As promised, here's the Doc's annual roundup of the issues and annoyances that peeved you, dear readers, the most last year. We usually limit the list to the top 10 complaints, but because so many readers had such a lot of venting to do, this year's list is a tad longer. If you recognize some of your own bad habits listed here, make a resolution to drive more conscientiously in 2010.
1. Creeping into the intersection and blocking the crosswalk instead of stopping behind the stop bar irks reader Rick Noyes. I might add that many readers are equally annoyed by cars parked in driveways, effectively blocking sidewalks and forcing pedestrian traffic out into the street. I hear about this one a lot from readers who use motorized scooters.
2. Mean-spirited drivers who seem to intentionally speed up to prevent others from changing lanes, especially when the other motorists have given plenty of indication of their intent via their directional signals. This also seems to happen in the cases of roads that have a lane that ends, requiring motorists to merge. Is it really going to affect your quality of life to ease off the gas pedal and allow someone to slip into the lane in front of you? Really?
3. People who drive vehicles with pets on their laps, dogs riding with their heads hanging out the driver's side window, etc. James Molloy of Pinellas Park noted, "They won't be able to control their car in an emergency, plus it makes for a major blind spot and driving distraction."
4. "Drivers who stop at red lights in the right lane when there's a middle lane they could be in and then continue straight after the light changes. They block other drivers who want to turn right on red," wrote Paul Cooper.
5. Pedestrians who ignore pedestrian signals and cross against the red pedestrian light.
6. Bicycle riders who ignore bike lanes and blow through stop signs and stop lights.
7. Motorists who drive with their disabled parking placards flapping from their rearview mirrors.
"It says right on the permit 'Remove Before Driving Vehicle.' Because of the large size of these permits, they do block the ability to have a clear view when driving. I really don't understand why removing it when the vehicle is in motion is not enforced!!" wrote Diane Rebor.
8. "The straddling turtle" motorist who drives so slowly it's amazing their engines don't cut out from boredom, coupled with an inability to choose a lane and get in it. The effect is an obstruction to two lanes and lots of honking.
9. Horn-happy drivers who are so incredibly impatient that they lay on their horn the second the light turns green.
10. "The wanderer" is lots of fun. The Doc seems to have a special talent for getting stuck next to or behind happy wanderers who amble along, drifting in and out of their lane seemingly unaware that there are other vehicles on the road. Wanderers are especially diabolical because they are so difficult to pass. The second we start to, they speed up or slow down, and of course drift.
11. Motorists who seem to be unaware that their vehicles are equipped with directional signals. Slowing down to turn? No problem! Just jam on the brakes and make that sudden turn, no signal necessary. Changing lanes? No worries — just swerve abruptly into the adjacent lane, no need to alert any of the motorists around you.
12. Motorists who seem equally unaware their vehicles are equipped with headlights, but driving in the rain, fog or at dusk is no problem. They're driving super-secret stealth vehicles, so the rest of us don't need to worry about being able to see them, I guess.
13. Driving slowly in the fast lane. The Doc will let reader Randy Glass of St. Pete Beach wrap up this year's list with his take:
"Drivers poking along in the fast lane, whether it's I-275 or Pasadena Boulevard, is a pet peeve. There is a reason for the slower-traffic-keep-right laws; traffic needs to follow a flow to work. If you are impeding that flow then you are creating a hazardous condition. … If you're going 45 in the fast lane and are being passed on the right, you need to get over to a lane where it's safer to travel at 45. Let the police worry about those that are speeding."
E-mail questions/concerns to Dr. Delay at [email protected]