting for an exit, it’s almost guaranteed that other cars will zip past the line of waiting cars and then cut in at the head of the line.

Would the driver of that car walk past a line of people waiting for a supermarket checkout and cut to the front? No way! The customers and management wouldn’t stand for it. But the anonymity of the road seems to strip away many drivers’ civility.

If the state of Georgia needs to raise money for more highways, schools, or new fishing museums, why not set up a sting at those exits and write hefty tickets to those cut-in bozos? We’d raise a fortune!

I just hope traffic karma catches up to these road hogs.

For this summer, why don’t we all try to drive like civilized, polite people?

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