Top 10 things other drivers do that annoy you.
I know, it sounds like some lame morning-radio call-in, but Hagerty Insurance, the excellent collector car-insurance firm, just released a survey to that effect. You can see the whole list here
, but I have a simpler one: The Big Three that make my blood boil.
1. Tailgating. You may as well just flip me off and hold it there. Tailgating is an outrage, and my sole response to it is to gradually, immutably slow down until you are completely out of your mind with foaming, spitting rage. Save yourself the aggravation. Go around.
2. Talking on the phone. I'm a convert on this one. And while I do it myself, I really have pared it down to short goal-oriented calls, not entertainment talk. So I am highly annoyed by other drivers who you can just tell are yakking to kill time while they drive:
"Hey, what are you doing?" Arrgghh.
"Nothing, what are you doing?"
"Oh, just stuck in traffic, you know."
"Yeah, that's a bummer. What else is going on?"
3. Road rage. All the previous notwithstanding, anyone who makes a huge scene on the road is a confirmed moron.
3a (bonus round). Abused cars. I cannot comprehend someone driving a $65,000 car so new that it still wears temporary tags, yet it's already dented and has a deep black coating of front-wheel-brake dust that proves it has never been washed. We see a lot of this in San Francisco, where affluent people are conflicted; they want to drive a fancy car to impress their friends, but they also want to be considered cool by the counterculturists who dictate pop sensibilities here. Look, it's always cool to take care of your car.
CAFE will climb but not really. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulation, or CAFE, is a number each carmaker must hit when they average together the miles-per-gallon ratings of all cars they sell in a given year. That number must be at least 27.5mpg--a standard that has been in place for 21 years. It will probably be raised soon but by a paltry 10 percent to 30.25mpg, starting in the model-year 2009-2010. But even that won't be any real improvement, since carmakers already deliver an industry average of 29mpg. Oh, and if you're impressed that even with all those SUVs on the road, we still average 29mpg, don't be--that number doesn't count pickups, SUVs, and light trucks, which have always been given a pass to be pigs.
Pioneer joins the portable GPS fray. Its new AVIC-S1 is a portable GPS nav device that enters a market ripe for a shakeout. There are actually too many really good handheld nav devices on the market now for all of them to succeed. The Pioneer AVIC-S1 may survive, since it makes nice use of Bluetooth; you can dial any point of interest on the map via your cell with a click. I guess that's exciting. It also has a particularly handsome design. The list price will be $599 when it arrives next month.
What annoys you the most about other drivers on the road?
Another good reason to be nervous about a used car. I'm one of those people who keeps his car pretty much showroom clean. Maybe I'm weird, but you'll never get into my car and see food wrappers, drink cups, old newspapers, or anything else that wasn't put there by the factory. Well, it looks like old Felix Unger here was on the right track all along. GM just issued an odd press release, warning that car interiors are a virtual petri dish for molds and bacteria because of all those nooks where spilled stuff can ferment, coupled with the low volume of fresh air inside a car.
Taking the car out of car tech. I admit this at the risk of unemploying myself (which would cause no small delight among a portion of you), but a fair amount of what we consider car tech today may be a dead end. Applications such as navigation, communication, music, and video may be best handled by a smart phone or other portable in the near future, not by an in-dash device. Carmakers aren't good at that stuff anyway--nobody looks to factory equipment as the paragon of audio, video, or navigation technology. And factory gear is bolted into a car, which for most of us is a place we occupy for a short time each day before we leave all the tech locked up in a cold garage for the day. It makes no sense. The car should have only an amp, speakers, a dumb monitor, and wireless connectivity to make those things slaves to our portables.