Case #1: Sunnyvale, turning from Maude onto Mathilda
I ended up behind this tan Toyota Camry (do they make them in any other color?). As we completed the turn, it began to accelerate normally, but abruptly levelled off at exactly 35 MPH. (The speed limit was 45.) I got stuck behind it, and we went toodling all the way up to CA-237 E with traffic passing on either side at 45-50. As we got on the freeway, I passed and glanced over. It was a little old lady driving, her husband in the passenger seat.
She was obviously unaware of the danger she presented to herself and those around her by moving more slowly than traffic. Being cautious is always good, but aside from impeding the flow of traffic, moving very slowly or quickly compared to surrounding traffic makes it more dangerous to merge, particularly in emergencies.
Case #2: I-680 N, just north of Fremont
A mid-90s Ford Escort wagon merged into the left lane in front of me. There was plenty of space for her to merge, however, she did not speed up to match traffic (i.e. me). The reason for this became apparent when I got close enough to look through her back window -- she looked like the stereotypical mid-50s housewife with blonde hair and glasses... and she was doing everything under the sun except driving. She was:
- Putting on makeup
- Looking over and talking animatedly to someone (probably a child) in the passenger seat
- Fiddling around in her purse
- Playing with her phone
- Visually inspecting the surface of her water bottle
- ...the list goes on.
Needless to say, she was holding neither a straight line, nor a constant speed (although it was at least fairly close to the surrounding traffic), and was holding up traffic (me) in the left lane. Fortunately, after a couple miles, she realized she was holding up traffic and moved over.
Case #3: I-680 N, near home
I was in the next-rightmost lane, moving quite a bit faster than the traffic in the rightmost lane. (I was, perhaps, too much faster a la case #1, but slowing down.) A forest-green Subaru Outback was in the rightmost lane, sandwiched between two other cars. Just as I'm about to begin overtaking her, she flips on her blinker, lets it blink exactly once, then shoots into the lane.
I dodge around her, accelerating to get past her quickly, and give her the horn. (Past experience has taught me it's better to be in front of crazy/stupid people than behind them, unless they're going really fast.) She accelerates, seemingly trying to keep pace with me, which of course she can't do as I'm driving Shiro. As I slide back into the lane in front of her (signalling properly), I catch a glimpse of a younger woman, phone glued to her right ear, mouth open in mid-sentence.
I move into the right lane, preparing to exit, and she slips in behind, both of us moving faster than we should be. I have to resist the urge to break-check her--I'm trying to avoid safety issues, not create more of them--as I enter the offramp.
I can't but shake my head. Stupid people. And it's so easy to become one, too.