The Driver Classification Project – Revisited

Tam’s post about drivers that annoy her got me thinking about the Driver Classification Project I did back around the turn of the century.  I had initially posted the DCP up on, and had long ago deleted any copy I had of it in one of my random revamps of the site.

So what’s an Internet-savvy dude to do in a situation like this?  Why, call upon the example of Mr. Peabody and visit the Wayback Machine, of course!  I looked through a few years of, and am able to now present (err, re-present) my Driver Classification Project!

These classifications are from my observations of traffic over a decade of motorcycle commuting in the San Francisco Bay Area.  What she calls Mr. Wobbly Throttle I termed the Pacer.

Type: Agoraphobic
Date added: 5/20/01
Characteristics: Agoraphobics fear wide-open spaces, and will put effort into never being alone in a lane. Less mindless than a pacer, Agor’s are aware of traffic around them, and put a disturbing amount of effort into making sure they never have a space cushion around their cage. Also known as the Japanese Housing Syndrome (JHS).
Fatality rate: Medium to High
Variants: Claustrophobe
Type: Cagers
Date added: 5/20/01
Characteristics: Cagers are people who drive around in cages: vehicles having 4 wheels or more, and 2 or more doors.

Cages keep their occupants trapped in commute or city traffic, and give their prisoners a bad attitude, partial blindness, idiocy, and a sense of invulnerability or immortality.

Cagers feel safe and isolated in their cages, and often treat nearby vehicles with less than optimal concern.

Fatality rate: Overall, low, which is surprising, all things considered.
Variants: All types, see the Driver Classification Project
Type: Claustrophobic
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Claustrophobes are the opposite of Agor’s – they can’t stand having any traffic around them. You will frequently find a Claustro alone in a lane, 100 meters behind the next clump of Pylons, pressing his brakes every few seconds so as to avoid approaching too close to other cagers.

Claustro’s don’t care if the closest traffic is in front or to the side, if anyone on the road slows down, the Claustro immediately slows down to compensate.

Claustro’s seem to be allergic to intersections, which is why they will spend hours approaching a red light where there are already other vehicles stopped. These could be a subspecies of Claustrophobes.

Fatality rate: Low
Variants: Slip ‘n’ Slide, Agoraphobic
Type: Guillotine
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Guillotines are a deadly, renegade variant of the otherwise harmless pylon. Although they drive the same roads every day, guillotines will wait until the last possible moment to drive straight across all lanes of traffic to their off ramp, near-missing their fellow pylons and the off-ramp crash barricades.
Fatality rate: High, and violent.
Variants: Pylon, Slip ‘n’ Slide
Type: Nascar
Date added: 5/20/2001
Characteristics: These are the guys that will drive as fast as they can go all the time. They will drive up as close as they can to your bumper and then when possible pass… then cut you off. Then they will speed along until they find another victim.

They will usually drive 1970s Camaros and Firebirds or pickup trucks. They can be easily identified by some variety of  NASCAR sticker on the rear window.

Aggressiveness / Fatality rate Medium
Type: Pacers
Date added: 5/20/01
Characteristics: Pacers come in two varieties – alongside and rearward pacers. Pacers are drivers who cannot consciously drive at their own speed or itinerary – they always follow a driver either in front of them or to the side of them.

I’ve seen rearward pacers stick behind someone, exactly matching the leader’s speed and lane position, follow them onto the road shoulder and into a turn lane, before the realizing that he (the pacer) didn’t want to turn or exit there, and hastily return to the road to find someone else to pace.

Occasionally, when driving, I’ll pick up an alongside pacer, and I’ll experiment: I’ll speed up and slow down, and the pacer will exactly match my speed.

Alongside pacers get themselves killed by pacing big rigs and getting run over or contributing to multi-vehicle accidents.

Fatality rate: High
Type: Pylons
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: When a group of pacers get together on the freeway following a slug, they collectively become Pylons; so called because any faster traffic must weave through them like pylons on an obstacle course.
Fatality rate: Collectively, low, except in areas of dense fog or black ice
Variants: Pacer, Wall
Type: Punk Kid
Date added: May 31, 2001
Carrier vehicle: 60’s Camaros and Mustangs
Characteristics: The punk kid is a 16 – 18 year old male with a fast musclecar and an attitude. These are the ones who boost the insurance rate for every other 16 – 18 year old male.

Can be seen racing for pinks against other punk kids, cruising the strip, and smoking pot.

Beware the Mullet stricken* punk kids – their aggressiveness is unusually high.

* While is long gone, the Wayback Machine still has it cached!

Fatality rate: Medium – although their cars are fast, they usually don’t handle well, and crash out on Dead Man’s Curve
Variants: Nascar, Rice Boy
Type: Rice Boy
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Most frequently, Rice Boys are youthful males putting on the appearance of high-performance speed. They drive all manner of Japanese imports, to which they affix all manner of stickers, nameplates, “Powered by” labels, false sponsor credits, large exhaust tips, oversides wheels, and all manner of glue-on bodywork. None of this makes the car faster, (quite often the reverse is true), but they give the car the illusion of being faster and handling better, which is what matters to a Rice Boy.

A true child of the Clinton presidency, Rice Boys can do no wrong, and if you have a problem with them, it’s your problem, not theirs. Illusion is everything, and speed depends on what your definition of “fast” is. Fact and reality dissappear beneath 3 foot high tail wings on front wheel drive cars, and “Powered by Acura” stickers on Honda Civics.

The fallacy of the Rice Boy lifestyle has been illustrated at Rice Boy Page, and My Coffee Can.
Here’s two photos of a beautifully modified CRX, with aftermarket single exhaust: 
And then dual exaust: 
courtesy of Gary Milgrom. Thanks for sending the photos!

Fatality rate: Low, because their cars aren’t actually fast, and don’t handle well.
Variants: Punk Kid
Type: Roadblock
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Perhaps the most annoying type of cager, Roadblocks exist for the sole purpose of being in front of you and being in the way. Roadblocks somehow anticipate your every move, waiting until you make your move, then duplicating it.

If you make a lane change, they will change lanes in front of you.

If you turn left, they will get in the turn lane in front of you after you get there, then take the same turn.

When you approach a stop sign at 2 AM in the middle of nowhere, a roadblock will come rolling along at exactly the right time to hold you up an uncomfortable amount.

Fatality rate: Low, until their last straw breaks the back of someone’s camel
Type: Slip ‘n’ Slide
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Commuter type: They drive along, close behind another cage in commute traffic. When traffic suddenly slows, the Slip ‘n’ Slide will lightly press the brakes and veer hard off the side of the road, like a kid on a Slip-N-Slide.

It’s not that they can’t stop in time, it’s that they’d rather risk slamming into the center divider or a roadside hazard than apply full brake.

Fatality rate: Medium to High, depending on the presence of air bags in the vehicle.
Variants: Tumbleweed
Type: Slug
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Typically encased in mini-vans, SUV’s, or sedans, you’ll most frequently identify this type at intersections. You’ll be approaching the intersection, the slug will be to the right on the cross-street, about to make a right-hand turn into your path. The slug will come to a complete stop at his red light, see you coming, evaluate your approach speed, gather up all his wit and courage, and wait. When you’re plenty close, he will suddenly decide he can make it after all, turn right in front of you, and refrain from accelerating much. You’ll then have to make a lane change to get around him — but check your blind spot for pacers.

Particularly annoying when the Slug is a mini-van, Mercedes turbodiesel, or when the Slug leads a pack of Pylons.

Fatality rate: High rate of collisions and head trauma
Type: Tagalongs
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Tagalongs are a type of Pacer who specialize in tailgating. They have no apparent desire to go fast or slow, but only to stay right behind their tag.

Particularly annoying when the Tagalong is a raised pickup with surplus lights, or a rice boy.

Fatality rate: Medium, depending on the quality of the cage’s brakes.
Variants: Pacer, Slip-n-slide, Tumbleweed
Type: Tumbleweed
Date added: July 17, 2001
Carrier vehicle: Typically minivan, could be anything
Characteristics: The tumbleweed doesn’t seem to have any idea whatsoever where he/she is going, or which road will take him/her there. They just kind of meander about the road, lane changing here, signaling there, sometimes turning, sometimes not, sometimes building velocity, only to loose it in a furiously confused bluster of activity.

I recently got stuck behind a tumbleweed on a straight, two lane road. We approached an intersection on the right, and the tumbleweed’s right turn blinker came on. We drove through the intersection with his blinker on. After the intersection, his left-turn blinker came on, although there was no road to the left. We drove for a bit, he tapped the brakes a few times, then turned his blinker off.

We approached another intersection on the right, and his right-turn blinker came on again. He feinted right, but continued straight, and we drove through another intersection.

Finally, he turned his blinker off, and pulled over to the curb on the opposite side of the street. I passed him slowly, in case he decided to make a U-turn.

Ignorance is bliss unless you’re confused as hell, as Tumbleweeds are.

Fatality rate: Low – they never get going fast enough for a serious impact.
Variants: Slip-n-slide, Tagalong
Type: Wall
Date added: 5/30/2001
Characteristics: Three or more pacers, driving door to door, one in each lane of a highway, blocking every possibility of getting past, through, or around them, become a wall.

It is unknown whether this is done intentionally or idiotically.

Fatality rate: Collectively, low, except in areas of dense fog or black ice
Variants: Pacer, Guillotine, Slip ‘n’ Slide

One thought on “The Driver Classification Project – Revisited

  1. I remember this one! So which one am I? I know you have me labeled and which one do you consider yourself?

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