Friday, July 15, 2005

Ottawa Traffic (part 5) - Queensway* Edition

Arm hangers. While not technically a driving problem, in general if you see an arm hanging out of a drivers side window you can bet that that person is going to be a bit more relaxed when it comes to following the rules of the road. And by arm hanging, I don't mean a person with their forearm or elbow resting on the window sill, no, I mean a person whose arm is pointing directly towards the ground. I not even talking about someone who sticks their arm out every once in a while, I'm talking about the guys whose arm never finds it's way back into the cab of their car to perform such tasks as, say, signaling when changing lanes. Not that these guys necessarily signal when their arms aren't 3/4's out of the window, it's just an additional tool, on those warmer days, to help identify the likely suspects from further away.

Take yesterday for example, I'm driving Weiser to the vet (apparently their are only 3 or 4 ferret vets in Ottawa and none live next door to me) and on the way there I see at least a dozen cars and trucks with an arm fully extended out the window. Out of the 12+, I only saw one actually use a signal light and he was at a red light just before getting onto the highway.

The worse offender, bar none, was driving at 130 kph (just going with the flow of the fast lane so no problem there) while towing a small trailer and tailgating to the point that there wasn't even a cars length between him and the car in front of him. I know this because at one time I was driving beside him. He then began constantly changing lanes to try to get a few more feet ahead even though the Queensway was pretty packed and there was no where to go. He actually cut me off more than once as he cut to the inside lane and then back to the fast lane. I'll admit that I was trying to help the car in front of him by getting close enough to prevent his re-entering the lane whenever he left, but no matter how close I got, he never saw it as a deterrent. Of course this whole time his arm was hanging uselessly outside the window and his signal light, both on the trailer and the car, never flickered once, except when he was braking (so I know the lights worked).

I was actually hoping that he would get in behind me at some point because I have this nasty habit of hitting the brakes suddenly if someone is tailgating me too closely. I can't help it. It just so happens that that's the time I most often see one of those infamous highway gophers (or at least that's the story I'm going with). Of course I never drop speed enough to leave any type of mark but it does usually work to persuade them to drop back a bit. I guess it's like my version of a 'crazy Ivan'.

Anyway, consider this my little warning to keep an eye out for the hanging arm. And if you are one of those serial hangers, I hope you are that 1 in 12 that respects other motorists enough to sacrifice your own comfort for the 1 second it takes to pull back in your arm to flick that signal light. And if you tailgate, arm in or out, just be careful when you come up behind a silver Grand Am GT. Consider yourself warned.

* While Ottawa may not be a 'one horse' town it is pretty much a one highway one, and that one highway is the Queensway (not to be confused with Toronto's Queen Elizabeth Way).

The rest of the 'Ottawa Traffic' series (mostly so I can see what I've already bitched about):

Ottawa Traffic (Part 1)
Ottawa Traffic (Part 2)
Ottawa Traffic (Part 3)
Ottawa Traffic (Part 4)

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