Rules of the Road

imagesI was rolling down the road, belting out the chorus to Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” when a white Volkswagen zig-zagged in front of me, cutting me off. I watched the car tailgate and nearly hit someone who was driving the posted speed limit, then nearly wreck another car it tried to pass on the right shoulder of the road.

Following behind the white car, I watched the driver roll through a second stop sign.

No pause. No hesitation. Nothing.

Really? Optional?

I couldn’t believe it.

Eventually, we came to an intersection where the light was red. I slowed to stop, but the white VW sailed right through.

Something has got to be wrong with that guy, I thought.

I never thought I’d catch up to that zoom-doom car as it weaved its way down a busy stretch of road, lined with shops and gas stations and restaurants. With so many destinations, it’s easy to lose someone. But as luck would have it, a train was coming. The crossing gates had gone down, forcing a long line of cars to idle, waiting.

The white VW was right in front of me. The driver honked twice.

I couldn’t help myself.

I got out of my car. Tapping on the dark glass with my fingertips, I waited to see the face that went with the driver.

I expected to see a boy, a teenager hurrying to get back to school — or a man. Clearly, there was some serious testosterone in that car.

But when the window whirred down, a woman about my age stared back at me. She was wearing enormous designer sunglasses with pink lenses.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Of course.” The woman tilted her head to the side. “Why?”

I shouted over the train’s rumble.

“You rolled through a few stop signs and a light. Did you know you did that?”

I expected the woman to offer some explanation for her recklessness. Or, at least, to qualify her behavior. I could understand if she had to get to the school to pick up a sick child. I could understand if she was hurrying to get to her mother’s house. Maybe her mother had called to say she had fallen and she couldn’t get up. I needed to hear her say she was driving herself to Urgent Care because she was bleeding and in pain. I needed to know she was rushing home because she realized she had left her oven on. Hell, I would have been okay if she had admitted to rushing to the grocery store because she was out of sugar.

Honestly, I just needed to know she was okay.

That’s a lie.

I wanted her to apologize and acknowledge she’d been driving recklessly.

But the woman in the pink sunglasses looked at me like I was a cockroach she wanted to flatten with her fist.

“Stops signs and stop lights are stupid,” she said.

I didn’t know what to say.

Because what do you say to that?

As she rolled up her window, I hurried back to my car and slammed my door. The rumbling noise of the train was muted, but the noise in my head was not.

I copied down the woman’s license plate on a piece of scrap paper.

I considered what would happen if everyone drove the way that woman drove. What if everyone thought stop lights and stop signs were stupid? Her disregard for the most basic rules of the road scared me. There have been times where I have sat at a stop light when no one else was around and thought: Duh, this is stupid. No one is even on the road. I should just go. But I don’t. Because the first rule I ever learned was something like: We stop at red, and we go and green.

I thought about the stop signs near the school by my house. I wondered if she ran through those signs, too. I imagined her white car hitting a child — mine or someone else’s.

I dialed 911.

Yes, I decided. It was an emergency.

I reported what I had witnessed, the conversation that had taken place. I reported my location and the license plate of the white car.

“You shouldn’t have approached the car,” the woman from dispatch scolded. “The driver could have been dangerous.”

I shivered a little. I hadn’t considered that.

The dispatch agent told me that unless an officer actually observed the car driving erratically, the driver couldn’t be issued a citation; however, she added, since I was able to provide a description of the car was and the direction in which she was traveling, she could get an officer in the vicinity to try to catch up to her.

By the time we finished our conversation, the train had passed and the crossing gate’s red and white arms that had held back traffic were going up. Traffic had started to move forward.

I have no idea if anyone ever caught up to the woman in the white VW, but I hope someone did.

Obviously, something was off that day.

Maybe she’d forgotten to take a necessary medication. Or maybe she’d been drinking. Or maybe she was just a really crappy driver. Whatever was going on, that woman needed to get off the road.

That afternoon as I drove home, everything felt fragile. I know nothing is solid, but I suppose in matters like safety, I prefer the illusion to reality. I need to know people believe in stop lights and stop signs. I need to believe there are more stable, kind people on the earth than dangerous, psychopaths out to do harm. I need to believe we are civilized.

Have you ever come across someone who has broken a basic safety rule and endangered others’ lives? What did you do? When do you decide to get involved?

tweet me @rasjacobson

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114 responses to “Rules of the Road

  1. Once you start driving in Florida more often, you will get used to it. That kind of driving is the “normal” down here. People driving through stop signs and red lights, stopping at green lights, passing on the on/off ramps, or even on the sidewalks. You are lucky that the woman actually stopped for the train. I have seen drivers try to beat the crossing gates. I have seen school buses drive through red lights, and witnessed a school bus driver reading a magazine (draped across the steering wheel), while driving a bus filled with kids. At least he stopped at the red light.

    The 911 operator was right – you should never approach a vehicle. It could have been a woman who is rushing to pick up a sick child. It could have been a guy who just robbed a bank or committed a murder and was trying to escape. You never know.

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    • Larisa: That is spooky! I have seen bad drivers, but to actually spoken to the woman and had her be so cavalier and dismissive was what creeped me out. I’d imagine MOST people believe they are driving safely. Even if they aren’t. It seems like if someone called me out on bad behavior, I would admit to it. But maybe that’s just me. How do people ever let their children drive?

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  2. Wow, you’re like Harriet the Spy. Good tale of suburban intrigue. But please no more approaching strange cars. I’m sure the police caught up with her.

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    • Hey MarKap. I would like to believe that the po-po caught up with this chick, but I don’t know-know. She was definitely off-kilter. How am I supposed to feel good about putting my kid of the road in a few years when there are drivers out there like this one?

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  3. That kind of thing drives me nuts! She may think those rules are ‘stupid’ but all the people she’s putting in harm’s way through her misguided opinion certainly don’t.

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    • She was so oblivious. That was what scared me the most. It wasn’t like she was texting or blaring her music. She was not distracted or anything. She just was. I still don’t know if it was a sense of entitlement — as in, “I have a right to get where I need to go and I need to get there fast!” or if something was actually off with her. I wish I had seen someone pull her over, but how long can you stalk someone. Sheesh.

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  4. Wow, I’m impressed that you would try to do something about it, both with talking to her and calling 911, but I also agree that approaching the car could have been dangerous. UgghI I hate reckless drivers.

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  5. That was my first thought, I would have never ever ever ever approached the car. People are crazy these days. I learned that after I turned in front of a guy stopped at a light to enter a place on Monroe Ave. apparently he didn’t like that because the light was about to turn. (um then why did you leave a space for someone to turn in front of you to the business entrance?) He then turned in the entrance to 3300 Monroe Ave. chasing after me, pulling front of me and blocking me in. All the time I had my 15 yr old daughter in the front seat. He was screaming and yelling and giving the finger.

    I stayed in car with windows rolled up, he left. I’m sure he would have punched me. Never approach a stranger in a car and don’t ever roll down the window when one approaches you.

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  6. I am amazed AMAZED that you actually approached that car. I probably would have called the police while sitting there. I have done that before in other situations that seemed reckless and dangerous. But yeah, to go up to some unknown crazy person? No, Renee. Keep your adorable ass safely in your vehicle and let the authorities handle the crazy person.

    I understand how you feel about it all being fragile. I feel more and more like we are all just teetering on the brink. I think it comes from all the school shootings and having young and susceptible kids that you know you can’t always protect. Good for you for doing something, though. That’s really all we can hope, is that someone notices and DOES something when they see an abnormality.

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    • I couldn’t just sit there, Misty! Something was wrong. But I didn’t feel better afterwards. It was worse! When I lived in bigger cities, I used to hear about people getting shot after they approached cars. What was I thinking? Duh! Next time, I’ll just phone it in. But for real? What have we come to? When we can’t feel safe in our cars? And we can’t feel safe outside of our cars? And we can’t feel safe in our schools? Le sigh. It isn’t like me to get down on the world. I think I need a vacation somewhere warm!😉

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      • I think I know of just the summer home that is calling your name. 😉

        And I hear you about the vacation . . . I am desperate to get away. Luckily, my birthday is next week and the hubs is whisking me away to the glamorous vacation destination of . . . Atlantic City. Meh, at least I’ll be away somewhere. I need it so badly!! I haven’t travelled since LAST SUMMER. Imma relax like it’s MY JOB.

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  7. I can’t believe you went up to the car. But even though it was dangerous (tsk tsk) Good for you. I’m pretty positive I wouldn’t have approached her. There aren’t enough people willing to do anything about the dangerous situations we encounter every day.
    As for dangerous driving…the stretch of highway from Calgary to Invermere (my escape in the mountains) is insane. People passing on double solids, up twisty mountain roads…
    It’s par for the course, which is even scarier.
    Great post, Renee

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    • I know. I’m an idiot, Elena! Honestly, it didn’t occur to me that there was anything dangerous about approaching the car — until the person from 911 said I shouldn’t have done it. *headdesk* I saw some mad driving around twisty cliffs in Italy like you are describing in Canada. So. Scary. Yikes. Just drive safely. Okay?

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  8. This weekend we were driving up a dark road and there was a kid in the middle of the street in dark clothes on a dark bike riding in the traffic lane. We saw him in time and when he realized we were there he swerved left of center into the oncoming traffic so we could pass. He blew through red lights and no regard for anyone else. I had my wife call the police.

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    • You have to wonder if he wanted to get hurt. Like do you think he wanted someone to hit him? Because what reasonable person wears dark clothes on a dark bike in a traffic lane?

      I’m glad you called the police. Again, something sounds like it was off there. And rather than just ignore it, you actually did something. (Or at least you got your wife to do it!)😉

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  9. I wonder whether the police would do anything if you had video evidence.

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  10. I am SO glad that this person wasn’t insane enough to cause you any harm when you approached. Kudos to you for calling the police – I’ve known people who shrug off bad behavior when they see it, but all I can think is how bad I would feel if I catch up with that car again ahead – smashed into someone else’s car.

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  11. I can’t believe you approached the car. I honk at people who are reckless and have had passengers in my car say, “Don’t do that! They’ll get made and come shoot us.” My response is: “If no one ever calls a driver on the carpet for reckless driving, then we’re all just letting them get away with putting the rest of us in danger!” Still, I’ve never gotten out of the car.

    Living in Houston, I can handle a little bend-the-rules driving around me, but the highway weavers (in and out of lanes with no blinker) are the ones that drive me nuts. I wish the police would go after them more than the speeders because the weavers are more likely to cause an accident.

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    • We must be really short of police officers these days. I remember my mother getting pulled over for speeding. This woman was blatantly breaking dozens of basic safety rules. In fact, when I saw her, I don’t think she was wearing her seat belt. Can you imaging if she crashed into someone or something? She could have been seriously injured. On the other hand, maybe that is what she wanted. Someone suggested that maybe the driver was trying to hurt herself. I hadn’t thought of that either. So many complexities. I’m just glad I didn’t get my head shot off that day.

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  12. I grew up in a world of this. My father, when he was having a bad dad, was the Road-rage King. He was also a driving instructor… I totally get your feelings in the last paragraph, Renee, because this (below) was an average weekend event:

    We’d go out someplace to a mall; Dad would be tired because he was working third shift; someone on the road would do something that didn’t fit Dad’ interpretation of traffic law (yes, Dad was usually right about the traffic laws, he was not right about how he handled them; now tired Dad became Angry Dad…

    He would chase after said driver treating our car (which was often a little compact) like it should have been a police SUV–he would chase the driver even if they were going in a completely different direction than we were, etc.

    When he caught up with the other driver, or his rage had a moment to settle (usually with large quantities of nicotine), he would rant at Mom and I about the A$$h()1e. If the other driver was near, he would yell at them. Once, he punched out someone’s window because they refused to roll it down to listen to him… which was oddly the time he spoke the calmest and politest to the other driver.

    So, yeah… I really so get how you feel, Renee.

    (That said, there ARE some places where the traffic signals are stupid–they were put there for circumstances that have since changed, but the signals and signs have stayed. It doesn’t mean you can ignore them though.)

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    • Oh Eden. *sigh* How exhausting and scary to be in the car with Road-Rage Dad. I agree that there are sometimes stop signs and lights that are stupid. And, to be honest, I am not perfect. SOmetimes I have opted to go through them. But it is with great care and with the understanding that if I got caught, I could be ticketed. This woman’s blatant disregard for the most basic rules of the road upset me.

      I wonder how I will ever let my son out on the roads. We always say: “It isn’t you that I don’t trust; it’s the other people.” Well, I saw one of the other people. The ziggers and the zaggers. The angry people who honk their horn and flip you the bird for no real reason. I hope my kid is ready for it in a few years.

      Thanks for stopping by with your thoughtful response.

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  13. You. Are. Awesome. Good for you and yes, it’s an emergency. I haven’t ever done this exactly, but I will next time, except I won’t approach because I will be scared of assault weapons. Welcome to Yeah Write!!! So great to see you and get to know you. Don’t be afraid if I start to stalk. I am harmless and I obey traffic laws.

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  14. For about a year after Katrina EVERYONE here drove like that. Traffic lights were a free-for-all. It got so bad I went out of my way to avoid certain busy intersections. I’ve called the police a couple of times to report safety issues, but OMG, I would never approach a stranger who’s behaving erratically, I’ve hear way too many stories of psychos waiting for a reason to snap.

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    • Leeeeeesh: I remember being down in NOLA, pre-Katrina. I’d say people were mighty reckless even before there were no traffic lights, so I can’t even imagine what went on when y’all didn’t have electricity. Oy. I had students who were carjacked in NOLA. What was I thinking? *Duh!* But then, you know I tend to have my rule-breaking side, don’t you. I might trespass a little bit, but don’t let me catch you breaking a rule of the road.😉

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  15. I’m glad YOU’RE okay. Last year Peppermeister and I were pulling up to a major intersection and the guy in front of us was bobbing and weaving. It was SCARY. Peppermeister honked and EVENTUALLY the guy rolled down his window. It was only about 5pm, and he looked BOMBED. We asked if he was okay because he was swerving, and he just kind of smiled and kept going – we didn’t know what to do, but we should have done something more.

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    • See? That’s exactly it! Those moments are so surreal. The bombed guy? You kind of look at each other and go on about your merry way. Because what can you do? There is no citizen’s arrest, and you can’t really detain someone. Although, Jules, I must say, it seems like you might be able to delay someone easily with some of your kick-a$$ brownies and some fun mustache glasses. Just saying. Maybe something to keep in the glove compartment for emergencies, maybe?😉

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  16. The driver of that little white car possesses a sense of entitlement that takes my breath away. Good for you for calling the police, and I hope they caught up with her. If there’s a next time, no approaching the vehicle. Agreed?

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    • Hi Pat. I didn’t know if it was a sense of entitlement or if there really was something going on. It was so hard to get a read. But whatever it was, it wasn’t cool. So I called. And yes, *hangs head in shame* I promise next time, I’ll keep my hands and feet inside the vehicle.😉

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  17. that takes courage… I usually say something under my breath or aloud in the car, but would never get out of the car and tap on the window. I have rolled down the window and hollered at a lady who was texting and weaving while driving. she looked at me like i was nuts. I guess I am… I can always tell who is talking on the phone when they are driving, they drive much slower than traffic and cause bottlenecks. As for your lady, maybe she had somewhere to be – like Charles Barkely did a few years back….. just offering an excuse!

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  18. Good for you for calling the police (although I agree that approaching her was probably a bad idea). I know this varies from state to state but in Maryland where I used to live, if a citizen saw reckless driving and was willing to press charges and go to court to testify, the police could cite the driver.

    I learned this when we were having problems with teenagers driving recklessly in our little neighborhood where younger children were walking home from school. We had complained to the teens’ parents to no avail. So when I witnessed a teenager taking a corner so fast that two of his wheels came up off the road, I took down his plate number and called the police (I did not call 911; sometimes they will blow you off somewhat because it’s not an ’emergency’ in their minds).

    The officers came to the house, took down the information and told us we could file charges. We opted for another action they suggested, that they would go to the kid’s house, talk to him and his parents and scare the crap out of him by telling him we were contemplating pressing charges. That worked! We never saw that kid in our neighborhood again (he was a friend of a neighbor’s kid).

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    • Wow! What state do you live in? Clearly, I live in the State of Denial. I think there must be a shortage of police officers up where I live. In our affluent suburb, I have a feeling that people operate under the assumption that everything is cool as a cucumber. I think police worry that if they issue tickets, folks will just wiggle out of them with the assistance of well-paid lawyers. They might not be wrong. But we definitely could use a little surveillance.

      The agent at 911 made it clear that I could not testify against this woman — since I am just an average citizen and it would be my word against hers. I wonder if it would have been different if I had video footage of her driving. (Of course, then I would have been breaking a law: driving while handling a phone. We’re not allowed to do that in NY State either. Hands free, baby.)

      I’m glad you scared off your reckless driver. Good for you!

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  19. Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car MUST practice constant vigilance. That’s the only way to arrive safe. I’m the most aggressive driver I know…and by that I mean both hands on the wheel, seldom have the music playing — unless it’s country road driving — I keep up with the speed of traffic and constantly checking mirrors…who’s in front and who’s in back. I also don’t talk much when I drive. So many friends and family have been in accidents because they were distracted that I no longer take a chance…if I’m tired, I pull over. If it’s raining too hard to see clearly, I pull over.

    When you see someone driving dangerously, you pull over and call the cops. You done good.

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  20. Those situations make me crazy. They make me want to carry a fake badge and ticket book.

    The WEIRDEST one for me was at a 4-way-stop. I pulled up, stopped, looked, started forward. A car coming cross-wise drove right through the stop sign – not roaring along, just driving. I slammed on the brakes and hit the horn. He hit his brakes and avoided t-boning us by inches. He stared at me for a moment blankly, then backed up and drove around me and continued on.

    Okay, you say. A little weird. The weird part? The other car was a cop. No lights, no siren, he wasn’t hurrying… he just wasn’t paying attention and ran the sign.

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  21. Rarely see anything like that, Renee. What I see more often is people who remain parked at lights that have turned green or who will not turn right on red if there is an oncoming driver within half a mile or who sit at four-way stop signs when they should go, making everyone else wonder whether to wait or go out of turn. Admittedly, these are not a dangerous as a driver like you followed, but they are rude and inconsiderate and delay traffic.

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    • Those are more typical of the daily situations I see. Of course, there are the drivers who take too long to go at the green (they are usually texting, so their focus is down). And the folks who don’t turn red? They are annoying, too. But sometimes they don’t know the law — as it is different from state to state. But yes, those kinds of inconsiderate drivers cause other drivers to make potentially dangerous choices to try and get around them.

      Oh David, how did you ever let your kids get into cars? And how do you stand the thought of your grandkids becoming drivers with all these distracted drivers around them?

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  22. Hmm…I’ve heard of people saying that the seat belt law in CA is stupid, but stop signs and red lights? That’s a little much.

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  23. Where do I start? I have witnessed many bad drivers while driving. A school bus full of kids ran a stop sign and totaled my car; no one was hurt! While I drove for Fed Ex I saw several drivers pass in a double yellow line, running stop signs, running red lights, hog the left lane and not get over, the list goes on!

    Police have told me to write down the license number and car make and model if you witness a bad driver. And never walk up to the driver! That driver could have easily have a gun and shoot you.

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    • Hi Nathan: I can’t stand to hear about bad bus drivers! I’m so glad that you were not hurt! Working for Fed Ex, as you did, I’m sure you saw all kinds of traffic infractions. You should have been deputized. Probably.

      And I know what you say about approaching the car. Now, I know. Never again. I get it. Yikes.

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  24. It’s a certain ethos, isn’t it? That the world has faulted that person, that the world owes them?

    I can’t stand erratic drivers. My husband swears at them; I tend to offer the semi-judgmental prayer, “May you kill only yourself.”

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  25. That is really scary and you did the right thing. What the heck? She thinks stop signs and lights are stupid? Tell that to the police officer standing alongside your car, lady. Wow. That’s unbelievable.

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    • I like to imagine that conversation. I hope he got her to pull over. Maybe she could bat her eyelashes and explain herself to him. Or maybe he thought she was loony-toons and slapped some cuffs on her. I think I like that version better. (Is that wrong?)

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  26. I ran through a stop sign while making a right turn last week and nearly caused an accident. I wasn’t paying close enough attention and forgot I had the stop – it’s a T intersection where I’m usually going the other way and don’t have to stop. I could have crawled through the floor. I was so embarrassed! But I’m glad to be alive. My cousin ignored the flashing lights that signaled a train was coming – there were no cross bars – and it cost him his life.

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    • See, that’s the thing, Michele! You felt remorse. This chick? Nothing. And don’t get me started on trains. I was almost hit by a train near the place I attended summer camp. A bunch of us were young and jerking around when we approached the tracks. I swear, it came from out of nowhere. Now, I ALWAYS stop completely, make sure the radio is off and look. And then I wait a little longer. I’m so sorry for your loss.

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  27. You are one brave lady! I love that you got involved and took a stand. I know I wouldn’t have walked up to the car, but I definitely hope I would call the police. I have done that before when I’ve seen people swerving or driving erratically on the expressway. Calling the police feels scary and empowering in that Law & Order sort of way. And yes, the fragility feels impossible. Welcome to Yeah Write! So happy to see you here!

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  28. I am glad you came out of this safe. Trying to be a Superwoman to “nutty “people on the road is dangerous. I did like you calling and taking down the license plate and reporting the happening to the police. Rules must be enforced. You, may have saved somebody else by calling and reporting THIS WRECKLESS DRIVER. Your blog friends who stated” stay in the car” is giving good advice. I know your Mom doesn’t want you to get hurt.

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  29. Ooooh! What a post to start up reading my (long missed) favorite blogs with…Got me all riled up! In fact my husband and I were just talking about what angers us most about rude drivers and for me, it’s anything rude, senseless and dangerous. I get especially angry at those that put emergency responders in danger by ignoring them or thinking they can outrun them.
    I am glad you weren’t hurt. My husband admonishes me if I even give another driver a dirty look, let alone hand gesture, and no, I’m not talking a friendly wave. I have called 9-1-1 on drivers I feel are driving recklessly or drunk. In our area, they put someone on it right away, or at least they tell they do. They usually dispatch the closest patrol car to follow. Additionally, if someone is in a company vehicle, I am right on it and call in to speak with the highest manager or owner.

    OK, back to breathing….

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    • Don’t you go bonkers when people don’t pull over when rescue vehicles are trying to get by? Omigosh! What is wrong with people. I TRY to give people the benefit of the doubt. I really do. But, honestly, lately, all this incivility is seeping out all over the place. What happened to Random Acts of Kindness? How about everyone just slows down a little bit.

      As I said, the woman at dispatch TOLD me they would put a car on it, but I wasn’t convinced. I wish I had seen her get pulled over. I’m glad to know that you have gotten involved in the past. Makes me feel less alone.

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  30. I witnessed a car a few years back where the driver was clearly very drunk, swerving, slowing down, speeding up, trouble staying in the lane. When I thought about calling 911 I looked around and several other drivers around this car were on their phones. I made the assumption that lots of people were or had already made the call so i put my phone down. I still question that decision to this day.

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    • Hi Steve: At this point in my life, I have learned better to err on the side of safety. Case in point: a few years ago everyone on the street lost power. I assumed someone had called the local electric company. Hours passed. i finally called. And guess what? No one had reported it. We were all holed up in our houses thinking someone else had taken care of it. Now, I tend to get on things rather than wait for others to handle them. Especially when it comes to safety.

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  31. Living in New York, I see my fair share of crazy drivers, but this is just a different level. Glad you were safe, and I hope that eventually she did get stopped for driving erratically before she hurt someone, or worse. Welcome to Yeah Write, so glad to see you on the grid!

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  32. We all complain about bad drivers but usually we mean overly cautious drivers, or distracted drivers. I’ve never encountered a driver who had such blatant disregard for other people’s safety. I admire you for not letting it slide.

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  33. Sometimes the words that come out of people’s mouths are so astoundingly ridiculous that they should be arrested for their stupidity alone. This is exactly why this world needs a superhero in charge of doing just that. Or… Maybe I just wanna put my pink cape to good use! :0)

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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  34. I was so scared for you as you tapped on that window. I really thought there was going to be an altercation, but was then even more stunned by the woman’s blasé attitude. WTF? I hope the police found her and got her off the road. So scary to think about what goes on — or doesn’t — in the minds of other drivers.

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    • It never occurred to me that there might have been an altercation. Can you imagine? What a dummy I am? Of course there could have been an altercation! She could have gotten out of her car and socked me in the mouth. She could have stabbed me or shot me.

      And yet.

      I still believe that most people are not like that.

      Even this woman.

      Something was not right with her.

      I hope she got the help she needed. Mostly, she needed to get off the street. maybe she needed a good cry. I don’t know.

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  35. I’ve never approached a driver in person after they’ve done something horrible on the road, but I have totally called in extremely reckless drivers before… plus I’ve been known to say something REALLY LOUD if I know some “idiot” driver is within earshot. But that’s about it. This is Texas. People carry guns.

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    • You are not just whistling, Dixie, Tiffany! I used to live in New Orleans. I know all about people who are packing. I should have been smarter, but i guess I got less careful when I moved to our comfortable suburb here in Rochester, New York. I’ll be down in Grapevine in a few weeks. Do I need to worry about getting shot at BlissDom? At the Gaylord? Do you think bloggers will be packing? Oy.

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  36. With so much road rage, I wouldn’t probably approach a driver, but boy does it piss me off to see them run stop signs. They treat them like yield signs here in Boulder. What is and what people consider a complete stop are two different things.

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    • That reminds me! I have ANOTHER great story about something that happened to me when i lived in New Orleans. Hubby and I almost got arrested after I “rolled through a stop sign.”

      Only I didn’t.

      But I had New York plates.

      So I did.

      Now I know what the inside of a patrol car looks like.

      I don’t ever want to ever go through that again.

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  37. I can’t believe she said that!!! Maybe she was bleeding from the back of her head and her brain fell out!!! oh man!! but go you! you rocked the citizen’s arrest! uh, but don’t approach strange cars anymore.😉

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  38. My neighbors are part-time residents who live next door. My husband and I keep an eye on their home when they’re not in town. One evening, I noticed a black car parked between two homes across the street from my neighbor’s home. I didn’t think too much of it, except I wondered why the car wasn’t parked in front of the home he/she was visiting. The next evening, I noticed the same car in the same spot, the next, and the next, and the next evening were the same. I was very suspicious by this time, but I couldn’t catch the driver of the car walking to the car to talk to him/her to see who this person was or what he/she was doing in the neighborhood. My other neighbors thought it was strange, too, and had never seen the driver either. I finally catch the car pulling away. He/she goes up the street, turns around and comes back down the street toward me. It was dark, the windows on the vehicle were tinted dark, so I couldn’t see who it was inside. I ran up to the vehicle and made it slow down enough for me to tap on the window and ask the driver to it down. The driver sped off instead. I ran inside, called the police and an officer came to my home to get my statement. In the process, I was scolded by the police officer for approaching the car. Like you, I was told I put my life in danger. Like you, it never crossed my mind. Our neighborhood has always been safe, thank goodness. Long story short, the police catch up to the person (I did manage to get the license number as he/she sped away) and the person in the vehicle was a woman. She would park between the two homes because she wasn’t visiting anyone on my block. She was walking up my neighbor’s driveway, going into their back yard to the gate that lead to the golf course fairway behind their house. Then, she was crossing the fairway to meet up with a married man who lived on the next block over with whom she was having a secret affair. Wow. I learned two things from that experience: My neighbors are lucky to have me watching their home and I should have paid more attention to the old saying, “Never take the law into your own hands.”

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    • Holy crow! Not only were you vigilant, but you totally stopped an affair. Was her name Monica Lewinsky by any chance? Was she wearing a beret? Seriously, great story! Thank you for sharing! You have some doozies, Sandra! Will you be my neighbor? You can borrow my binoculars.😉

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  39. OMG, I think she’s emigrated to Canada! I’m sure I saw her yesterday.

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  40. Sorry for my post being so long and for accidentally posting twice, Renée.😕

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  41. I probably sound kind of creepy, like a busy body, but I’m way cooler than that. Really!😉 I’d love to have you as my neighbor, with or without the binoculars … fun times.

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  42. Hi Renee,

    Egregiously bad drivers frighten me for many of the reasons you’ve listed. The speeders on local roads are the worst, because there are so many potential victims in their path. The speed limit in my community is vigorously enforced. I’ve heard many complain about getting ticketed, but I like it. There are plenty of children and no sidewalks for goodness sake!

    I once got into a shouting match with another motorist and immediately regretted doing it, once I considered the bad that could come of it with my family in the car. Please listen to the nice officer and stay in your car.🙂

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  43. That sounds creepy indeed. I can’t say I’ve had any memorable incidents w/ bad drivers, but I do think calling 911 was the right thing to do.

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  44. People’s disregard to rules, and their narcissistic belief that they are better than rules extends to all areas of life. It’s disturbing. That woman sounds
    Like an ass. Oh sorry not even an ass. More Like an asswipe.

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  45. I had the same reaction as the 911 agent, you shouldn’t have gone up to the car! My stomach was so tight when I read that. I was worried about what someone driving like that would do. I do think you were right to call the police. Red lights are there for a reason. It can suck when there is no one around, but if we went through red lights like that, there would always be the times when a car came out of nowhere. There would be more accidents. It just isn’t safe. And, it’s not worth the risk. I wish the driver would have seen the lesson in being stopped at the train tracks with you. She did all that reckless driving and still ended up waiting with you. She probably got to where she was going 3 seconds sooner than if she would have driven carefully. It just isn’t worth it to drive like that, unless it is a rare, real emergency.

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  46. I have called the phone number on the back of business vehicles before. And when I was in college, one of my dad’s drivers almost ran over me on the highway. At the time I had a little Chevette and the guy was driving a full size semi. I called my dad when I got to school that day and the driver was suspended for a month. Lesson: Don’t run over your supervisor’s kid.

    Thank you for the read and comment on my blog.

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  47. Welcome to Yeah Write!

    And I’m glad that you were safe — both that you didn’t get into an accident and that the driver didn’t harm you.

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  48. Renee, I could go on & on with road-rage or wreckless driving stories, but I won’t. Forgive me please. All human life risks aside, you’ve illustrated why auto insurance is so high; drivers like her. Ultimately, those driving habits become wrecks or goodness-forbid, fatalities; all of which lead to increasingly higher (legally enforced) auto insurance rates & increased expenditures in law enforcement & court costs. Not referencing self driving habits of good law-abiding safe drivers, but rather why everyone must have at LEAST liability, and it also trickles into comprehensive coverages as well. Ms. Pink-sunglasses’ ONLY justification for that sort of driving was what you pointed out. Alas, she clearly verbalized how she felt about traffic laws & her community. I wish for the return of those days-gone-by when drivers waved & smiled at you rather than being 10-minutes late to her manicure appointment or whatever her lame excuse would’ve been. At least friendly safe drivers still exist in small rural towns.

    Bottom line: a society made-up of self-absorbed members are obviously unproductive (maybe destructive?) and benefit in little ways toward a greater good. I hope driver’s won’t go down that road (pun intended).🙂

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  49. I bow to the feet of the girl with the courage to actually go to the car. But yes, be careful in the future because you never know. I have thought of doing it so many times but you are far nicer than I would be. My question would have contained some expletives and examples of all the people that could have been killed, hurt or otherwise inconvenienced! I have called 911 on several occasions when witnessing someone driving irregularly- speeding up,slowing down to almost a stop and having a hard time staying on thier side of the road. To me that indicates intoxication and we all know how that can turn out. I also placed a call in once to a school bus garage……no number on the bus…I just 411ed the school district. Can’t remember exactly what they were doing but when it comes to transporting children..there is no room for recklessness! We all break them sometimes and yes when no one else is around….they do seem stupid (my jaw is still on the floor from her response) but the majority of the time they serve the purpose of the greater good….public safety. There will be a post about driving on my new blog (it’s Jill btw)….I would love your input when the time comes! xoxo (be safe and watchout for those women in pink sunglasses who think stop lights are stupid)…”omg seriously??????”

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  50. I was going to comment on the lack of accountability people have on their actions and how they may be putting other people in harm because of those actions. But, I think the bigger thing here is that you tried to do something. I know it wasn’t safe, but what if something had been legitimately wrong. I’m not certain that I’d have the courage to step up and just say, “hey, are you alright?” I like to think I would, but I’m not sure.

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  51. Like you, I’ve been at red lights that go on forever and thought they were stupid. And like you, I follow the rules. Doesn’t matter how stupid they are, you do what you’re supposed to do so that everyone stays safe. Good for you for calling the police. I agree that approaching the car was dangerous, but I get why you did it. Let’s hope someone stopped her before she hurt someone.

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  52. Holy frackballs! That’s frickin insane. People can be soooo stupid.I’m glad you called and reported her though. Wise move and totally necessary.

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  53. So glad to hear you called the police! I, too, hope that someone caught up to her and gave her a good scolding!

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  54. You are one brave lady. My heart dropped when I read you went up to the car. Seriously. We all know none of us will ever do that ever, ever again after being reminded here. But good for you for reporting that nutso woman. I’m in FL right now (… your vacation home awaits …) and there are plenty of crazies on the road here too. Call #347 and there will be follow-up apparently.
    http://www.florida-lawblog.com/2009/09/florida-highway-patrol-encourages-you-to-report-dangerous-drivers.html
    There’s also this website to check out and apparently the reckless driver’s insurance company will receive a notice. I hope it’s legit. http://www.reportdangerousdrivers.com/ and also zapatag.com
    Good for you for calling the police. Thanks for the reminder not to simply shrug and let it go.

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  55. Guess you have never driven in Texas. Everyone is like that here, it is par for the course. I fear for the lives of bikers on our roads. We have stretches of the fastest roads filled with the most ignorant drivers. Yet, when I travel I find myself discovering road rage in more polite cities.

    Everyone is correct though, never approach a car. Never get out of your car. Dial 911, but never follow, never exit your car. Never!!

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  56. Impressive mix of vigilante and good Samaritan…the makings of a badass mommy!

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  57. Scary story! I think you did as much as you could have short of putting your own safety at risk. I’ve never seen anyone drive like that and I hope never to.

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  58. So smart of you to dial 911. Next time, stay in your car. Do not approach the other. Like they said, you just never know. You got lucky. I’d hate to think if something had happened. It kind of reminds me of my one trip to England. I got the impression that everyone treated the lights as decoration. Our taxi driver zipped and swerved around other drivers like he was used to utter chaos on the road.

    The very first week I own a cell phone (now this is really going back) I had a driver in front of me acting rather odd. He started missing lights, swerving in and out of his lane and acting rather erratic. I called 911 and they asked me to stay with him at a safe distance so that I could let them know where to send the authorities. He drove up dead ends and would turn around, never stopping. His tire popped and he kept going. By the time the cops showed up he was driving on his rim. Sparks were flying all over the place. They were able to get him to pull over.

    It was a poor old man, afraid and confused. So sad. I was able to help that day and see that he got home safely. But you never know who might be behind the wheel of the “other” car, so you can never be too careful. If they’re following you, I’ve been told to drive straight to the police station (Learned this info after I didn’t).

    I hope your gal got caught that day. I like the fact that we take our lights and signs seriously.

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  59. I can’t believe you got out of the car to confront her! Part of me thinks that was incredibly foolish, but my biggest response is respect – good for you for doing what you thought needed to be done.

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  60. A man just got beat nearly to death here in Seattle by a road rage driver. I’m so glad you didn’t get hurt, Renee!
    I have called 911 a few times when I’ve witnessed wreckless driving, and I ALWAYS call if I think they are drunk.

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  61. I’ll be the odd one out and say that I’m not surprised that you went to the car. I’d have done it, too…and then, like you, berated myself for it afterwards. Or listened to my husband lecture me about it. Or lain awake at night contemplating all the “What if?”

    It’s hard to reconcile my belief that people are basically good (if misguided, or driving-challenged) against stories and reports and newsfeed filled with people being bad. I don’t know how to change that – any of it.

    I’m the person who agonizes about not picking up hitchhikers on the lonely country roads I sometimes travel. If a car is stalled on the side of the road, I slow and sometimes get out to see if anyone needs help. 8 months pregnant with Matthew, I stalled out on the 401 (highway) and promptly stuck my thumb out, lumbering cheerfully into the cab of a transport truck, trusting the driver to be kind.

    He was. I was lucky. It makes me sad that I consider myself “lucky” when really, all he did was extend a decency and kindness to someone in need, like that driver you confronted might have been. If she weren’t such an idiot, I mean.

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  62. We live near our town’s high school. One day I saw a school bus filled with HS students pass another school bus stopped with its flashing lights and stop sign arm extended (which was picking up my own elementary aged kids)! I couldn’t believe what I witnessed! I had the presence of mind to get the bus number so I went in my house and called the HS to report this reckless driving. I don’t know if they actually followed up with the bus company as they said they would, but I felt better that I tried.

    Like

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