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Top five most infuriating driver habits | opinion

It's hard to know where to draw the line in terms of motoring bad behaviour.

The problem with drawing up a list of the Top Five Most Annoying Behaviours of Other Drivers Who Shouldn't Even be Allowed on the Road is not knowing where to start, but where to stop. If only there were only five such habits.

It's also hard to know where to draw the line in terms of motoring bad behaviour, because perhaps the most annoying thing another driver can do is leave home and forget to bring his or her car (to be fair, it's usually a "him"). These people will often then head out on the roads on their bicycles instead, and yet somehow forget that they're not in a motor vehicle, and thus don't deserve to be treated like they are.

Don't get me started on them.

So, we'll try to keep the list of the top five - compiled with the help of such sources as the RACQ's annual What Drives You Crazy research (tailgating came in number one this year), and a survey of more than 15,000 Australian motorists conducted by dash-cam-maker Navman, which found that almost every single road user they asked was annoyed by other motorist's behaviour; in particular people driving too slowly, not indicating or being lost.

1. Driving slowly in the overtaking lane

The embarrassing and mystifying truth is that in many civilised countries - and pretty much all of Europe - this simply doesn't happen, because they understand something called "lane discipline".

If you've driven in Australia, however, you'll be all to too familiar with the driver who pulls into the right lane not long after leaving home and sits there, seemingly waiting for Hell to freeze over, and quite often deciding the speed limit, while a train of infuriated motorists grows ever longer behind them.

It's an overtaking lane, stupid, you use it for overtaking, and then you pull back to the left. It's not rocket science, and the law-makers have even conveniently made your behaviour illegal. Frankly, a lot of us would like to see it made punishable by death. Or at least public flogging.

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2. Using your mobile phone while at the wheel (Took top sport on the RACQ's list last year, number two in 2016)

Speaking of things that are illegal, for your own good, and more importantly the good of the rest of us, using your mobile phone while driving - particularly to send, or even read, text messages - rates an eleventy out of 10 on the Stupid Scale,

Sadly, if Darwinian law does take you out of the gene pool, you might take one of us with you, so we'd prefer it if you just stopped.

We know you're dim, but here's some maths to think about. Even at 60km/h, your car is moving at more than 16m per second. The two seconds it takes you to check your phone adds up to 32m of road you're travelling over without looking.

And one more thing; those glassy bits in your car - the windows and the windscreen - they're two-way visible. Yes, we can see you're on the bloody phone. Now put it down.

3. Tailgating

This one always rates highly in any survey of bad driver behaviour, and took top spot in the RACQ research again this year.

We all know why people do it; they're trying to intimidate the driver in front of them, to hurry them along, or to scare them if they're in the midst of some road-rage incident (another habit that could easily sneak into the top five).

If the person in front of you is going slowly in the overtaking lane, this may even be a tempting idea, but again, you just need to think this through logically.

Tailgating someone leaves you with absolutely no time to react if something happens. The typical human being takes around a second to actually respond to a sudden stop by the person in front of them; that's how long it takes just to actually move your foot towards the brake pedal.

Even at 60km/h, you're going to be 16m up the car in front of yours' backside if you've been tailgating, before you even start the process of stopping.

Tailgating is annoying, bullying behaviour, but it's also just as dangerous to the person who's doing it as it is to the driver being subjected to it.

4. Speeding up when being overtaken

There is some human behaviour that's so stupid your brain can't quite believe it's happening, even when it occurs right in front of you. Someone buying a Chinese car, for example, or wearing a Vote Trump t-shirt, or eating dog food.

It's very much the same with people who speed up when you overtake them. You can see they're doing it, but you can't quite believe that they would, because it's so obviously pathological.

Again, we know why people - and again, it's usually men - do this. It's because they feel their manhood has been challenged by your overtaking manoeuvre; that their essential belief that they are among the best, and fastest, people on the road anywhere on Earth is being challenged.

Their response is, basically, to attempt to kill you, by leaving you stranded on the wrong side of the road.

You'll notice that people don't tend to make eye contact with you when doing this, because they know, deep down, that it's shameful behaviour.

5. Failure to indicate

This came in top of the list for most universally annoying behaviour in the Navman survey, and always rates highly in the infuriation index.

The big difference between this habit and most others is that it's not a wilful act of idiocy or disrespect, it's more a lack of courtesy caused by extreme, almost criminal apathy.

It's hard to imagine that anyone fails to indicate on purpose, but all too easy to believe that many people just can't be stuffed. Lord knows it's exhausting, lifting your finger and stabbing at that stalk. Time after time. Phew, we get sweaty just thinking about it.

This is also one of those habits that's not at all unique to Australians; it's a kind of laziness that infects humans the world over, but it sure is infuriating, not to mention dangerous and dumb.

Other honourable mentions:

  • Inability to merge
  • Motorists who throw litter out of their vehicles
  • Drivers displaying aggressive behaviour, e.g. blowing horn, verbal abuse or hand signals
  • Motorists who aren't courteous;  allowing room to merge/change lanes
  • Drivers turning from the wrong lane, particularly at multi-lane roundabouts
  • People who block intersections
  • Motorists who park incorrectly, particularly in disabled spaces
  • Drivers who ignore restricted speed limits, e.g. at school zones or road works

What bad driving habits get your blood boiling? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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