MILEPOSTS Garage - The Online Classic Car Magazine Accident scene - mid-1960's
Everything from Hood Ornaments to Tail Lamps
Return to Index

Vol. 3, No. 1
January 25, 2005

Tulsa Drivers: Rude Is the Word!
by Andrew Angove

Image: MILEPOSTS Garage

Know a good car accident attorney? If you drive a car these days, chances are you're going to need one sooner or later! I don't know what it is with drivers these days, but they seem to be getting worse and worse! Every time you turn around, someone is breaking the law on the streets we all must drive on. Whatever happened to common courtesy? Whatever happened to respect for other drivers? Whatever happened to defensive driving? It seems when people get behind the wheel of a vehicle, their courtesy and common sense are left outside. Or, could it be that people today are just too stupid to drive? Do they not have the brain function necessary to breathe and operate a motor vehicle at the same time?

Those of us with classic cars have an emotional attachment to them that other drivers just don't seem to have. We know how many hours of hard labor we've put into them to make them as good as they can be. We understand the difficulties and expense of locating parts for our cars. A little fender bender to the owner of the new pick-up truck means a little inconvenience while the truck is being repaired, but for a classic car owner, it could mean weeks or months locating that rare and elusive part that got smashed up, and quite often the replacement isn't as nice as the one that was ruined.

Insurance companies know that classic car drivers use more caution and better driving habits when they're behind the wheel of their classic. That's why most classic cars get better insurance rates. The risk is so much lower because the cars aren't driven that much, they're normally stored indoors, and in most cases aren't subjected to being out on the streets at bad times, like rush hour.

Fortunately, you can almost always tell when there's going to be trouble, just by who is driving the other vehicle, and what type of vehicle it is. At least in Tulsa, Oklahoma you can. Yes, you can call this profiling if you wish, but more often than not it is true. You have the tired, frazzled soccer moms in their mini-vans or SUVs that are too big for them to handle. Often, they have a cell phone up to one ear, which means they only have one hand available to operate the radio, air conditioning, turn signals, and anything else one might have to do while driving. Turn signals in particular seem to be of minor importance, as they are rarely used. What I find amazing is that quite often, you see these moms backing out of their driveways already talking on the cell phone! Couldn't that call have been made from the comfort of home, instead of becoming a dangerous distraction while driving? I personally look forward to the day when it is illegal in all 50 states to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle on a public street. Pull over and make your call, then go about the business of driving.

Next on the list of shame are the self-employed guys in pickup trucks, often with so many wheels on the back axle you can't count them, and they can't stay in their own lanes because their truck is too wide! Everyone else is expected to make room for them, of course, because they are in such a large vehicle. They often have "Commercial Vehicle" decals on the back bumper or tailgate, to inform all that they use their truck for work purposes. These trucks often have the name of a company painted on the door, usually a remodeling, construction, landscape, or some such company that requires the use of a truck. Quite often, these dudes are on cell phones as well, which means, like the dumb head soccer moms, they also don't signal when turning.

These guys are the aggressive ones, they will perform stunts Evel Knevel would shudder at just to get in front of you, and of course there isn't a car behind for blocks. They just want to be in front. That one car length makes all the difference to them. I especially love it when I have the right of way, and they act like THEY do!

Here in Tulsa, we have these wonderful, wide intersections to handle traffic. Some of them are 8 lanes wide. The problem is, they turn into 2 lane country roads once you get through the intersection. Our wonderful city engineers think this is a brilliant design, because it is repeated all over town. And they would be WRONG.

The way it works is, the right lanes end and are supposed to merge to the left lane, which is the one with the right of way. In rush hour, it's pretty comical to see 4 lanes merge into one in the distance of a hundred feet or so. At one location in South Tulsa, the reduction in lanes takes place on a hill, where there's also a curve in the road, so all that is between the road and the roof of the retirement center sitting next to the road below the hill is a little metal guard rail. The speed limit in this location is 45, but some people act like they're driving a missile, and they shoot across the intersection and up the hill like they are going into outer space! I wonder how long it will be before that retirement home has a truck stuck in its roof!

But there they go, these "Commercial Vehicle" dolts bouncing along in their noisy trucks, cowboy hat on head, cigarette dangling out of their mouths. Bounce, bounce, bounce. I suppose all that bouncing is really what's done these guys in, their little brain has been rattled around too much in their heads, so it just doesn't work properly anymore. When the lanes are all merging into one, you can always depend on one of these A-holes to just cut in front of you. No turn signal. No checking the mirrors to see if another car is there. They just go where they need to go, and everyone else had just better look out for them, because they are way too busy, or way too stupid, to be respectful of other drivers! Usually they're talking on their cell phone. Probably they're in a hurry to meet someone to give them an estimate for their services. Well you know what? That person you just cut off might be the one you're going to meet! Suppose you'll get that job? Fat chance!

What they are forgetting is that they are pulling these stunts in front of potential customers. Oh yeah, I'm going to call a remodeler who cut me off in traffic to come and work in my home. You bet. If they have that little respect for me in traffic, what are the chances they'll wipe their feet before tromping all over my brand new white Berber carpeting?

Now comes the most annoying of them all. The little kiddies in their strange-looking foreign cars. Rice burners, I think they're "affectionately" called by those who detest them, which is just about everyone except for the kiddies. You know the ones, they have tall wings on the rear deck, bright stripes all over, funny looking wheels and tires, really big, really loud mufflers that create an incredibly annoying noise, so loud that the overworked little 4-cylinder engine under the hood can really scream in pain, always running at the redline, it seems. Their sound systems are blasting so loud the kid won't be able to hear without hearing aids at the age of 24, and blue turn signal bulbs behind those tacky clear lenses. Doesn't that make you want to run right out and buy one? Yuck!

I often wonder what their parents think when their little punk goes out and fires up that pile in the driveway. You can hear the thing for blocks, but the neighbors don't mind. Really. They don't. They just roll their eyes, and pray for the day when the brat leaves home for good, and takes that pile of junk with them.

In most states, it is law that front turn indicators be clear or amber, and rear brake lights be red with a red or amber turn signal. No blue lights, and no clear brake lights! And parents, here's a word of advice for you: no one thinks your kid is cute when they come home at 11:30 on a Friday or Saturday night, and you can hear the screaming exhaust on their car, or the boom - boom - boom from their stereo in your house! You know it's happening, don't deny it! Put a stop to it!

And here's another word for parents regarding the little foreign shoot boxes their kids drive: how well do you suppose those things are going to hold up in an accident? Pretty much everything else on the road is bigger. And you know your kid is going to act like he's a race car driver on the road. Who loses in a collision? The kiddie in the car with fenders as thick as a Dr. Pepper can, or the jerk in the pick-up truck that thinks he has the right of way, all the time, no matter what?

The profiles above are the ones the rest of us have to watch out for. In addition to being inattentive when driving, talking on the phone, not signalling, cutting you off, being reckless, rude, ignorant, and vibrating the windows in the car next to them, these folks can also be depended on to run red lights, run stop signs, speed, throw trash out the window, park crooked so that they take up two parking spaces instead of one, and pretty much exhibit every other nasty habit a person can perform behind the wheel of an automobile.

They will tailgate you because even though you're going the speed limit, it's not fast enough for them. Well you know what? Going faster than the speed limit isn't an option! It's the law! Perhaps leaving a bit earlier would be the more responsible, mature thing to do.

Final honors go to the older folks. They are easy to spot because they're driving a Buick. They aren't intentionally aggressive drivers, nor are they speed demons or smart alecs. They generally obey most of the laws, but they sometimes forget to get their car out of the way. You know the type, they make a right turn and stop with the back end of their car still out in the road. The thought never crossed their mind that they might actually be creating a problem for the people behind them. Some of them are absolutely terrified to be behind the wheel out in traffic. You can see it in their faces. Because of this, they hesitate and wait...sometimes too long. Then the opportunity for them to move has passed, and they must wait some more. So must the drivers in line behind them.

Of all the drivers to be wary of, the older folks are normally of the least concern. They are also assaulted on the road by the other types of drivers mentioned above, so they too must keep an eye open for the soccer mom SUVs, the dolts in the pick-ups, and the kiddies in their kiddie cars.

I realize this article is titled Tulsa Drivers, and it's so titled because I, unfortunately, have to drive on the same Tulsa roads as the idiots I've described here. Very likely, many people in different parts of the country will say all these things also apply to their locale. Except perhaps for the people in Minneapolis. A friend had the opportunity to drive in Minneapolis a few months back, and commented that the drivers there are among the most courteous, thoughtful, and safe that they'd seen in a long time. Of course, this person normally drives in Tulsa, so anyone who obeys traffic laws and has respect for other drivers will come across as a super driver, who excels in operating a motor vehicle. For those of you in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, if you think drivers there are bad, you don't know how good you've got it.

One might think being in the heart of the Bible belt, Tulsans would be more respectful of others, courteous, and kind when driving. Not so. Just drive down Lewis Avenue in Tulsa when Oral Roberts University students are leaving campus, or when Victory Christian Center patrons leave church on Sundays. It seems like the Biblical saying is, "do unto others before they can do unto you!" They speed. They run red lights. They cut others off in traffic. And in general, they act like a bunch of jerks. I guess whatever the message is that's being preached in those places these days isn't getting through to the followers, based on their behavior leaving the place.

The question still remains: are they just rude, or are they really too stupid to be driving? Who knows, it doesn't really matter much in the long run why they act this way. The fact is, they DO act this way. And they have accidents. And they make the rest of us pay higher insurance rates because of their poor driving habits.

So what does all this really have to do with classic cars? Those of us who drive them have to operate them on the same roads with these morons, who generally have no respect for other people, let alone their cars, classic or otherwise. These classic cars in some cases are worth more than the new SUV or truck they're driving. No matter how careful the classic car driver is, we still have to operate our cars on the same roads as these other drivers. You can be certain they won't hesitate to run into you if given the chance. Unless, of course, they're staring at your classic car and run into a tree, instead.

Another mini-van, truck, or SUV off the road...permanently.

One can only hope!

Copyright © 2005 Automotive Mileposts, Inc.
If you have advice, tips, technical ability, or just know a secret or two about old cars, and you'd like to contribute, click here and tell us about it. We'll help you write it, and give you the credit for it! It's the perfect way to help out your fellow enthusiasts in the old car hobby.
Mileposts Garage Index | Automotive Mileposts

Recent Updates | Main Contents | AUTOPOSTS Forum

Vintage Car Care | Parts | Books | Magazines