I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend the majority of my life behind the wheel, alone… commuting. Though others may have better uses of this alone time, I while away my commute observing those around me. With my super-duper observation skills, I have categorized my fellow drivers in five spectacular groups. Are you brave enough to recognize your own commuter type?
Driving down the highway, how often do we see cars move from lane to lane to lane and then back to their original lane? This type of driver is known as a Switch-a-Roo. This is the driver who is in a rush, late, or just downright impatient. If they are not switching to a new lane, they are darting back to the old lane. No matter how much traffic is on the road, THEY. MUST. CHANGE. LANES! This driver feels that everyone around them is going faster and they view their daily commute as an exhilarating race! I wonder if this is the same person at the grocery store who keeps changing checkout lanes?
Tips to remember as a Switch-a-Roo: Always check your blind spot and use your blinker, don’t take offense at any fingers that might be waved your way, and remember that no one is actually racing you around the outer loop!
Ever feel like your commute is just a huge waste of time and you have about a million other things to do? This type of driver has an ongoing list of mundane tasks that can be done in combination with other tasks, hence multi-tasking. This person does it all- shaves, plucks, reads, eats, applies make-up, texts, cleans, knits…. all while doing this little thing called driving. Now, I understand the need to check out the ‘do at a red light, but not so much while driving 80 mph down the I-95 express lanes!
Tips to remember as a Multi-Tasker: Go back to your driving school days; two hands on the wheel at all times. Some things are ONLY meant to be done in a private setting, not displayed on the highway. Next time you go to pull a nose hair while parked on I-270, think to yourself, would I want to watch someone else do this?
THE LAW OBEYER
Whether this driver has their hands at 10 and 2, or is going the exact speed limit, they know the rules of the road. As the Law Obeyer, you respect the road and other drivers. You are not going to rush through traffic and put yourself at risk. You probably keep a steady 55 mph pace while driving, in order to conserve fuel. It takes a lot to frustrate you on the road, you tend to ignore others around you and focus on driving. You can always spot this commuter in traffic as their blinker flashes exactly 100 feet before the exit. Was Driver’s Ed your favorite class?
Tips to remember as a Law Obeyer: As a fellow commuter, I respect your choice in following all of the laws and appreciate your patience for my driving. Please remember, sometimes you will need to speed up to pass a slower driver, especially if you choose to move into the fast lane. On second thought, leave the fast lane to your fellow drivers. They will thank you.
THE HEAD BANGER
Do you love singing and dancing along to music, no matter the size of the stage or who may be listening? Is music the way you survive life as a commuter? Then this is your type! This is the driver who uses rock ballads or the rhythmic beat of hip hop to endure their commute. Some belt Broadway show tunes or opera, while others are literally dancing in their seats. For many, the use of music is a way to pass time and escape the stress of the road. This is my favorite commuter to observe, as it is like watching a free concert. Ever play the game- “I wonder what station they’re listening to?” It’s one of my faves — try it sometime.
Tips to remember as a Head Banger: Everyone loves a good concert, but it would be a pity if the concert came to an abrupt end with an accident. Keep your eyes on the road and reserve the literal head banging for your next rock concert. Don’t let me rain on your parade though, dance like there’s nobody watching and sing like no commuter can hear you- just do it safely!
Whether I am at the beach or on my daily commute, one of my favorite hobbies is people watching. This is the type of driver who tends to lock uncomfortable stares in traffic, whether on purpose or by accident. All of a sudden you feel a creepy sensation, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, you look over and BAM! someone is staring right at you OR you just happen to be glancing around and you uncomfortably lock eyes with the person in the car next to you. Awkward! It seems like no matter how fast you go or how many lanes you change, you end up pulling alongside them at the next red light. And in the drone of beltway traffic, it seems like this person is next to you forever.
Tips to remember as a Creeper: You are not driving through a museum or at a bar to pick-up a date. Some people do mind being watched and find it extremely creepy. Unless the person is accepting your stare, stare at your own risk, and limit those glances. Eyes on the ROAD!
I admit, I am a roadway Creeper. You may find this pretty obvious (as I am writing an article about observing other drivers). I find it a passionate pastime to check out what everyone else around me is doing, but in a non-creepy way. I swear! All jokes aside, though, no matter the type of driver you are, please obey the basic rules of the road: look where you’re going, use your horn as a life-saving tool, flash that blinker and keep your hands on the wheel!
In the meantime, remember your lessons from Driver’s Ed and have a safe commute. I’ll see you on the road!
Jennifer “Jen, Jenny, J-Dawg, etc.” Neidenbach is an educator, mother, and wife from the Eastern Shore and a transplant to Anne Arundel County. When she is not working in the wonderful world of assessments, she enjoys spending time with family, long baths, and crushing candy.