Springtime driving in the High Country
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Traffic was bad and, as often is the case during early April in a mountain town, patience seemed to be wearing thin.
The white van was trying to make a left-hand turn onto a busy road. I was behind him hoping to turn right with the flow of traffic.
For me there was no rush. One of the benefits of my recently abbreviated work schedule is I’m often in less of a hurry. (If that less-work-equals-more-patience equation was universal, my mate would be the most serene woman on earth).
Finally, there was a small opening. The van went for it but before it could make a left turn it had to clear the oncoming approaching traffic.
In truth it was a gutsy move. Though the van had ample room from the traffic approaching on the right, traffic was heavy in the other direction.
Perhaps the driver of the van felt bad for me and other vehicles behind him who he was blocking.
Whatever the case, the white van made its move.
I then noticed the SUV approaching from the left.
The SUV had two choices. It could slow down, just by tapping its brakes, to give the white van some extra space or it could maintain its speed and demonstrate to the driver of the white van that his decision to cross the road when he did was ill advised.
Now to be clear the van didn’t make a reckless move; the SUV had time and space to slow down and allow the van to cross. Though I will say a cautious driver would have waited.
If the SUV maintained its current rate of speed, it would have missed the van by thirty feet. If it slowed down just a little it could have doubled that.
Of course you can guess what happened; the SUV maintained its momentum, leaned on his horn, and I’m guessing, caused the van’s driver to rethink his decision.
Did I mention that the van had several children inside?
Now to be clear, this was not a near miss. As I said before, there was at least thirty or forty feet between the two vehicles when they were at their closest.
We have all seen occurrences like I just described regularly on our roads. Usually I don’t give them a second thought. What I saw was one driver making a bone-head move and another driver punishing him for doing so.
Now certainly this does not rise to the level of road-rage or reckless driving. Rather it is what I like to call dicky-driving; one driver being a “dick” to the other.
The life of the guy in the SUV would not be diminished in the least if he had touched his brakes and given the driver of the van a little extra room. In fact, I would wager that by making his point and not slowing down he brought detrimental emotions into his life that actually negatively affected his day.
The man in the SUV was reacting to a circumstance he had no control over. Though his initial emotion might be the same, he had two choices for his course of action.
This is my guess as to what was going through his mind, maybe even subliminally, as well as how he might have responded.
“Look at that bonehead in the white van pulling out ” what an idiot. I’ll just keep my speed and teach him a lesson.”
Or ” “Look at that bonehead in the white van pulling out ” what an idiot. I better slow down to give him some room.”
Either way, the driver of the SUV would have arrived at his eventual destination at the exact same moment, the only difference was how much anger he allowed in his life and vehicle.
I’m not sure why being in a vehicle lends license to ‘dicky’ behavior. I can’t imagine someone wheeling a cart in a grocery store coming purposely close to another customer because that shopper cut across his path. Humans display some of their most discourteous behavior when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. My theory is this is due to lack of eye contact. When you look someone in the eye, you know they are human and are more inclined to treat them as such. When you are dealing with someone in a vehicle, you don’t see a person you see a white van. It is a lot easier to be a jerk to a vehicle than it is to a human.
Now is the time to admit I too am guilty of some bad behavior; my wife describes it as “Jeffrey is being a punk.” I will say I am usually quite courteous when I am behind the wheel of a vehicle. Except to those people who drive Bentleys; I hate those guys …
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.
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