You’ve been behind them far too many times. Drivers who are terrified of the road, yet endanger the lives of their fellow motorists by venturing out behind the wheel.

My own mother was a self-admitted cowardly driver. Unfortunately for her, she was living in New York City when she grew old enough to get her driver’s license. Once she got certified to drive, she hit the pavement in the City, of all places. After a very short tenure gripping the steering wheel with enough force to rip it from the column, she abandoned all hope of ever driving an automobile – not just in Manhattan, but anywhere else. She knew her nerves just couldn’t handle it, and acted appropriately. Of course, that didn’t stop her from regularly telling my father how to drive, or employing the phantom passenger-side brake pedal with great frequency (more on that subject another time). The point is, she recognized and accepted her inadequacies on the road, and removed herself from the giant bumper car ride of life.

Unfortunately, very few fellow “drivers” bother to study themselves in the driving competency mirror, and in so doing not only raise the cumulative blood pressure of every other reasonably-qualified motorist on the highways and byways, but they outright endanger the lives of the population, motorist and pedestrian alike.

These people are so inept that:

  • They cannot turn into traffic, or even worse cross 2-way traffic, from a stop sign, unless there is no sign of oncoming vehicles for at least a mile. In so doing, they excessively back up traffic behind them, causing delays and increased dosages of Lisinopril and Benicar.
  • They are petrified of making a left turn across an oncoming lane of traffic, again, only able to do so if the nearest approaching vehicle is at least a mile in the distance. This is aggravating both in “open” traffic lanes – where there is no stop sign or signal with cross traffic, but merely a left turn to an intersecting street – as well as at an actual traffic-light-intersection. Their paralysis inevitably prevents them from making their left turn until the light turns yellow – or red – for their lane (and the oncoming opposite lane), when they can then make a turn without an unreasonable fear of being T-boned. Obviously, this blocks everyone behind them from making it through the traffic signal cycle. And some of these trafficophobes are so bad that they won’t even make the left turn once the light turns yellow – they are usually frozen with their nose out into intersecting traffic, and will never make the turn unless all other drivers at the intersection slam on their brakes and allow these simians to complete their delayed turn.
  • They can’t merge to save their lives. Douchebags. This usually applies to entering the highway via an entrance ramp. They actually pull up to the point where the entrance ramp meets the lanes of traffic and stop – something I expressly recall my driving instructor admonishing against. “Wooten, NEVER stop on the entrance ramp.” I am reminded of the commercial for Toyota’s introduction of a V6 to one of their models, where a carload of blue hairs couldn’t bring themselves to merge onto the highway. It took one of the ballsier geriatric passengers to shout out “Punch it, Ethel!” before the driver – presumably the aforementioned Ethel – would make her move (naturally in her new, higher-powered V6 Toyota). Conversely, these same drivers can’t merge back INTO traffic when coming off the interstate. They come down off the exit ramp (when they aren’t faced with a stop sign) only to slam on the brakes, rather than safely merging into the lane beside them. About a decade or so ago they started putting signs up at such merging spots which said KEEP MOVING – MERGE LATER,” pointing out that there was plenty of additional lane space to keep rolling forward, WITHOUT STOPPING, so that they would not generate a backlog of other vehicles also trying to exit the highway. Unfortunately, far too often you will see the results of these insipid morons’ inability to merge in the form of traffic actually backed up on the interstate.

What this boils down to is very simple – if you’re not confident in your driving, don’t. And don’t give me any of that “But you’re taking away my freedom” crap. No, I’m taking away the multi-ton weapon with which you’ve chosen to terrify the rest of us (we’ll discuss the inverse-proportional-size-of-little-old-lady-to-size-of-land-yacht theorem at a later date).

A corollary is the don’t-keep-a-gun-in-the-house-if-you’re-afraid-to-or-don’t-know-how-to-use-it. If you don’t know what you’re doing, or are afraid of using it, odds are you will not only kill yourself, but other innocent bystanders as well.

So, if you can’t turn across oncoming traffic, or merge into lanes with parallel vehicles (if said vehicles are within proximity of the tri-state area), then leave your vehicle in the garage (better yet, sell it), and take advantage of mass transit, or take a cab. No one wants you on the road. You are a menace.