Dakota L. Rose

Professor Ramos

English 1B

September 19, 2018

Dreadful Driving

            Bad drivers. We’ve all seen them, everywhere. Especially on the freeway. People cutting us off, texting while driving, running red lights, speeding, neglecting to use their turn signals, stopping in the middle of intersections, holding up traffic, not coming to full stops in ANY scenario, and driving slow on the freeway (in the fast lane). While all of this happens all over the country, it appears to be especially bad in California.

Before progressing, lets take a look at the 2016 statistics for bad drivers in California and what our rankings were. Just to put it in your mind for the rest of this topic.

“A new analysis of accident data says California has the second worst drivers in the nation. The ranking follows other reports that have reached similar conclusions.”

The analysis, by insurance comparison site QuoteWizard, looked at its own user reports, Federal Highway Administration data, state fatality info and tickets for speeding, DUI and other violations to come up with its ranking, weighed for driver population.

“California is No. 7 for accidents, No. 9 for speeding and No. 5 for citations,” according to a statement from QuoteWizard. “Even worse, it’s No. 2 for DUIs, and the second-worst state overall.” (Romero 1)

Now keep in mind, these might not be the most current of statistics, but they are from December of 2016, a little less than two years ago. And you know it hasn’t gotten better since then. For the sake of time, we are only going to go over a few of the more prevalent bad driving habits.

First up to the plate; not using your turn signals. This is the most common complaint I hear about negligent drivers and arguably one of the most dangerous. Turn signals were designed with the explicit purpose of signaling to other drivers that you are about to make a turn or lane change. This gives other drivers a chance to react to your move and plan accordingly. This makes turns and lane changes much safer, with a highly reduced chance of accidents. Unfortunately, there are many people who either forget to activate their signals, forget to deactivate their signals (which just causes confusion), or just don’t care enough to use them. And this is the result:



According to research conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), drivers who fail to use their turn signals accounts for over 2 million accidents annually. Comparatively, distracted driving accounts for around 950,000 accidents annually. This means that nearly 1 in 5 of all crashes in the United States can be attributed to neglected turn signals! (Stafford 1)

Forgetting to use your turn signals (or just flat out refusing in a lot of cases) puts every other driver on the road in danger and raises the chances of an accident occurring exponentially. There are many multitudes of why people don’t use their signals. Many people don’t use them when other drivers aren’t present, which is understandable, but this often develops the habit of not using them at all. Other drivers genuinely forget to use their signals. Others are just too lazy. Regardless of the reason, by California law, you are required to signal before turning, merging, pulling over, pulling into traffic, or parking. If so many people are indeed too lazy to perform such a simple task, it’s remarkable that they have enough willpower to drive in the first place.

Speaking of lane changes, lane discipline is something we seem to have a problem with. One of the rules of the freeway is for slower cars to keep to the right of the freeway, as to not impede the rest of traffic. However, you all have undoubtably seen people driving, too slowly, in whatever lane they please, therefore slowing down the rest of traffic.

Lane discipline is non-existent — most California Drivers clearly feel that it’s their inalienable right to drive in whatever lane they feel like, at whatever speed they want, regardless of their speed in relation to other traffic. There is actually a rule that says you should try to keep to the right unless passing, but it is universally ignored. Since California’s driving laws allow you to pass in a slower lane (i.e. to the right) when it’s safe and there’s a properly-marked lane, this isn’t usually too bad, but it’s also unfortunately common for an entire freeway to have all four lanes in the same direction moving at much the same (under-the-limit) speed, for no other reason than there’s no way past the four slow-moving cars. (Reid 1)

Unfortunately, there doesn’t really appear to be a way to enforce lane discipline. Its just a constant, ongoing problem with real solution in sight. Though enforcing the speed limit can help limit the issue

Next up to bat; a driving classic. Texting while driving. This issue is most prevalent amongst those 25 and below. That includes the teenagers. Especially the teenagers. The effects of doing so are clear. It distracts the driver from the road. People have undoubtedly seen hundreds of commercials on T.V. advertising the dangers of this action. I myself have seen a few of the staged car accidents that some high schools put together. Many, many people are aware of the danger they put themselves in when they text and drive. Unfortunately, not everyone responds appropriately.

“The approaching car was on my right, slowing for the stop sign ahead. I started across but midway I realized the driver’s attention had drifted and her car was regaining speed, veering my way. It was too late to dodge it, so I threw myself onto the hood. Startled, the young woman looked up from her smartphone. Texting. Of course. She braked and I rolled gingerly off her hood before she sped away. I was furious. Had I been older and less mobile, pushing a baby stroller, or preoccupied with a cellphone myself (another growing problem), her negligence might have been fatal.” (Wilson 1)

The are plenty of ways to communicate with others without taking your eyes off the road, Bluetooth and Siri being prime examples of this. Though for some reason people seem to be fixated on texting. Similarly, to the lack of turn signals, using a cellular device dramatically increases the rate of driver related injury and death.

One viable solution to fixing this problem is to have frequent “renewal tests” for a driver’s license. After a set amount of time, drivers would need to go back to the DMV to be retested on their driving capabilities. If they pass their test they get to keep their license until the next testing. If they fail however, their license will either be limited or revoked, depending on how badly they fail the test. In the event that a license is revoked, it can be restored upon completion of the next test. This method would rely heavily on the how effective the testers are at their job, and a substantial amount of trial and error would be needed to discover how often these tests should take place. It would take quite a bit of effort, but if implemented correctly, this method could solve a significant amount of driver-related issues and fatalities.


Annotated Bibliography

  1. Romero, Dennis. “California Drivers Continue to Rank Among the Nation’s Worst.” L.A. Weekly, L.A. Weekly News, 7 Dec. 2016, 5:50am, www.laweekly.com/news/california-drivers-continue-to-rank-among-the-nations-worst-7664327.

This article is rather short, but it gets a certain message across. It gives some statistics on what was (at the time) the current rankings for California in categories such as accidents, speeding, citations, and DUIs. I’ll probably use this information at near the beginning of the prompt, as it gives the readers a base on how bad our drivers are and how gives them something to talk about while they continue reading. It will probably remain purely introductory, as it doesn’t give a whole lot of information. The article was posted in LA Weekly, a very well-known newspaper based in Los Angeles, California. The article’s writer previously worked at the LA Times and Philadelphia Inquirer and participated in the coverage of LA’s riots.

  1. Reid, Hamish. “California Driving – Bad Habits (And Worse).” California Driving: A Survival Guide, WordPress, 3 Jan. 2016, www.californiadriving.com/california-driving-bad-habits-worse/.

This website is exactly what it says it is, a survival guide to driving in California. The specific page that we are referring to though gives very in-depth descriptions of the several (if not all) of the bad driving habits in California, while also giving some of the author’s personal experiences with each habit. References to this page will probably be scattered throughout the prompt, as it gives very in-depth detail. While the website isn’t from some well-known, established writer, he’s been around California for years along with other states, so he has personal experience and places to compare to.

  1. LeBlanc, John. “10 Types of Bad Drivers Who Must Be Stopped.” Driving, Postmedia                  Network Inc., 10 May 2016, driving.ca/auto-news/entertainment/10-types-of-bad-drivers-that-drive-us-nuts.

This is another article that gives exactly what you expect based on the names. 10 types of bad drivers. Knowing that bad things exist is one thing, but putting a label on the different varieties of them helps immensely. There will probably be one paragraph based on these categories of drivers. One discrepancy however is that Postmedia Network is based in Canada, not the US. Not a huge problem, as bad drivers exist everywhere, and I can vouch that I have seen all of these drivers.

  1. Stafford, Shane. “Turn Signal Neglect: Leading Cause of Accidents – Stafford Law                        Firm.” Shane Stafford, The Stafford Firm, 22 Aug. 2018,                                                       www.shanestafford.com/turn-signal-neglect-causes-motor-vehicle-accidents/.

This one goes over the lack of turn signal use, it being one of the most common forms of bad driving habits and the leading cause of accidents. With this being one of the most common forms, I figured I should go over it. This article even puts a number on the amount of accidents this causes yearly, which is nice. Statistics are always helpful. This information comes from a law firm that is based in Florida. Once again, not California, but it’s still within the U.S. and the numbers are based on the country in its entirety, not just Florida.

  1. Wilson, John M. “Texting While Driving Is as Dangerous as Driving Drunk. We Need                to Treat It Accordingly.” LAtimes.com, Los Angeles Times, 4 Apr. 2018,                          www.latimes.com/opinion/livable-city/la-oe-wilson-texting-while-driving-20180404-story.html

Another extremely common form of negligent driving. This article is a little different. Instead of going over statistics and metaphors, the author talks about his personal experience with texting drivers while he was in LA. And how it almost killed him. Statistics and percentages are nice and all, but nothing quite beats a witty story making light of a possibly fatal mistake.