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Illustration by Gregg Bender | The Journal Gazette

What’s driving us crazy

Turn signal troubles are top frustration on streets of city

– Use your blankety-blankety-bleep-bleeping turn signals, Fort Wayne! Then turn ’em off when you’re done! And something else you should know: When you’re at a four-way stop, the driver to your immediate right may move first when you both get there at the same time. No need to wave at each other.

Love ya, Fort Wayne. But for a town jammed with so many vehicles, you need help when it comes to driving. Many of us are pretty decent at it, but there are a few out there that … whew! … you really got permission to operate that car?

With that in mind, we went out in search of finding what drives people crazy about local drivers. Pet peeves, if you will. What turns our blood cold on Coldwater Road? What makes us ill on Illinois Road? Things we shouldn’t see on Coliseum Boulevard.

So we randomly approached local drivers about what irritates them the most behind the wheel; not hang-your-head-out-the-window-screaming-mad, or deserving of a one-digit salute, but stuff that makes the blood pressure jump 20 points between Lake Avenue and State Boulevard.

More than half (28) of the 51 people we interviewed said that not using turn signals was their No. 1 irritant, but also that we leave them on even when we’re not turning.

When you’re in the (blink) right lane and another (blink) car wants to pass, no one (blink) can be certain if you’re (blink) changing lanes because your (blink) left signal is still on or you (blink) just aren’t paying attention.


Like that.

But then there are the many drivers reminiscent of the old Motown group: The Drifters. “The biggest one is when people cut you off,” Debbie Wise says. “They start drifting into your lane. You’re like, ‘You almost wrecked my car’ kind of thing. I get that a lot ’cause I commute up north.”

We then asked her opinion of local drivers, in general:

“I don’t live here,” Wise says. “I can’t reflect on that as much. I’m from California. That’s a lousy place to drive in. After the West Coast, this is chump change. People might stress out here; this is nothing compared to California.”

Indiana State Police spokesman Sgt. Ron Galaviz admits his stress level about drivers and that of others on the force was stretched to the maximum during the particularly brutal and snowy winter.

“We saw hundreds of crashes,” he says. “You’d be surprised how many people tell us, ‘I was going 70 miles per hour on the interstate.’ But when there was four inches of snow on the ground.

“For us, it’s a pet peeve, ’cause when you’re going from crash to crash to crash to crash to crash, it eventually gets old and becomes a pet peeve.”

As a driver for M&M Distributing, which delivers products to stores, John Batten sees his share of motorists every day.

Many, he said, aren’t courteous to others.

“People act like their space is more important; their lives are more important than you,” he says. “They’re in a hurry. It’s OK for you to wait on them, but they don’t have a second to wait on you. I guess that’s my biggest pet peeve.”

No. 2 on Fort Wayne’s pet peeve list are the texters. These are the people who carry on a 160-characters-per-minute text conversation via their cellphones while driving 45 mph.

But 24-year-old Dani Ryngic, a self-confessed texter (“mostly at stop lights”) brought up another irritant.

“What gets me is how everybody talks about how dangerous texting and driving is. And it is. Don’t get me wrong. And even talking on the phone, maybe,” she says. “But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked over and seen somebody’s little dog sitting in their lap while they’re driving. That’s insane! How can that be safe, driving with a dog sitting on you?”

There were other complaints; raise your hand if you know these people: The driver who makes a two-lane Bat-turn right in front of you; the drivers who stop at the entrance into the mall when there is no stop sign; the drivers (mostly on Interstate 69 and Coliseum Boulevard) who insist on driving in the left passing lane; the I-don’t-care-I’m-gonna-take-up-two-spaces parker.

Whether on duty or off, Galaviz says he sees his share of questionable driving decisions. Of course, it all depends on which car he may be driving.

If he’s in an Indiana State Police car fully decorated with light bar and decals, drivers are mostly on their best behavior. If he’s in an unmarked vehicle and blends in with the masses, well then, he sees aplenty.

“People tend to slow down,” he says when a marked police car is spotted. “If they’re pushing the buttons on their phone, they put their phone down real quick. People not wearing their seat belts, all of a sudden their seat belt starts creeping up their shoulder. They’re doing it discreetly, which is kinda funny because they think we can’t see that.”

What crimes and misdemeanors, from Galaviz’s perspective, are local drivers most guilty of?

“I think the most common thing you see is, especially in congested areas, tailgating,” Galaviz says. “Tailgating, and unsafe lane movement, or speeding.

“We may not always write a citation for something, but sometimes a warning or a good talking-to has the same effect. At the end of the day, traffic safety is the name of the game. We want to make sure everybody gets to and from as safely as they can. That’s why we’re out here doing what we do.”

But there was one individual contacted who isn’t bothered by others’ poor driving. His first name is Chris; he didn’t give his last. He’s a clerk at Foot Locker in Glenbrook Square.

“I have no pet peeve,” Chris says. “I’m an easy-going guy. I’ve been working in retail so long, nothing bothers me.”