Drivers see all manner of bad manners

(Gabriel Bouys/ AFP/ Getty Images)
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Betty Jo McDonald of Camarillo finally found perfect justice meted out to a rude driver on the 101 Freeway not long ago.

“I was driving in the fast lane, not driving slow by any means, when a man behind me began tailgating, honking, gesturing and flashing his lights,” she recalled.

Hemmed in on all sides, she couldn’t get out of the speeder’s way for a while.

“I finally drove 80 to change lanes and get away from this maniac,” she said. “To my delight, the Highway Patrol chased him down. It made my day -- maybe my week!”

Wouldn’t we all like to have that experience at least once? In my last column, I listed 10 uncivil and dangerous behaviors that I routinely see on the highway. Not to be outdone, drivers from around Southern California poured in their own experiences about the rotten driving they experience. The biggest single new complaint I received involved drivers who fail to use their turn signals.

“You hit almost all of my personal gripes about drivers,” wrote Mike Barclay of Glendale. “However, I think you should have included drivers who don’t use their turn indicators.

“I suspect that turns and lane changes are involved in a significant percentage of accidents. Using turn indicators -- they are installed on cars for a reason! -- allows a driver to communicate his or her intent to other drivers. It’s not a matter of being courteous to nearby drivers. It is as much as anything in the best interest of the turning driver. Not signaling is simply stupid.”

It is also illegal, though seldom enforced because the enforcers seem to be part of the problem, suspects Zan Green of Tarzana.

“From my totally unofficial survey in the San Fernando Valley, I estimate that around a third of all drivers fail to use their turn signals and that includes LAPD vehicles,” wrote Green. “I have called the West Valley LAPD and talked to the watch commander to complain about cop cars on routine patrol failing to signal a turn. One response was something like ‘Were you recently cited for this?’ I said, ‘No, buster, I wasn’t,’ only I left out the ‘buster.’ ”

Steve Eberhard of Monterey Hills liked my list, but felt I should make room for one more item for his “all-time-No. 1 driver rudeness behavior: Throwing your cigarette out the window!”

He added, “What makes smokers think they can throw their trash out of their cars onto the street? I’ve seen this practiced by all races and classes. Geez . . . what if everyone eating fast-food did this?”

Steve, I think they already do that. If you have ever walked along the side of any freeway, the amount of fast food trash is mind-boggling. There should be a special litter tax on the fast-food industry to clean up this mess.

Meanwhile, tailgaters are Chuck Martin’s bane.

“I read your article with interest because my job just moved to San Bernardino from Los Angeles and I take the I-10 freeway to get to work, and oh boy! what a drive,” he wrote.

“However, there is one you didn’t mention: tailgating. When I started the drive to San Bernardino, I started in lane No. 4 and was quickly chased out. I then moved to lane No. 3, also chased out by a faster driver. The speed limit is 65 mph, but I was going 75 mph! . . . And every time that I was passed, the drivers of the other cars would give me the finger!”

A pet peeve of Al Bonowitz of Westminster isn’t so much a matter of etiquette, but wasteful behavior that I also have written about. “The jack rabbit start seems to waste a lot of $3 per gallon gas,” he wrote. “In Orange County, it’s a daily occurrence for me to ‘lose’ the takeoff from a signal, only to meet up with the ‘winner’ at the next light.”

Speaking of speeding, L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Knox wrote about some of the problems he sees.

“I got a man in a Porsche Boxster, six months ago, driving 105 mph in a 45 zone on Palos Verdes Drive South, at night,” Knox said. “Four weeks ago I got a man in a Porsche going 86 mph, in a 40 zone, in the switchbacks of Palos Verdes Drive East.

“Both men were purposely driving as fast as humanly possible for a thrill. Both went to jail for reckless driving and had their cars impounded for 30 days.”

Finally, Ralph Rees of Seal Beach sent me his solution to drivers who take up more than one space in parking lots: an unofficial violation that he slips on the windshield.

“This is not a ticket, but if it were within my power, you would receive two. . . . I sign off wishing you an early transmission failure on the expressway at about 4:30 p.m. Also, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your pits. With my compliments.”