On snowy mornings like this one, those of us who commute in small cars (my latest vehicle is a twenty-year-old Honda Accord) can't help noticing that the rudest, most dangerous drivers tend to be found behind the wheel of SUVs or trucks — and the bigger their rides, the likelier their habits are to be horrible.
Granted, this isn't a universal truth: Some SUV and truck drivers recognize, as does Spider-Man, that with great power comes great responsibility. But here are our top ten peeves about the ones who don't.
Number 10: Where'd the Rest of the World Go?
It's possible to pass a smaller car without your back wheels spewing every bit of loose snow and slush in your lane onto the windshield of the poor guy in the lane to your right — but that's not a priority for all too many SUV macho men (and, less frequently, women). They're more interested in showing the hoi polloi what their massive machines can do, even if small-car drivers can see them only briefly before the world beyond the windshield temporarily disappears.
Number 9: Cutting It Too Close
Another example of roadway braggadocio involves the way obnoxious SUV and truck drivers pass smaller cars — often veering in front leaving as little space between their rear ends and your front as possible, in order to send the message that your modest speed has annoyed them. Never mind that the slightest distance miscalculation will send both vehicles into the nearest snowbank...
Number 8: Tight Squeeze
A related issue to Number 9 involves drivers who try to move into the space in front of you even though the gap is only about four inches longer than their land yacht. They figure they can do it because of their superior maneuverability — but they seldom factor in what will happen if the car in front of them decides to momentarily slow or you have to hit the brakes to prevent your bumper from smacking theirs in a confrontation that will make everyone a loser.
Number 7: The Braking Point
In tight-squeeze scenarios, SUV and truck drivers are prone to correcting the situation by mashing the brake pedal into the floorboards, If the person piloting the small car behind hasn't preemptively slowed down, the result can be chain-reaction collisions that may not seem to be the braking driver's fault, since he was the one who was rear-ended. But it is; it really is.
Number 6: Whiplash
Staying in your lane during fresh snowfall can be a challenge because early on, there's often no distinction between one and the other. But impatient SUV and truck drivers tend to exacerbate the issue by swerving from one side to the other in an effort to see if they can save themselves an extra ten seconds or so by zooming ahead and annoying the hell out of someone a car length or two ahead of them. Great idea.
Number 5: The Need for Speed
If you see someone driving much too fast for conditions, odds are good he's in an SUV or a truck. And while most of us wouldn't wish an accident on anyone, the karmic image of an out-of-control vehicle sitting on its top around the next bend is tough to keep out of your head at times like those.
Number 4: Up-Close and Too Personal
When the most irritating kind of SUV or truck driver has no room to pass a smaller car, does he ease off the gas and dial down the aggression? Nope: He tailgates the living hell out of you, even though doing so won't get either of you where you're going one nanosecond faster. And at night or in dark conditions, this can lead to being....
Number 3: Blinded By the White
It's bad enough to have someone's headlights shining into your rear-view mirror. It's worse if you're in a small car and he's in an SUV or a truck, since those vehicles are elevated just enough to insure there's nothing to block the shine — not even your eyelids, no matter how tightly you may be tempted to shut them.
Number 2: Getting Horny
And then there are the morons who think leaning on their horns will suddenly cause everyone in front of them to instantly accelerate to the marked speed limit. And those who don't are apt to receive....
Number 1: The Fickle Finger of Fate
Do SUV and truck drivers flip off people in small cars more than do people with other types of automobiles? We have no statistics to prove this theory. In our personal experience, though, they aren't shy about letting the birds fly. But while it may be tempting to retaliate, keep your fingers to yourself. That way, you may actually get to work in one piece — despite all the big-vehicle jerks who you encountered along the way.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.