The World’s Worst Drivers

We all know what a bad driver is — someone who doesn’t drive the way we think he should! But let’s try to define our terms a bit more precisely. Who are the worst drivers out there? And why?

Years of carefully conducted research have resulted in the identification of six major archetypes. Learn to recognize them – and give them a wide berth!

The Cringer
This driver is clearly terrified of mechanized transport; you’ll see him/her (cringers are not sex-specific) clutching the steering wheel in a Praying Mantis death grip, both hands near the very top – knuckles bony and white. Body posture is hunched up, head often far forward, with a fearful grimace distorting the facial features. The Cringer will never attempt right on red even when perfectly legal to do so – and even when there’s not another car around for miles. The Cringer is also prone to stopping completely on freeway on-ramps, left signal blinking painfully. Cringers rarely get speeding or other moving violation tickets, however – because they’re so averse to movement of any kind.

The Would-Be Mario
Unfortunately for everyone who encounters the would-be Mario, the only control he’s mastered is the accelerator pedal. Marios love to simulate automotive mating rituals by riding inches off the bumper of the car ahead. Unlike the real Mario Andretti, however, they have yet to learn the consequences of such intimacy should the first car have to brake suddenly. Marios also habitually cut to the front of any line of merging cars, shoving the nose of their primered late ’80s Ford Probe GT into even the smallest of openings. Marios are almost always young men – but once in awhile, a female of the species may be encountered. She is usually also a cell phone Chatty Kathy (see below).

The Distracted Mom
Usually encountered at the helm of an over-large SUV or minivan, the Distracted Mom is too busy dealing with her screeching, run-amok brood to notice the motorcycle in the adjacent lane she almost just ran over. Or that the light ahead turned green 30 seconds ago. The Distracted Mom is concerned about the safety of her progeny – but apparently, no one else’s. Always adopt pre-emptive cautionary measures when you spot a minivan or SUV plastered with multiple yellow and purple ribbons, stickers of soccer balls and personalized plates with “mom” or “kids” worked into them. You have been warned!

The Senile Citizen
This driver’s next ride will be a hearse, but for now you’ll find him (or her) creeping along in a mid-’90s Buick or Cadillac with a vinyl roof and fake wire wheels at 10-20 mph below the posted speed limit. Or wandering gently across the double yellow and back again, an angry line of frustrated not-yet-coffin-models stacked up behind the slow-going oldster. Like the Distracted Mom, the Senile Citizen tends to have a righteous sense of entitlement when it comes to driving – even when it’s clear that the only thing with wheels they ought to be allowed to control is a wheelchair.

The Cell Phone Chatty Kathy
These are Important People who have many Big Things to discuss that simply Cannot Wait. Expressive gesturing often accompanies these Important Calls – which invariably distract the Important Person, who is Too Busy to notice the intersection is clear and it’s safe to make a right turn merge – leaving everyone else stuck behind them with Less Important Lives to wait and stew. Studies have found that cell phones cause driver impairment comparable to having a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or more – but you won’t see any mom-driven “safety jihads” against cell phones. Because they are just Too Important.

The Ba-Boom Ba-Boom Teen
He’s too legit to quit, with his mega-bass rap “music” thwomping obstreperously from the oversized speakers cut into the door panels of his clapped-out Honda Hooptie. It’s not so much his driving that annoys; it’s his belligerent use of noise to ruin the driving environment, increasing the tension and adding to the discomfort of those stuck anywhere near his auditory excesses. The Ba-Boom Teen may not drive recklessly himself – but he incites others to do so, just to get away from the racket.

This is a guest post by automotive columnist Eric Peters, check him out on the web at

What kind of driver annoys you the most on the road?
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