Tuesday, May 24, 2011

City Drivers on Mountain Roads

One other little tidbit about my trip... Driving the 400 miles was relatively uneventful until I got into the mountains with all these city drivers who were headed north for their Memorial Day vacations.  The speed limit was 55 MPH through a section of winding mountain roads with an occasional warning to slow on certain curves.  I kept getting stuck behind drivers who drove 30 MPH the whole way with 10 or more drivers stuck behind them anxiously awaiting their chance to pass in a passing lane.

The problem is that all the passing lanes are on straight of ways, and the city people who are afraid to drive those mountain curves at 55 MPH would see a straight road ahead of them and speed up to 80 MPH in the passing lane so that no one could pass.  Then they'd hit the end of the passing lane and a curve, and everyone would have to slam on their brakes and merge, only to be stuck behind the same driver going 30 MPH around each curve for 10 or 15 miles until the next passing lane.

This happened to me three times and I was so fed up with being boxed in with people going slow in front of me and people tailgating because they wanted to go faster behind me, that I considered just pulling off to the side of the road to shake them.  I need my space even when driving.  Instead, I decided to take the city driver by surprise and fly past him before he even had the chance to spot the next straight section of road.  Unfortunately, I had to get up to 80 MPH in the process, because as soon as the guy saw me cross over into the oncoming lane before the start of the passing lane, he gunned it.

We came swinging around a slight curve at the end of the passing lane and who should we run into, but a cop with his radar gun pointed at us!  I was furious.  I would not have been going that fast if the driver in front of me hadn't been such a jerk.  I just wanted to get away from him and drive the speed limit.  I could easily drive those mountain roads, curves and all, at 55 MPH, or at least considerably faster than 30 MPH.  This whole game of speed up and slam on your brakes was downright dangerous.  There are some drivers who are like horses in that they don't want anyone in front of them period, and they'll run you off the road if they have to maintain that first place position.

Well, I spotted the cop before Mr. Jerk Off did, and I had to slam on my brakes.  Mr. J.O. flew past me, got in the lead position again, then slammed on his brakes until we were going 30 MPH in the 55 MPH zone again.  The cop did not pull over either of us.  Go figure.  I guess Mr. J.O. was mad at me for making him speed in order to maintain his first-place position, so he started slamming on his brakes and going even slower around each curve.  I guess he was hoping I'd rear-end him so that he could claim whiplash, or better yet someone would rear-end me and I would actually get whiplash.

So, I didn't wait for a passing lane.  I waited for a safe location to pass and without warning snaked around him.  He, of course, stepped on the gas to race along side me as soon as he saw oncoming traffic coming over the hill.  But, I had the jump on him and was able to get over safely in front of him.  Suddenly, he was able to drive much faster on those curves, because he had this need to keep up with me.

I did eventually shake him, but I wish there were some clear cut law that would protect drivers from this kind of harassment on the road.  A police officer would have to follow the drivers a long ways and observe their behavior in order to determine if one driver was harassing another, so it's not easy for officers to spot these types of problems and hand out tickets, yet it's a very common problem that I experience when driving these mountain roads.

In my case, if I am going slower than the traffic behind me, I always slow down in the right-hand lane upon entering a designated passing area to make sure that everyone who wants to get past me can, and if there are no passing lanes, I pull out at vistas.  I can't stand having people pushing me from behind to go faster or weaving back and forth in my rear view mirror.  

There was a local case a while back in which one driver was tailgating another, and the driver in front got annoyed, so he purposefully slammed on his brakes.  The driver in back hit him.  I guess the driver in front didn't expect that.  He just wanted to teach the tailgater a lesson by giving him a scare without actually getting into an accident.  The driver in front knew he would get into trouble for maliciously causing the wreck, so he took off in an attempt to avoid taking responsibility.

The driver in back chased him around town.  The driver in back cornered the driver in front so that he had nowhere to go, and then exited his vehicle and proceeded to beat the windshield of the car in front with a baseball bat.  The driver in front stepped out of his car to stop the man from destroying his car, and the man turned the baseball bat on him.  They were both at fault and both got into trouble for their roles in the incident, but it always amazes me how something as simple as having everyone respect the law and each other's space would prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

Sometimes I think a few of us have never evolved past the Neanderthal stage.


fernvalley01 said...

Yikes !! no wonder there is such roasd rage ,I find it very irritating when people are travleling slow then speed up when I try to pass , or tailgate me as well, but I never thought of grabing a baseball bat! Glad you made it home safely

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Crazy stuff for sure!

When we were driving down to Alamogordo a couple weekends ago we got stuck behind a large delivery truck.....with noone else around us on miles and miles of empty highway.
I tried to pass on several occasions, but because the road was curvy and hilly and the truck was so wide, I couldn't see past him. And every time I tried to pass him, he would speed up or another car would be in the oncoming lane.

It was so annoying. I had to follow him for more than 30 miles like that, and he never offered to pull over and let me past.
We finally lost him when we pulled over for a restroom and snack break. But about a half hour later we came upon him again. This time he was holding up a long string of drivers and trucks, more than 10 vehicles long. Oh my gosh! By that time I was about ready to pull him over and smack him over his head. bah!

We were on vast open highways and there was no reason for him to want to claim his position. There was plenty of road for everyone and then some.

He was an exception, though. We rarely ever have issues or problems with most drivers we come upon while driving in New Mexico. In fact, I doubt that annoying road hog driver was even from our state. grrrr!


Fantastyk Voyager said...

I've been there with those crazy mountain drivers who speed up on straight-a-ways and go ridiculously slow on curves. Lucky you didn't get a ticket too!

Cheryl Ann said...

I've been there, too, with crazy drivers. Either they drive too slow up or down the mountain, or go speeding by and are so careless that they go careening off the mountain! I just pull over and let the idiots pass! Sometimes I'll get behind a hay truck, but they usually DO pull over.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I have been there myself a few too many times. I agree. Go around! Don't let me get in your way or stop you from getting that ticket.

Cops can actually bust you for "impeding the flow of traffic" if there are 5 or more cars behind you and you are doing under the posted limit. They are just never around when you need them though.

achieve1dream said...

Scary!!!! I think I wrote about my tailgater incident. So annoying. Your story of the road rage reminds me of something that happened a while back where do guys got into a road rage battle and ended up causing a wreck that killed and woman and her two children! Really? People are that stupid?? It makes me so sad and angry at the same time. I'm glad everything turned out okay on your trip and I hope the power hungry JO got pulled over eventually for his juvenile behavior on the road.