Category Archives: bad driving

Driving In The Parking Lane

Driving in the parking lane

Driving in the parking lane

It’s such a problem that Google even caught it on Street View! It doesn’t matter how much signage or how thick the lines are, someone will think the parking lane is valid to drive in. It’s acceptable to use the parking lane to overtake a car that’s stopped to make a left turn (if it’s clear), but it’s not cool to be driving there. What if someone is riding their bike or pulling out from a side street with an obstructed view? Yeah, that’s real smart. Don’t drive in the parking lane.

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360 NB to MoPac NB

360 to MoPac On-ramp

360 to MoPac On-ramp

When heading north on 360 and connecting to MoPac northbound, you head downhill and hit the bottom near the MoPac overpass. Then you have to drive uphill to get onto MoPac. This hill isn’t a challenge. If I can get up to highway speed in a 22-year-old sedan with a 114 HP 4-cylinder, then your V8 pickups and POS Corollas are more than capable of getting there (maybe if you have one of those 70 HP Smart cars, then you have an excuse). I mean, seriously, you need to be AT highway speed at the end of the on-ramp! It does give me a good excuse to blow out the carbon though. It is quite satisfying to floor it up the hill in third gear while flying past them while still way under the speed limit once we’re all on MoPac (because these idiots are going 40 MPH once they get on the highway). These slowpokes have no business driving.


Like-minded drivers

Look how nice this drive is!

Look how nice this drive is!

I went home for the holidays and driving around I felt like I was around courteous drivers. When I was growing up I thought everyone around me were terrible drivers cutting people off or speeding. It wasn’t until I moved to Austin that I realized I was terribly wrong and haven’t seen bad driving up to that point. Austin traffic is a mix of drivers from metropolitan cities that have to be somewhere fast, laid-back hypermiling hippies, and new residents who have never driven before. This complete chaos results in people who can’t merge properly, can’t maintain the speed limit, don’t care about other drivers, etc. Whenever I go out I put on my battle helmet to prepare for the onslaught of slow drivers. It doesn’t seem right when I’m doing the speed limit and I’m passing cars like they were standing still! It was a breath of fresh air when I realized how much nicer people were on the roads back home. I would be going 5 over the speed limit and still get passed. People would move over if you were coming up the on-ramp to merge. People would move over to the right lane when you came up behind them in the left lane. People would accelerate from the stop light quickly because they knew the green light was a finite resource. It was just so pleasant to drive again! I seriously want good public transportation in Austin only to take people who don’t want to drive off the roads.


Come at me bro

Servers you right!

Serves you right!

The other day I’m driving to work and I’m driving on a residential street that is pretty wide and has a double yellow line down the middle. As I approach an intersection I see a pickup truck (an early to mid ’90s Dodge Ram 2500) decide to make a U-turn in the middle of the street. Since the truck was pretty long, he had to make a K-turn. He was totally blocking the other lane and was about to reverse into my lane. I had zero fks to give that morning and decided to stay my course. I won. I figured if I hit him, I would say that he was making an illegal U-turn and sue the pants off for injuries. I mean, come on!

There was a church nearby that he could have driven into to make the turn around without blocking traffic. He could have also waited patiently for traffic to die down before attempting the illegal U-turn. But no, he decided he needed to make a U-turn NOW! Like I said, I just had zero fks to give and a $1500 beater with airbags. I have nothing to lose. Come at me bro.


You must be new at driving

Genius!

Genius!

The other night I was driving home when I was behind a Toyota Corolla. It was about 10:00 PM and this person didn’t have any taillights on. This means that the headlights aren’t on and they’re probably driving with the daytime running lights only. The driver stops at the red light at the MoPac frontage road. I assume the driver wants to go straight as the turn signal wasn’t on and the car wasn’t moving. After a few seconds I see the right-hand turn signal come on, but the driver still isn’t moving. Right-on-red is allowed at this intersection and there was no other traffic. The driver scoots up a little, but still doesn’t make the turn. I see on-coming traffic coming and a Jeep with it’s left-hand turn signal on. He has the right-of-way at this point, but what does the Corolla driver do? Drives out leisurely into the path of the Jeep that’s already turning. The Jeep driver hits the brakes and has to follow the pokey Corolla up the MoPac on-ramp. I follow suit to see this show. Nothing really happens other than another driver getting behind the Corolla and flashes his lights to indicate to the Corolla driver that the lights aren’t on. It must have been the Corolla driver’s first day driving ever with no clue what is happening. That has to explain it, right?


Rear-wheel-drive and rain

Slippery when wet

Slippery when wet

It rained the other night as I left work. I wasn’t expecting it to rain, but I figured it would be fun to play with the Volvo. I didn’t think the tires were that bad, but it seemed like it would break loose every time I got on the gas. It’s amazing how that little 4-cylinder can overpower the traction so easily. I did a few benign fishtailing around some corners as I went home, but nothing too crazy until I got onto the MoPac frontage road.

It’s very oddly designed intersection as it’s a T-intersection that goes under MoPac, but as it approaches the southbound frontage road, it curves slightly to the right so making that left turn is roughly a 100 degree change in direction. I usually just cut the corner to keep the racing line so I don’t lose too much speed. Yeah, too much Forza Motorsports or Gran Turismo does that to the brain. Unfortunately, unlike a video game, driving your car recklessly has much higher consequences.

As I approach the turn like I’ve done a hundred times before, I start drifting as I hit the apex of the turn. I think I might have lifted my foot off the throttle and it induced lift-off oversteer causing the rear end to come loose. In a video game, I’d let go of the gas and drift around. This is no video game. Having only owned front-wheel-drive cars since I got my license I’ve learned that punching the gas usually straightens out the car if the rear end comes loose. Bad mistake!

I instinctively punch the gas pedal and boy did that make things worse! As soon as I touched the pedal, the whole car just spun like a top! I only remember a blur of the car spinning 360 degrees around like it was on a turntable and coming to a stop facing the wrong way of the one-way frontage road. I was now staring at the grille of the Escalade that was previously behind me. Suffice to say I think everyone in this situation felt a bit awkward.

It took me a couple seconds (which felt more like minutes) to realize WTF just happened because it happened so damn fast and unexpectedly. I was also partially in awe that the little Volvo managed to do a stunt like that. I’m surprised that traffic in the other left-turn lane just kept going after seeing a car spin 540 degrees in two lanes of traffic! I’m probably sure that the person driving the Escalade was glad they didn’t get wiped out by a beater Volvo that looks like the many uninsured beaters roaming the city (don’t worry, I’m insured). I definitely drove a little more carefully the rest of the way home!

It’s amazing the technological advances in safety that have made cars safer because my other car has traction control and electronic stability control which prevents the car from spinning (it’s also front-wheel-drive so it’s less likely to spin out like this in a turn). On the other hand, because the newer technology shields the driver from danger, he won’t know what the true dangers are out there. I immediately knew the roads were slick when driving the Volvo because it spun the tires fairly easily so I knew I could get into trouble. With my other car I would drive the wet roads as aggressively as I normally do on dry roads because of the safety features. It’s funny how technology makes us safer, but act more foolish because of the hidden dangers.


Why the Prius is so slow

Excessive acceleration detected!

Excessive acceleration detected!

My coworker received a Toyota Prius for a rental car while his car was in the shop. We both agreed that the Prius is pretty boring, but it was entertaining because we both knew that it was a mind-numbingly boring little car and we decided to see how dismal it was. The gas engine makes 98 horsepower alone and 135 horsepower with the help of the electric motor.

We started out in electric mode and then romped on the gas to see what it would do. Once we hit 30 MPH, the computer displayed the message “EV Mode Deactivated, Excessive Acceleration.” The message means the electric motor is disabled and the gas engine is working full-time. So yeah, it’s a 3000 pound car being accelerated by a 98 HP/105 ft-lb engine. For reference, my worn ’92 Volvo weighs 3200 pounds and has a 4-cylinder engine that makes 114 HP/136 ft-lbs (when new) and the Volvo feels faster. Obviously, the Prius is not a race car, but when the only thing it has going for it is 51 MPG, it’s kind of a sad little car. Yes, comfort, carrying capacity, driving dynamics, and material quality all suck on this little car.

I’m also certain that given the whole unintended acceleration debacle, the demographic who buy the Prius are going to panic when the “Excessive Acceleration” message is displayed causing them to drive slower. The only excitement that it has going for it is the feeling of whether or not you’re going to be pancaked by a semi while merging onto the freeway. It’s a great for the city where you don’t have to go very fast, but otherwise it’s a dreadful little car.