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A nasty reaction to patient driving

Published September 28, 2012
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This morning I had the wonderful pleasure of enduring rush hour traffic to try to make a meeting on time on the other side of the GTA. I left early to give myself plenty of time should the traffic be worse than expected.

As I drove down Highway 404, the sea of red brakes from the first of many traffic jams loomed well into the distance. I gradually slowed and made my way up to where the traffic was stopping just north of Elgin Mills Rd. I could see the brake lights flashing off and on for a long way down the road so this was not a short stop, but the start of the stop and go yo-yo.

I drive in the right lane and this lane usually moves better and steadier than the other lanes. That’s from decades of driving observations.

When I encounter the stop and go yo-yo effect, I simply travel at a speed that allows me to keep moving while the other vehicles in front of me play the yo-yo game. This saves fuel, wear and tear on brakes and clutch, and eases a lot of the stress. You may have noticed some professional truckers doing the same thing as it is very difficult and wasteful to keep starting those big rigs from a dead stop.

Things were going just fine until Mr. Junior Exec in the black BMW behind me thought I wasn’t moving as fast as he wanted me to be. For the next several minutes I could see him crowding my rear bumper and getting quite antsy as I wasn’t playing the yo-yo game. He wanted me to race up to the car in front of me, brake hard, sit there a moment then accelerate off again until the next screeching stop a few scant hundred metres up the road. The yo-yo effect.

I guess being in that high stakes, high stress driving rat race mode made him feel he was getting to his destination faster?

So, there I was driving along at a steady pace at which, when timed properly, meant I was just catching up the stopped vehicles in front of me just as they were setting off on another yo-yo run. It meant that I was not stopping nor accelerating. It also meant the vehicles behind me, including Mr. Black BMW were travelling in this smoother manner.

After a little while his patience wore thin and the BMW driver elected to pass me on the right shoulder which is both illegal (Section 150 of the HTA) and quite stupid. He also made sure he cut in front of me close enough to force me to brake and avoid, plus he slammed on his brakes. I figured he would be doing his best “Parent” driving and would attempt to do another dumb move by teaching me how to drive.

As tempting as it was to simply drive into the rear of his nice BMW, I was ready for this manoeuver and simply avoided him. He then raced off to join the back of the yo-yo line. For the next several kilometres he was directly in front of me and really no father ahead. I stayed well back and let him have his little victory of being ahead of me. Whoop dee doo. Besides, a motorist that drives that bad, I much prefer to have in front of me. Less chance of him rear ending me.

Mr. Junior Exec continued to play the yo-yo game in front of me until his exit. He may have saved himself five seconds by getting one car ahead of me but he wasted more fuel and plenty of brake pad material. His stress levels would have been higher and his overall gain in time was negligible.

Did he learn a lesson? Probably not.

If he saw the “big” picture and noticed in his mirror that I was covering the same distance he was in the exact same amount of time but at one continuous speed instead of the inefficient manner that he and most other motorists tend to drive, maybe he could have saved himself a lot of aggravation, fuel money and wear and tear on his Bimmer.

This is a lesson most motorists could benefit from. Look farther up the road, think ahead, plan, drive smoother and your drive will be safer, a lot less stressful, more efficient and it won’t cost you any time.

I arrived at my meeting on time, in a good mood and not stressed out.

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