humans can't be this random, right?
August 18, 2006 2:21 PM   Subscribe

could there actually be a reason why so many of the bad drivers in the 'hoods around here make a particularly dangerous move so often: left-turns from the far-right lane, and vice versa?

i am doing significantly more driving lately for work, which takes me through The Hood rather frequently (think Southeast, or PG county, wash DC). i'm driving mostly on roads that have 4 total lanes, sometimes with a median in the middle, sometimes not.

i'd say that nearly a full 1/3 of the turns i see other cars make in these areas follow this crazy pattern. it seems like an astonishingly high proportion for all of them to be just careless, lost, or otherwise honestly misdirected, right?

so the other day it occurred to me that one might actually have a reason, e.g., if one is trying to make sure they're not being followed, a la Red October's "crazy ivan" move or something. what are the odds people do this on purpose for what they think is a good reason? any rumors or urban legends about such things? (or is it more likely just a confluence of idiocy, cell-phone talking, and rule-dodging?)
posted by garfy3 to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think its more likely that in those areas traffic enforcement is not as much of a concern for the police in comparison to more serious crime, and if people can get away with it they will do it. Also it is possible that since you aware that you are in an area outside of your comfort zone you are noticing behavior that wouldnt stand out to you in more gentrified areas. That being said I saw some crappy driving when I was driving through Anacostia last year, and most bad drivers I see in Arlington have DC or MD plates...
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:28 PM on August 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


That sort of move does seem to be characteristic of inner-city type drivers, I saw it a lot in Detroit.

Which is not to say they're WORSE drivers, they just tend to take rather spectacular risks doing stunts like that, whereas suburban drivers tend to be inattentive and have poor control over their vehicles (i.e. cannot make a 90 degree turn to save their lives) and rural drivers just drive waay too damn fast.

As for why, not actually being from that area myself, I can't tell ya.
posted by dagnyscott at 2:39 PM on August 18, 2006


Were they turning left onto a one-way street at a T-type intersection?
posted by Wild_Eep at 2:45 PM on August 18, 2006


People in DC seem to be terrible drivers, at all socioeconomic levels. I've never seen so many people run red lights.
posted by footnote at 2:48 PM on August 18, 2006


Wild_Eep: can't say i've seen this around any one-way streets, but i'm usually paying more attention to not hitting them than to where they're headed. however, it usually does seem to be at a "t" intersection, with a light.
posted by garfy3 at 2:54 PM on August 18, 2006


BobbyDigital, i think you're onto something with the slack traffic enforcement notion. i've seen some crazybad stunts in full view of cops that don't give it a second thought. ...probably have worse things to worry about, though, which is understandable.
posted by garfy3 at 3:10 PM on August 18, 2006


Are they being followed?
posted by blue_beetle at 3:30 PM on August 18, 2006


When I lived in the hood-y parts of St Louis, I noticed some seemingly insane driving habits that I thought for sure would get people pulled over. It eventually became obvious to me that cops were afraid of being in some of those neighborhoods, and wouldn't stop if you were on fire, without 3 cars backup.
posted by nomisxid at 3:44 PM on August 18, 2006


I read once, this was in Harpers in the early 90's, that turns like these were made, esp the right turn from the left hand lane, so as to never be able to be trapped between the curb and another car. If you can be headed off and trapped against the curb, you are easier to shoot. Even in non-dangerous type areas, I think this move is still used to show street knowledge. This was from the collect 150 years Harpers anthology, if i recall right, the essay/interview "when you're are crip or a blood".
posted by cascando at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2006


Is it too early to blame cell phones?

Drivers wind up making last minute stupid decisions like that when they are distracted.
posted by hermitosis at 3:53 PM on August 18, 2006


nomisxid is 100% correcto.
posted by pieoverdone at 4:14 PM on August 18, 2006


I read once, this was in Harpers in the early 90's, that turns like these were made, esp the right turn from the left hand lane, so as to never be able to be trapped between the curb and another car. If you can be headed off and trapped against the curb, you are easier to shoot. Even in non-dangerous type areas, I think this move is still used to show street knowledge.

My neighborhood is near a bad black slum and when people from there walk through my neighborhood they often walk in the street, not sidewalk. I once asked a guy why and was given a lecture on how people in his area are trained not to walk on sidewalks because surprise attacks are much easier there.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:19 PM on August 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


People in DC seem to be terrible drivers, at all socioeconomic levels. I've never seen so many people run red lights.

It's true. I've always thought it's 'cause driving in DC is so frustrating and annoying.

and most bad drivers I see in Arlington have DC or MD plates.

Yeah, yeah -- and the bad drivers in MD always have VA plates. And the bad drivers in Kansas always have Nebraska plates. And so on.
posted by Rash at 6:18 PM on August 18, 2006


Absence of law enforcement obviously has nothing to do with it, that's far more universal than this practice. Generally lazy driving has nothing to do with it for the same reason. Fear of being followed seems kinda unlikely as it's unclear to me how this would help any.

cascando's so as to never be able to be trapped between the curb and another car seems like the only halfway likely answer so far.

Only other thing I can think of is that maybe they're trying to follow a racing line, the fastest possible way to go 'round a corner, which would mean starting a left turn from the far right lane, and ending it on the far right. If they're going fast while doing this, that's presumably what they're aiming for. If not, maybe they just think it's a smooth way to turn 'cause they don't have to turn the wheel as much. That would show remarkable dedication to laziness, but I can imagine how it might get to be a fashionable thing to do.
posted by sfenders at 7:19 PM on August 18, 2006


I had a guy do that in front of me out near Morristown (on Long Island). I'm driving in the left-most lane on a 8 lane, two-way, surface road with no raised median and there's a guy about 50 yards in front of me and in the next to the right-most lane. There are no other cars on the road because it's fairly early in the morning on a Saturday.

So I'm driving along about 45 miles an hour or so when, all of a sudden, this car takes a hard left, in front of me, as though he's suddenly decided to make a U-turn.

I slam on my brakes and hit him probably going 5 miles an hour or so. I was this close to stopping in time, too.

I hit him in the B-pillar, between the driver's door and the driver's-side passenger door.

He had a classic look of surprise: mouth in an "O", eyes as big as dinner plates.

Luckily, my air bag didn't go off, and there was no damage to my car (I hit him dead-on), but his car was all kinds of fucked-up. His doors were caved in and wouldn't open and his wheels looked a little wonky. He wasn't hurt at all.

We both got out of our cars, took a look at the relative damage, agreed that it was entirely his fault, and I was happy to not involve our insurance companies or the cops.

He limped off in his beat-up Neon and I went on with my day.

Before he drove off I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing.

He replied, "I didn't think there was anyone else on the road."

And this was a balding, pot-bellied, middle-aged white guy in a suburban mall-type area.
posted by bshort at 11:31 PM on August 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


People in DC seem to be terrible drivers, at all socioeconomic levels. I've never seen so many people run red lights.

ESPECIALLY in the snow! Do not drive in D.C. if it starts to snow, people lose all sorts of sense and start flipping their cars left and right....

and most bad drivers I see in Arlington have DC or MD plates.

Yeah, yeah -- and the bad drivers in MD always have VA plates. And the bad drivers in Kansas always have Nebraska plates. And so on.


Actually this is interesting now that I think about it. Everyone compares about the other state, The MD and VA sides probably have different driving customs and mores that don't translate when drivers cross the border...
posted by stratastar at 1:47 PM on August 19, 2006


I have heard of this referred to as a gangster, or ghetto turn. If you happen to watch a rap video from the 90s, in the Chronic or Straight Outta Compton era and later, you'll see this quite frequently.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:18 PM on August 20, 2006


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