Dear Utica Drivers: STOP IT! 9 Ways You Annoy Me [OPINION]
Road Rage is a real thing. Ever have it happen to you? To be senselessly stressed by something stupid someone else did during your commute that is mostly inconsequential to your ride, and will be completely forgotten once you arrive at your destination and step out of the car.
But, some of us can't help it. It's doesn't matter but we temporarily get all worked up about it. Here are 9 things that drive me nuts about Utica drivers.
1. Literally fighting the road crew trying to pave your road.
Last year in Utica, there was more than once instance of road paving crews being verbally accosted, and in one case almost physically assaulted, by motorists.
The reason: Uh, cause we had to slow down while they were working!
No joke. Several clowns shamelessly yelled at DPW workers for simply completing the act of road re-pavement. And, we're told one moron actually took a swing at their friendly, local DPW worker. Despite the fact that the annual chore ultimately makes travel safer, faster and easier (pothole elimination, smoother roads, etc), it's a deeply conflicting issue for some.
Local road construction crew makes offer: ''Slow down for 30 seconds today and the rest of this week, and I'll gladly repay you with several years (or at least months) worth of safer and more efficient travel along this road.''
Utica driver: ''No deal! Matter-of-fact, punk, I'm gonna kick your a$$!''
2. People who claim to have witnessed traffic in Utica
Not to be confused with Utica-area or Mohawk Valley traffic, it's ''Actual Traffic.'' The kind where hundreds, heck thousands of vehicles converge on a main roadway at damn near the same time as you. So much so, that all this congestion is backing things up and slowing you down.
Unfortunately, due to a spate of appropriate road planning and design by the DOT, coupled with various other factors like our aging population and the replacement of in-person manufacturing jobs in the world's new work-from-home economy, the definition of actual traffic took a wrong turn and got completely lost in Utica.
Utica doesn't actually have traffic. I know y'all pretend we do, but we don't.
Someone, name me the last time you were more than 5 minutes late someplace in Utica and it was legitimately because of the 'traffic' you encountered on your route. Not a weather related road closure or detour, or a public safety official redirecting you from a closed road because of a large fire or police investigation. Or a road paving project (see No. 1 above), I mean the last time so many vehicles converged in an area where you were also driving to that it caused a real delay and made you late??
Remember, I said: 'real delay.'
Ask someone who lives in an area with actual traffic if a 5 minute delay is even noticeable to them.
Then, remember to think twice before telling everyone you were running a little late cause you got caught up in 'traffic', cause WE DON'T BELIEVE YOU!.
3. What the heck kind of a sign was that?
It's called a speed limit and remember, there's more than one way to violate it. Our Utica-Rome Expressway (the part of Rt 49 connecting the 2 cities) has a posted speed limit of 65-mph. The only other place in our area with a posted limit that-high is the NYS Thruway. Otherwise, the highest you'll find is 55 mph. But, for many, it's not nearly fast enough. Law enforcement will routinely catch drivers blazin' 20-mph over that limit after they've sped past me.
Coming from a guy with an occasionally heavy-foot and one that has been ticketed too many times before, let me just say you absolutely deserve that citation and the points on your license that will come with it.
Ten to twelve mph over the limit - can see that. You were probably running late cause you'd been slowed by 'all that traffic in Utica'.
But 30-mph over the limit? Dude, you're gonna kill someone.
Now, we flip the coin. Less than a mile from one of the U-R Expressway interchanges is a 55mph road that connects Marcy to Whitesboro. It's called Mohawk Street and drivers who use this road most start each day with a plate of turtles for breakfast and then they wash it down with a glass of molasses.
If I had a dollar for every time I got stuck behind someone going under 25 mph on that road - again, where it is clearly posted 55mph - I'd be able to hire my own fleet of traffic enforcement officers to jog alongside these vehicles and hand their drivers a ticket.
4. No, I'm not putting my belt on.
Taking a break from our annoying CNY drivers, here's a word for more than a few passengers.
I know it's the law: Click it or ticket. I don't have a great reason to not wear it and I understand the law is well intentioned. But, I prefer not to wear one in a car, especially when I'm driving.
Another money making opportunity for me - but again, If I had a dollar for every time a passenger asked: "Ya gonna put-cher belt on?"
Look, at it relates to you, my passenger, it's my car - my rules. This argument doesn't fly with the 5-0, but you ain't a cop. Further, I believe the driver always has first dibs on music selection or which podcast we're gonna cruise with. I'll happy relinquish that privilege and let you control what's coming out of the the speakers if you'll stop saying: "You know, you should wear it. It is the law."
Thanks. I heard you the first time.
5. You leaving? No, just starting the car...
I've always been told if a car hasn't been started in a few weeks, or even a few days, you should at least turn it on a let the engine run a few minutes. Bad for the engine to just sit for too long, right?
But some have taken this to a level that must be a disguised effort to brag that they have an auto-starter and I don't.
Me, after watching someone walk to the window and hit the button that auto-starts their car: "Oh, you heading out?"
Them: "No, just starting the car."
Me: ''So, you're about to head out?"
Them: "No, just wanted to warm up the car."
Me: "But, you're not like, planning to get in it, and leave in a few minutes?"
Go ahead, I dare you to offer a sensible explanation.
6. Can I just give you a ride please? It'll save all of us time!
These people who think their road bikes are licensed vehicles and they're entitled to the whole lane.
To be clear, when I say ''the whole lane'' I'm not talking about:
- the shoulder,
- the skinny little lane with the white stripe often called THE BIKE LANE!
- approximately one-quarter to one-third of my lane.
I'm talking about I'm stuck behind a road bike, with foot pedals, going 12-mph, cause this guy is legit right in the middle of the vehicle lane.
Look, I'm all for exercise, or protecting the environment, or whatever - you do you. But, some people have much less patience than I and my advice is: If you'd like to live long enough to have grandkids, just slide over a bit.
7. Another Utica Classic - Faux courtesy.
The ones who break quickly and unexpectedly so they can allow another driver 'in' for absolutely no reason. Well, actually there is a reason.
This person has the right of way, is not required to yield or stop for this 'other' driver, and in some cases, the driver they're being courteous to isn't even making an effort to 'get-in'.
But, Sammy Sudden Stop thinks the girl waiting looks cute, so he boldly breaks and waves her in front of him. Meanwhile, Mr. Nice Guy is such a 'nice guy' he flips me the bird cause I beeped.
Only in Utica - If you can't get her number, go for the license plate.
8. You're a great driver in the snow, unless.....
Most of us are experienced in crappy weather and do very well navigating Central New York's snowy, slippery roads. We use caution, we leave early, we don't go too fast.
Unless, it's the first snow of the season. Then, all bets are off - stay home or call in sick. You do not want to be on the roads for a first snowfall in Utica. Everyone panics, no one has patience, and most people just generally forget how to drive.
9. Thou Shall Go Right on Red
I saved the most annoying for last.
Sometimes the traffic flow doesn't allow you to turn right on red. You might have a couple oncoming cars, not enough room, not enough time. You do the responsible thing, you don't turn.
But, sometimes you're at a red light and there's one car in front of you. You're both in the far right hand lane on a particular road. The traffic light does not say right on red is prohibited.
Now, the driver has their right hand turn signal on. There is no cross traffic that would prevent them from turning right on red. But they just sit there, blinker flashing, not turning.
As I debate myself - do I lay on the horn, or should I just be patient? Then the light turns green. They slowly creep toward the intersection, looking down a still empty crossroad to ensure that potential traffic - which, mind you, is now faced with a red light - is not coming. Then they slowly make the turn.
I know, you're nodding your head because it infuriates you too!