Poll: What's the Worst Driving Behavior?

WorstDrivingHabitsPoll

About a month ago, Cars.com's editorial team riled up readers by sharing some of the behaviors exhibited by other drivers that make us want to blow a gasket. It was a therapeutic opportunity to blow off some of the steam that can build up when we're behind the wheel, and hopefully help us keep a little cooler on the road. We also invited you, the Cars.com audience, to vent your own frustrations in the comments section — and vent you did.

Related: Bad-Driving Habits That Drive Us Mad

Among those of you who heeded our call for quibbles, far and away the most venom was spat in the general direction of those who, whether playing speed-limit cop or just plain oblivious, insist on driving too slowly in the passing lane. Other popular grouses among readers were directed at drivers who can't seem to maintain a consistent speed on interstates, who speed up when someone tries to pass and who are too distracted to notice that the traffic light has turned green.

Contradictory complaints also abounded. Some of you fumed over those who don't seem to know how to properly make a right on red, while others took exception to being impatiently honked at for choosing not to make a right on red. Some of you were annoyed by motorists who leave too much room between cars in stop-and-go traffic, while others insisted that drivers don't leave enough. And no matter what scientific studies and observations say, no one, no way, no how is gonna convince some of you that waiting until the merge point instead of getting over early is the right move in reduced-lane traffic.

So what we've done is cull all of your scornful responses and picked out the 10 most commonly expressed grievances to determine once and for all what the worst driving habit is. So take the poll below, and maybe, knowing we're in such good company of like-minded motorists, we'll all be a little calmer next time we see it happen out on the highway.

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Cars.com illustration by Paul Dolan

By Matt Schmitz | August 25, 2014 | Comments (55)

Comments 

Sam Baker


Olfactory excavation at stop lights

Jim Monagle

Perhaps most annoying to me is honking at somebody who is already having difficulty driving. The last thing they need is another distraction.

Joel

People on their phone while driving. Swerving like they've been on a several hour bender at the local watering hole. These people are a danger to everyone and care nothing for their fellow motorist.

Sue

Tailgating!!! Dangerous and stupid, and entirely within the tailgater's control. No excuse for it.

Steve N Wilson

I was talking with a traffic court judge at a conference. He and I were in agreement; we both wanted a bumper sticker which read "Neighborhood Pace Car". Before you blow a gasket, and damn us for taking this attitude, this was just in jest, and if you're speeding in town, you're not going to get there any faster. So, chill out and enjoy the ride.

John

When you try to leave proper distance between you and the car in front and people merge in since there's room.

Frank S

I call it the "NASCAR mentality". People that weave through traffic, only to gain seconds over their previous position. They will loose it at the first red light they come to. Hard accellerations from lights, then speeding down the street, only to be caught at the next light by me (I love that part.) Passing me, then squeezing into my safety zone, and immediatly exiting the freeway when there is little room in front of me, but acres behind me. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Alex Liberman

Cars making a left turn that stop at the white line before the intersection when they have a green light. They wait until the next light cycle to make the left, or until no cars are oncoming.

Jonathan

My #1 pet peeve is people who don't know the rules of the road: particularly at 4-way stops. If you get there first, you are supposed to go first. If we get there at the same time, the person on the right goes first. That's how it works.

I can't tell you how many times I've been waiting for some idiot who got to the stop before me only to see them waving me on. Then they go right as I'm going, and we both stop again and decide who is going to go first. While I appreciate the attempt at being polite, just follow the rules of the road and traffic will move much smoother.

Daniel M

I've been very horny lately. I honk at people alot.

I can't stand people driving in the rain with their hazards flashing....IT'S JUST WATER not an emergency.

Slow drivers, last minute mergers and assholes in a Prius.

bryan

"Waiting until the merge point instead of getting over early" Ummmmm that's called zippering and what you're supposed to do. Its the idiots that try to merge over early that cause the traffic to slow. I saw the study right here on car talk that found merging early caused traffic to slow 40% more than if people waited and merged at the choke point.

honestashol1

HANG UP AND DRIVE!!! Please.

whopper

People who don't know how to use traffic circles--either yielding while in the circle or plunging into it expecting others to stop.

Also, some of the behaviors on this list are actually beneficial, such as the late merge or leaving "too much" following distance.

Dplus12

People that don't speed up to highway speed on onramps are the worst! There should be special licensing for drivers AND cars to be able to use the Interstate system.

ZonkerBL

My biggest pet peeve is people who speed up when you pass them. What I've noticed is that people are not doing it on purpose, it's just a reflex. I find if I speed up to like 80 and get in front of them they slow down again.

Another reason we need driverless cars, I guess.

fuzzy

My favorite isn't even on the list. People in Pittsburgh at least seem to be incapable of understanding the concept of a green turn arrow when it's below a red light. That means it's your turn, genius. Stop blocking the entire turn lane by not going.

Also why is waiting until the merge point on here? That's what you're supposed to do!

dave

How did tailgating not make this pole? Must be near the top of the list of dangerous driving behaviors.

Tess

Stopping and waiting for a gap when the intersection is clearly labeled that there's a new lane JUST FOR YOU!

law abiding citizen

My number one pet peeve are speeders. People who think driving fast means they are a better driver. No you're not. You are simply more reckless. Be a good citizen, follow the law.

excellent driver

For me, the worst thing is when someone pulls out in front of you, and then slams on their brakes to turn. Also buggies driven by the Amish. They bring traffic to a near standstill, their horses poop all over the road, and they have a top speed of 7.4..

Stevie Y

People who lolligag up the on ramp at 45, then freak out when they merge into 70 mph flow. Also people who not only stay in the left lane, but hustle to block you in, then back off.

LHS2NV

Useing The window as an ash tray! Than littering, must cars have ash trays to preevent this. If your car is not equipped, don't smoke and drive.

Dave

The thing that bothers me is the driver who will be travelling in the far right lane and realizes that their turn is on the left and decides that they'll now just change lanes regardless of the traffic flow.

Hyhybt

My biggest complaint isn't against other drivers, but against a recent layout trend. At a stop sign, you're supposed to stop behind the white line until you see that it's safe to proceed. But they leave a huge gap between the roadway and the crosswalk, make the crosswalk itself much wider than it has any possible need to be, then leave more space before the stop line. Which means that, in many intersections, it is not possible to see whether it's safe to proceed or not!

Lately, a disturbing trend in left turns. trying to shave the turn like following a race track best line. Only really seen here in Hood river Or, the local norm is to pull all the way over into the left hand lane, and get as clost to the curb with tires as possible. Nobody seems willing to wait to make a turn until they can pull directly into the correct lane.

Skip Tracer

The idiots who drive too slow until there's a mile of traffic behind them. Pull over!!

Right of Way has gone straight out the window in the last 10 or so yrs. Drivers have gotten much ruder & even more belligerent in that time.

Alex Lieberman: that left turn cut off you're talking about is called a Pittsburgh Left & is my #1 driving pet peeve. I always honk at people like that & have gotten no response or the finger!

My other big pet peeve are drivers who think they're entitled to more than one parking space. Often I think that they're too damn lazy to turn into a space the proper way & leave enough room on either side. And I also think it's somehow become fashionable to do so.

And I got rear-ended last Fall at low speed by a moron who was texting while driving -- I'd been stopped at a line of traffic at a light for about half a min before she hit me. I knew she was because her phone was on the passenger seat & was totally smashed up -- looked like it'd hit the windshield & bounced back.

Rose Justian

People who make obscene gestures at me when I make a mistake as if I was intentially being a jerk.

Please don't ride in my blind spot at 60 mph. You're better than that.

ee

To the people saying that merging at the last second is the "right" way to do it: You are the problem.

Evan

Don't enter an intersection unless there is enough room for you on the other side. If you get caught in an intersection when the light turns red, you compound the problem by blocking cross traffic. You're the idiot.

Jim Brown

I would like to add a couple of actions that drive me crazy: 1) failing to dim headlights when approaching oncoming traffic on a limited access highway. 2) failing to turn on headlights when using windshield wipers (it's the law in PA) 3) allowing three car lengths between you and the car you're following when turning from a red light.

Kylemac

I would vote, but while "waiting until the merge point instead of merging early" is on there, "inability to merge PROPERLY" is not.

Engineers have actually taken to PUTTING UP SIGNS saying "MERGE AT MERGE POINT". This is what you are SUPPOSED to do. If you're a moron who refuses to follow directions, you deserve to be passed.

If a cashier lane A signals they are closing at 9:00, and at 8:30 almost all the customers see this sign and go to swamp cashier lane B, why should they get made at the intelligent people who bring their items to lane A, since it's STILL OPEN.

BillyB

People who follow too closely, i.e., tailgaters. I don't appreciate their sniffing up my exhaust pipe and prefer other modes of intimacy.

cathi frattini

Not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes.

cathi frattini

Not looking over your shoulder when changing lanes.

cathi frattini

People who don't pull their cars completely inside a left turn lane. They leave the back half of their car in the moving traffic lane while the front half is in the left turn lane.

Ed Norton

I get frustrated (pet peeve) when folk are in a all fire hurry to pull in front of me and then drive slower than the speed limit. It's then I need to pray first for my patience and second for their improved driving skills.

Jim

Tailgating! Should have been the first item on the list.

Beth Smith

Not shoveling all the snow off your car and driving with big sheets of ice flying off your roof.

J

I don't know WHY people don't complain about this one more, as it is life-threatening, not just annoying:
People passing too close to oncoming traffic!
I can't tell you how an times, on these 2-lane highways here, there will be Mr. (and it's ALWAYS a 'Mr.') Extended-Cab Dually trying to pass a semi & coming within mere FEET of hitting me in my Focus.

Paul

How about using the shoulder as a passing lane in traffic moving at normal speed? Using right turn lanes as passing lanes or as a thru-lane across intersections? Or not making use of the passing zone areas on 2 lane roads to go around a vehicle/tractor traveling 20 mph UNDER the speed limit, thus leaving everyone behind you stuck in the 2 mile long backup?

Leon Stark

Your survey forgot one that really irks me as a safety issue.

TAILGATING, following so close that a small tap in the brakes leads to a rear-ending.

Do not drive with the person in front of you in mind, drive with the person in front of the person in front!

Harlowe Thrombey

Here are the hallmarks of a good driver:

(Bad drivers drive slow in the left lanes and do a lot of other stupid things)

Good drivers never pause longer than a moment at a stop sign. A good driver immediately and observantly, goes when it is their turn with no countable pausing. Anything else causes stupid confusion.

Good drivers, when approaching a 4-way stop, as a matter of habit looks at all the cars ahead of time as he or she approaches, and then figures out ahead of time who should go first, and in what order.

Good drivers enter freeway onramps at a high speed, which makes merging safer and more maneuverable (instead of acting all scared, slow, hesitant, stupid and timid, which causes brakechecking and danger).

Good drivers go over speed bumps without having to stop. Speed bumps are not “stop bumps” and good drivers know this. Trucks, VWs, and those with broken shocks are the only exceptions. You're car isn't made of Chinaware. Just go!

Good drivers never shark around parking lots in circles (or obnoxiously sitting there waiting) hoping to wait and look for the “front” space. Good drivers just park, get out, and go, without delaying those behind them… even if that means parking in the back of the lot.

Good drivers never drive slower in the left lanes of the highways and freeways. Good drivers always go faster if they are on the left, unless in a traffic jam where it can’t be helped. Good drivers realize there’s no excuse to stubbornly go slower in the left lane.

Good drivers speed up prior to going up to hills (because good drivers understand the laws of physics).

Good drivers are not afraid of trucks and not afraid of passing them.

Good drivers never put their brakes on when no obstacles or stops are ahead. Good drivers realize the car will slow down just by letting the gas up a bit. Brakes are way overused by people.

A good drivers’ first instinctual snap reaction in an emergency should not be “to brake immediately”... but to instantly recognize what’s going on and brake if needed, or speed up and out of the way, if needed.

Good drivers never hog the entire lane to make a right turn. Good drivers use the land closest to the shoulder to turn, staying out of the way of vehicles who are not turning.

Good drivers have a fast reaction time when a light turns green.

Good drivers never get in the carpool lane only to drive at a speed lower than that of the general freeway. Good drivers in the carpool lane always, and without exception unless they’re caught behind a bad driver, should be going faster than EVERY lane on the freeway. Otherwise, the good driver realizes not to be in the carpool lane.

Good drivers do not tailgate people who are innocent and are themselves stuck behind a slow dummy.

Good drivers do not come to almost-stops when turning right into parking lots or gas stations. They just go right in, without delaying the cars behind them.

Good drivers do not drop off their family members curbside at WalMart (unless there's a handicap involved). Good drivers don't get in the way of flow. They park and make their family members walk like civilized people to the front entrance.

Good drivers do not use drive-thrus unless they and their passengers already know what they want to buy. Good drivers also never use drive-thrus if the order is huge. Unless the main seating area is closed of course.

Good drivers realize that traffic patterns mimic jazz songs, and the best drivers flow with the jazz of the traffic. The really bad drivers are the ones who are out-of-touch with traffic flow and cause delays (or bunchups, which are dangerous) through their indecision or bad choices.

Bob Wilson

I don't have a problem with people who merge as the lanes combine into one. I have a problem with the people who wait until the two lanes start to merge, then speed up to pass when there really isn't room.

Jwo

Something I used to see in Pittsburgh (but not in California or Texas) is people using their parking lights, rather than their headlights, at dusk. I guess they think parking lights are "headlights lite," to be used when they can see just fine. The thing is, headlights aren't just for illumination for oneself; they help other cars see you and gage your speed and distance, which is harder to do with dim yellow parking lights.

Michael

All of the above. How is that not an option? I thought I knew you guys. Game over. I'm taking the ball and going home.

Mambisa

Not using turn signals and tailgating are the two worst offenses, but cutting in on the space one leaves behind the car in front is unsafe and annoying. There's a reason I've left a gap behind the car in front of me, moron, and it's not so you can slide in at the last moment.

Angela

How is tailgating/ following too closely NOT on there?! People who follow closely are likely to rear end someone and make it so that merging traffic gets backed up.

SR

It is not just people who sleep at the light, it is also people who are way too slow to make a start. So by their slowness 3 cars pass through the light, instead lets say 5-6 (just making up example).
Or not pulling forward on the left turn and losing turn (when left turn has to yield to oncoming traffic).
Camping in passing lane.
All of this in my opinion, are not just about rage/no rage, but of people having sense of spatial entitlement, they do not have sense of others, and do not think in a way to make being in traffic easier for all, but only for themselves.
In traffic (and other activities) I am trying to be as aware as possible, not only too reduce possibility of accident, but also what can I do to make traffic FLOW, instead of being bloody nightmare...
And how come TEXTING is not on the menu?

Hyhybt

"Or not pulling forward on the left turn and losing turn..."---You DO NOT enter an intersection until you can exit the other side.

Mitch

Leaving too much space between cars at stop and go is absolutely ridiculous. The family with 10 kids, the guy with a "super-nice" mitsubishi...please. Two feet of space is enough. And I pine, it is enough.

For those of you complaining about speeders. Yes, on the highway, they are typically better drivers with better cars, that realise that there is not a cop every 10 feet!

But my biggest, biggeset, most massive pet peeve ever is...People who don't turn left on two ONE WAYS!!!! It's a common rule that all too many of Americans forget!!! If you're on a ONE WAY and you're turning onto a ONE WAY, if it's red....TURN LEFT IF THERE AREN'T ANY CARS...YOU MESS!

I don't like it when I am in the left lane on a long highway, perhaps exceeding the posted speed limit, and someone comes up behind me tailgating like I am slowing them down. I politely get over for them to pass. They go on past me a bit, but after I get back in the left lane, they slow down. If you are too afraid to go as fast as I was, don't act you are Mr. Speedy! And stay off my tail!!

bc

1. Drivers who insist on merging way before they have to, rather than driving to the point where you have to merge and politely taking turns. It leaves a perfectly good lane completely unused and backs up intersections needlessly. Did you hear that last part? it BACKS UP INTERSECTIONS NEEDLESSLY. That means that people going different directions who are completely unconnected to your fearful need to get in a line now have to sit around longer.

2. Drivers who insist you join them in the above, and pull out in front of you to stop you if you refuse.

3. Drivers who drive slow in the fast lane because they're turning left in 5 miles. They'd like to let the rest of us pass, but that's just not a lot of time.

4. Drivers who will not turn right until they have a green.

5. Drivers who come to a completely unnecessary stop at a protected right turn. You can honk. It will do no good.

6. Angry, snarling, 300 pound, 20-something redneck women in late model Pontiac Sunfires, a cigarette hand hanging out the driver's window of a car that has at least 2 things broken, missing or severely dented. If your windows are down you might hear Bachman Turner Overdrive's 'Takin' Care of Business' giving this woman her daily affirmation.​

Mark

Driving with a mattress strapped to the roof. This is confidence inspiring when I'm following one of these knuckleheads on my motorbike.

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