I really, really don't like driving in the DC area at times. You probably realized this from my last jab at the anarchy that occurs on our roadways. Today I'll discuss road rage in the DC area and why it's almost always hugely misplaced, with a few anecdotes thrown in to prove my point. I mean, this did happen all of 10 minutes from my house. We're bonkers here.
Before some of the holier than thou driving gods come and smite me with their burner accounts, there certainly is a way to pass people without being aggressive or dangerous. In a sea of double yellows, it's easy to think that the DC area doesn't have any passing zones. Largely you're right, and this usually leads to the all to common situation of 234 cars sitting behind a 90s Corolla doing 29 in a 45 zone. If you're from here, you know exactly what I'm talking about. In these sorts of situations, all you can do is grind your teeth and hope they turn off somewhere up the road. They don't. Ever. You'd think this would naturally drop into a story of folks raging over said Corolla... Wrong. Let me explain.
In the all too uncommon areas where passing is allowed, this same Corolla has decided to do a whopping 39 in a 50 zone. As it weaves like a drunken sailor, the 2 donuts it's on violently rattle. It's a death trap I'd rather avoid. I line up, throw my car down a gear and pass. I am European. We do this over there without a thought as it's so common. Corolla driver does not like this and promptly speeds up to tailgate with horn blaring. It's always a damn Corolla... Or a PT Cruiser... Of course, I begin to analyze what I could have done wrong. Maybe I cut them too close when merging back in the lane? If I can improve my driving, I certainly will attempt to, but if there's nothing wrong with what I did, how is their rage justified? Help me Oppo.
Nobody knows how to use a god damn stop sign here. This picks up on the lack of courtesy I talked about in my last piece. Everyone is in a damn hurry to get to their lame job at Government Contractor 67. You probably shouldn't have sprung for that venti caramochalatesoy and wasted 10 minutes. Too damn good for Mr. Coffee and Folgers, aren't you? I'm genuinely not this bitter. I promise.
Heh. Coffee. Bitter.
Anyway... Back to stop signs. Pull up at stop sign first? Don't expect it to be your turn, ever. You'll be promptly cut off by a soccer mom in a Suburban who will give you the single finger salute and a good toot of the horn for even thinking about moving. My mind is full of confusion as to how these people justify their rage in these sorts of situations. I'm just going to place it under the whole, people are bonkers and in a hurry here. That leads perfectly to this...
I try to stay out of people's way as much as possible. I consider it to be courteous to avoid impeding other drivers whenever possible. There is a way to get to your destination quickly, but also safely. However, I've had people pull some genuinely stupid stunts to get ahead...
Sitting at a light where the straight and right turn lane are the same? Expect someone to blow past in the left turn lane, cut the light, and continue on their merry way to turn right. Following rules is for idiots. The icing on the cake is when this happens over multiple lanes. I was once preparing to turn right off of New York Ave and had a car continuing straight next to me. This made the Prius in the left lane think it would be a brilliant idea to cut us all off suddenly and proceed into the street to the right. They didn't bother changing lanes... They just turned. What?
The other day I was tootling along on 395, minding the abysmally low speed limit of 45 in order to avoid a ticket from the speed camera. I'm in the right lane and preparing to exit anyway. I look and begin to exit when a wild Maryland driver appears. I immediately swerve back into my lane as this Infiniti with tints of questionable legality and ramz of questionable taste blows past in the exit lane at 80+. He cuts back into the main lanes and proceeds to cut across all lanes of traffic. I assume he was quite mad at everyone for being such an impediment.
Calm the hell down.
Blocking the box can be a huge problem in DC and the surrounding areas. I swear I've been stuck on Wilson Blvd and Lynn for a good hour from people blocking the box. Arlington has begun cracking down on these folks, while DC has always been more mindful of how much of an issue this can become. I don't like blocking the box. As I said, I know what it's like being on the receiving end of it. It's frustrating, stupid, and wasteful. Ultimately, we'll all get where we need to be faster if we maintain the intersection clear, no? Unfortunately, not throwing yourself into the intersection that's already blocked up is a bad idea. This is where the DC driver attitude causes issues. Everyone will honk until you block the box. You're an idiot and you need to move. Now. Cab drivers are by far the worst. They will go around you and proceed to block the box, then wonder why everyone is honking at them for blocking of a busy intersection.
It's the most frustrating yet avoidable problem I come across on a near daily basis.
I really don't understand why people get so angry when they're doing something illegal or plain dangerous, especially at other drivers who are abiding the law. I suppose it's just the mentality DC drivers have of me first. This barely scratched the surface of driving in the area. Feel free to add much more in the comments.
All photo credits to their respective owners