Drive Me Crazy: Biggest Pet Peeves on the Road

Frustrated driver man after hit and run

Pet peeves: everyone has one (or 10) — that thing that makes us absolutely wild every time. These incredibly annoying behaviors and actions committed by others are even more pronounced when we’re driving. Though it becomes habitual, it’s important to remember that driving can be an incredibly dangerous task, one which requires our full attention. It’s therefore no surprise that folks have lots of strong feelings about what disrupts, antagonizes, or enrages them on the road.

We polled drivers across the country and asked them to tell us their driving pet peeves — what really grinds their gears, so to speak. Many responses reinforced the classics— failure to use turn signals, drivers cutting you off, driving slowly in the passing lane—but we found many responses unique, funny, and relatable, all with a healthy dose of second-hand annoyance. The best of the bunch, below.

Waiting until the last second to exit during rush hour is the auto equivalent of cutting in line.

Flouting Safety

Sue diRosario commutes about 100 miles each day in rural Maine. A compact car driver, diRosario says her biggest frustration comes from tailgaters – particularly those in large vehicles. Lest we think diRosario is a “pokey driver,” she tells us she drives at or five miles above the speed limit, and she pulls over to let others pass whenever it’s safe.

Ryan Kartzke of San Diego tells us he can’t stand drivers who wait until the last 10 feet of a freeway off-ramp to make the exit. “When it’s rush hour and traffic is backed up, this is the automotive equivalent to cutting in line,” he says.

William Lau of New York City says drivers using their high beams in the face of oncoming traffic are his biggest roadway annoyance. “Flashing your high beams can blind other drivers and potentially put other drivers and pedestrians at risk.” Remember high beams are also dangerous in heavy fog and rain as the bright light can reflect on the water and cause blinding glare to the driver.


Traffic Law Ignorance

Brad Hines of the Boston area tells us drivers who don’t understand four-way stops really bother him. Hines says often he’ll approach a four-way intersection at a reasonable clip when, out of nowhere, a speed-demon will race up and enter the intersection first, incorrectly assuming the faster driver has the right-of-way. Drivers take note: whomever arrives at a four-way stop first has the right of way (as long as no pedestrians are present), and in the case of a “tie,” the advantage goes to whomever is on the right.

Joanna Reid from Nashville says it drives her crazy when she’s behind someone at a stoplight in the right lane who is going straight rather than turning right. We’re sure folks in states where it’s legal to turn right on red sympathize with having to wait!

Erica Asmus-Otero adds her woes about the impact of traffic cops: “[I hate] when people slam on their brakes if they see a cop and then drive way below the speed limit. Come on, folks, it’s not illegal to drive!”

Kid in backseat of car looking forward

On- and Off-Road Communications

David Bakke from Atlanta shares a wish for manners: “People who do not give you a polite ‘wave’ when you allow them into traffic or let them make a left turn in front of you,” bother him the most. “When I was younger,” Bakke adds, “this practice was pretty much standard, but I rarely see it anymore. To me, that is the height of rudeness.”

Maria Baranova from San Francisco says her biggest driving pet peeve is any type of voice-guided GPS. Baranova says it doesn’t matter who the voice belongs to; she always mutes it, preferring to just look at the directions or ask a passenger to be her guide.

Ron Schmedly loves his family, though they can really frustrate him in the car. Schemdly tells us his kids love to play siren sounds from YouTube while he’s driving–and he always falls for it, looking in the rearview, thinking he’s being pulled over.

Steve Silberburg, from the Boston area, says, “My biggest pet peeve is any radio commercial that plays a car horn. These commercials should be banned. They scare me every time.”

Driver texting at the wheel

The Zebra Team Shares Their Pet Peeves

The folks at The Zebra love cars and driving — in fact, we pretty much talk about this stuff all day, err day. But hey, some stuff DRIVES us nuts, too. (Puns always intended.)

Kim D: “I hate when people are in a hurry to pull out in front of you (from another street, a parking lot, etc.) and then drive so slowly. It also bugs me when pedestrians in crosswalks don’t pick up the pace when they see a car is trying to turn or when drivers blare their music so all you can hear outside the car is rattling speakers.”

Josh W: “People who are on their phones (texting or taking selfies or otherwise distracted driving, drivers who tap their brakes too often, and drivers who are aggressive around cyclists — I don’t even ride a bike and I get angry for them!”

Sean H: “My pet peeves are when people wait until the very last second to merge (and slam on their brakes or come to a complete stop, blocking all traffic because they need to exit) and when people wave at me in an intersection when it’s clearly their turn to go. It’s even worse when they wave me on and then they move too.”

Alyssa C: “There’s something I’ve named the “Texas Trap” — it’s when multiple drivers cruise 10 mph under the speed limit next to each other, thus blocking all lanes of a highway so there’s no way to pass them. Drives me crazy!

Did we miss your driving pet peeves? Share in the comments!

  • Robert Beckman

    Four-way stop nuances: Everything said above is correct, but add:
    1) If two cars facing each other going opposite directions approach the intersection at the same time, the car going straight or making a right has the right of way. The car making a left has to wait.
    2) Otherwise, when cars arrive at the same time, the car on the right has the right of way.