Merkel’s Road Dufus (1046)


This week we’re looking at The Road Dufus by Merkel Weiss

Professor Weiss, as many know him is a colleague and friend of mine for many years and always speaks his mind and simply doesn’t mince words. I’m on vacation, but I think he needs to get away too. He is a brilliant engineer and as some know was an automotive designer in Detroit and later spent many years teaching future car designers at the prestigious Art Center School of Design in Pasadena, CA. Many of his students now populate much of the automotive world.

Herewith is a bit of driving frustration revealed. Definition of a Dufus or Doofus: A fool, idiot, airhead, birdbrain, boob. A Doofus is many things because there are many perceptions of how a person is behaving makes them suspect of being a genuine fool or even worse.

Driving in populated, highly congested areas is always difficult and often risky. The purpose of the article then, is to identify the risky drivers by their behavior so as to avoid their consistently visible errors in judgment and bad choices negatively influencing our lives. The advantages are many. So here, in no particular order are the traits of the road dufus, the driver that you want to avoid at all cost.

While stopped at an intersection, it’s easy to spot drivers who either pull up so far as to block the Intersection or else hang back so far so as to fail to trip the underground magnetometer loop. In this way they either block traffic indicating that they are obviously more important than everyone else, or they’ll sit there indefinitely until someone from the opposing direction triggers the switch and changes the light. If you get behind a dufus in a left turn lane, it’s best to get around them and go straight if you want to get where you’re going. Similarly, anyone waiting at a red signal who leaves more than a car length between their car and the car in front of them is telling you to get in front of them or lag behind in slow motion until you get around them.

Merging on the freeway is an art in many cases, but it’s not that complicated. Come up to freeway speed and merge behind the car that has enough space behind. Those who drive the entrance lane without coming to a safe merging speed need to be avoided. They are telling you that they know how to drive cautiously but they don’t know how to drive safely. In general the merge is a time when accidents are more likely to occur, so it’s always safer to merge into a sufficiently large spot at consistent speed. Avoid the road dufus who merges at speeds slower than prevailing traffic.

While on the freeway, it’s best to be concerned with any driver who fails to turn off their turn signal or hazard flashers. This is often, but not always a symbol of an inattentive dufus. You might give them a break if they’re driving an historic or loud-ish car as they might not be able to hear the clicking flasher. Overall though, driving with hazard lights, flashers or wipers on for no apparent reason is a sign of gross inattention and road dufus-ism.

Similarly while on the freeway, if you see a driver riding the brakes or stopping unnecessarily in heavy traffic, this is an excellent car to avoid. Hanging in the left hand lane (known alternatively as the fast lane or the passing lane) is a sign of the driver either being more important than everyone else and/or being clueless to the flow of traffic in the other lanes. This is probably the most common road dufus. They’re only asking to be passed since no amount of flashing or honking ever seems to help alert them to their position as an island in the river of progress.

The rubbernecker is a dufus who is easily identifiable at the time, but in general traffic often not. The rubbernecker doesn’t show them until something appears in the opposing direction that’s sufficiently interesting to cause them to slow down and gawk, thereby reducing the speed of everyone behind them. You get past a rubbernecker and you’re on open highway around here. That’s about like striking gold on your commute home.

Thank you Merkel and although some may not have experienced what you have while driving I know I sure have. But I often try to find a reason why they are behaving as they are. I choose to think they are having a bad day, their wife or husband left them that day, a loved one died and they just aren’t themselves. All other are jerks and should not be driving because they are clueless as to how they can hurt others. DON’T BE A DUFUS!

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is
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