Assholes at the Wheel...

Not ten minutes go by in my daily commute in New York City where some shit-head doesn't manage to be rude, obnoxious, abusive, overly aggressive or dangerously inattentive.  Driving in this city has turned from a mere challenge into a garish video game with real and deadly consequences.  The following is a diary of just some of the encounters with people who close their car door and turn from mild- mannered Clark Kent into SuperAsshole, Emperor Anus.  And there will be no pulling punches here.  Vehicle makes and models and license plates will be mentioned and drivers and passengers described whenever possible.  If you can afford to be an asshole, you can afford to have your identity plastered on the Internet for all to see.   Click on the camera icon to see pictures when available.

RATINGS KEY:

asshole Asshole wannabe - still in diapers
assholeasshole Asshole in training - learning to pucker
assholeassholeasshole Asshole graduate - vicious young pucker
assholeassholeassholeasshole King of Assholes - treacherous old pucker
assholeassholeassholeassholeasshole SuperAsshole!!! - tightest sphincter of them all

SPECIAL DESIGNATIONS:

asshole2 Special "Maximum Pucker" award for gross negligence at the wheel
asshole3 Special "Weeping Hemorrhoid" award for blatant disregard for the law
asshole4 Special "Crunchy Dingleberry" award for remarkably shameless foolishness
asshole5 Special "Distended Sphincter" award for specifically offensive behaviour

THE DIARY
in reverse chronological order

Rating Incident Award
assholeassholeasshole
June 7, 2008
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Has it REALLY been three years since I updated this page?  It wasn't for a lack of assholes, for sure, but I've been distracted, as usual.  Today however I return to you with something special.  On my motorcycle approaching a side-street intersection in Rego Park with 4-way stop signs, I stop to let the car that got there first proceed.  Assuming that the car behind that one would stop like he's supposed to and allow me through, I start to go ahead, except that second car - a Chevy Impala bearing NY registration AMD-1823 - races through the stop sign practically glued to the rear bumper of the first car, requiring me to stop short.  Then he tailgates the first car all the way down the block, honking his horn repeatedly, steering erratically and generally acting like a poster-boy for aggressive driving.  Justifiably peeved, I pull along side him at a red light (lots of good all that tailgating and honking did) and ask "Excuse me sir, why did you run through the stop sign?".  He responds belligerently "Was I talkin' to you?!"  We go back and forth like this a few more times and finally he responds defiantly as the light turns green, "Because I can!", and he drives off.  Yes, I know, I know, you're saying this is just a typical New Yorker.  But wait, here's the really special part...

This clown has an FDNY (UFA) permit # 5646 in his windshield with another placard featuring the logos of NYC Engine 8 Ladder 2, Battalion 8.  That's right - the New York City Fire Department - he's one of New York City's Bravest!  Here is a man whose job in public safety is to SAVE lives, and he's driving his personal vehicle like a maniac and ENDANGERING lives instead.  Nice work, ASSHOLE.  Oh, and five parking summonses in a month?  Get a grip.  Did you really think Traffic Enforcement cares about all the cards or the NJSP sticker in your windshield?  Do you really think they entitle you to abuse the rights of everyone around you just because you're in a hurry or because you're aggravated over the parking ticket you got six hours ago?  And do you really think "professional courtesy" will help anyone when your driving gets someone hurt?  You sir, for your unmitigated arrogance and for your assumption of authority that you do not in fact possess, are a disgrace to your uniform.

asshole3
asshole3
assholeassholeassholeasshole
January 18, 2005
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Happy New Year!  Today the driver of a Cadillac with NY registration CYM-1320 earns not one but TWO distended sphincters and bunch of puckers.  In the predictable stop'n'go of Queens' "Boulevard of Death" westbound service lane, this rude fool just couldn't stand the thought of letting me get in front of him at a lane merge, where everyone else was happily and courteously alternating access.  Naturally I stayed my ground, but he wasn't happy until regaining his "rightful" place in front of me, cutting off yet another motorist in the process.  Then he stopped in front of me, got out of his car and approached me, and informed me that "[I] could get hurt" by taking pictures of assholes like himself.  Thanks for the advice, buddy!  How often do you beat your wife?  That's a pretty frightened look on her face in the first picture... asshole5
asshole5


June 11, 2004
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It's not like the year has lacked road-bound assholes, I've just been distracted.  But this obnoxious bitch from New Jersey in a Mercedes heading southbound on the Palisades Parkway must have been in some hurry, tailgating me with about five feet to spare at speeds that were already more than sufficiently super-legal.  The most interesting part of this is that she's been performing this stunt for at least two miles, and yapping on her cell phone the entire time.  Tailgaters are a dime a dozen, but I grant this one an extra sphincter for flaunting New York State's handheld cell phone laws while simultaneously violating at least three other parts of the NYSVTL. asshole2

June 27, 2003
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I just don't learn.  I foolishly used my signal for a lane change and sure enough, some twit in a Jeep (NY registration V48-9PH) tried gassing it to close the gap.  Naturally I maintained my ground and this got him quite excited (see the first two photos).  I'm not sure how much time he thought he would save by cutting me off, given the whopping 45 minute delay crossing the Queensboro Bridge, but the moron was fighting for position in the slow lane.  He figured this out after a few minutes, changed lanes three more times, also getting out of his Jeep briefly to menace me and threaten me over the photographs (second two photos), and he actually managed to save himself about forty-five seconds by the time we reached the bridge exit.  By the way, notice that NYPD sticker in his windshield.  Either he's yet another NYC cop who's gotten way too full of himself, or has gotten too full of himself because he happens to know a cop.  What a shame to disgrace the shield like that.  Congrats either way, he gets a crunchy dingleberry for fighting over a lane he didn't even belong in. asshole4

May 22, 2003
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Has it REALLY been three years since I updated this page?!  Oh well, I'm breaking in a new Canon EOS 10D digicam on today's asshole, who was driving a Ford F350 pickup belonging to the NYC Police Department's "Special Projects" division (registration 3150).  He pulled up behind us at 10am while my wife was driving, and started blipping his siren impatiently while we were stopped at a traffic light, nowhere to go.  After this shameless intimidation and abuse of power, as well as outright defiance of NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law, local ordinances and EPA noise pollution regulations, the light turned green and we pulled aside to let this little piggie go by.  As you can see by the pictures, this particular asshole was in a great hurry to attend an emergency chat with his buddies who were taking a break from the life-saving task of erecting a police booth, while casually leaving his truck blocking one of the busiest crosswalks in Queens.  For his sadly unsurprising abuse of authority, this asshole earns five puckers and is awarded a weeping 'roid.
assholeassholeasshole
March 29, 2000
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The pensive look on this asshole's face doesn't seem to overshadow his stark reminder to me that in New York City, signalling a lane change is a sign of weakness.  This driver of a red GMC Sierra (NY reg QWH-299) quickly cut me off on West 36th Street and fought to prevent my lane change for at least 500'.  It wouldn't have cost this asshole a solitary second of course, since my next move would be a turn out of his way entirely.  But hey, that's why we call them ASSHOLES! asshole5
asshole
March 10, 2000
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Proving once again that New York City does not have exclusive rights to Assholes, this fellow from Massachussetts also reminds us why "dealer demo" cars aren't necessarily great bargains.  While darting from lane to lane, tailgating and flashing high-beams at everyone, jackrabbiting from light to light, this asshole couldn't even make good enough time to keep me from snapping a photo from in front of him after watching his reckless behavior for three miles of Queens Boulevard. asshole5
assholeassholeassholeassholeasshole
January 9, 2000
A remarkable FIVE puckers go to the bearded bastard behind the wheel of a red Isuzu Trooper (NY registration C39-8CT), who at 2:25pm in the dense Sunday traffic of the northbound Palisades Interstate Parkway, was in such a hurry that for five miles he tailgated a motorcyclist in front of him, leaving not even one car length between them for the entire distance.  Meanwhile, I need to congratulate the rider of the Harley for resisting the urge to put a bullet through this asshole's forehead. asshole2
assholeasshole
December 16, 1999
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The holiday traffic really brings out the best in people.  In today's case, this SUV driver both reinforces the stereotype of most SUV drivers' obnoxious disregard for fellow motorists, and reminds us that New Yorkers aren't the only assholes on the road.  In this case, the asshole couldn't stand to let me into the left lane for that left turn light ahead (while we had both been merging from opposite directions of the prior cross-street), and he nearly took off my side view mirror defending "his" lane.  Two assholes go to this Pennsylvianian putz, who could have and should have permitted an ordinary one-for-one merge of traffic.  In the end, his selfishness earned him no gain whatsoever. asshole5
asshole
December 13, 1999
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Proving that wearing a badge makes a person no less likely to be an asshole, this member of NYC's "elite" Highway Patrol couldn't be bothered to wait in traffic like everyone else at 9am, and merrily trundled along 34th street in midtown Manhattan, in the oncoming traffic lane!  Just remember that if your or I tried this stunt, he'd be kicking the shit out of us with his fag-bait jack boots.  For the brilliant example this officer set in front of daily commuters and holiday shoppers, I give the pilot of motorcycle #58 one pucker and a weeping 'roid.  Happy holidays! asshole3
assholeassholeasshole
October 6, 1999
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It took a long time to get my digital camera of choice and to keep it working for more than a week (long story), but I'm now inaugurating my fancy new Nikon Coolpix on this cool autumn morning with yet another Livery Asshole.  This Pakistani asshole cut me off twice on 34th street - once not bothering to look and the second time two blocks later looking but simply not caring.  Two blocks after that he made a right turn onto 10th Avenue from the far left lane of 34th, cutting off two trucks and a bus.  For this, I honor our Pakistani Putz with three Assholes and the Maximum Pucker award. asshole2
assholeassholeassholeassholeasshole
April 7 1999
While running lunchtime errands on my new motorcycle under the clear blue afternoon sky and light holiday traffic of the West Side Highway, an Afro-American male asshole in a light blue radio cab (NY registration T255368C) with a terrified Hispanic passenger decided that 2 feet was plenty of room between his front bumper and my rear wheel at 50MPH in the right lane.  Then frustrated after at least 500 feet of waiting for me to magically disappear from in front of him, he passed me by straddling my lane and the middle lane and cutting close in front of me, then speeding off.  For this I award yet another "distended sphincter award" and an incredible FIVE ASSHOLE rating!  I'd have taken a picture if I weren't so afraid of getting punted from behind.  FYI: The NYC Taxi & Limousine Commision has a web site, and you can file your complaints on-line!  What a country... asshole5
assholeasshole
February 24 1999
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The distinguished "distended sphincter" award goes to another medallion taxicab today (registration 2D92), for tailgating and repeatedly honking and flashing his high-beams at me for two blocks in bumper to bumper traffic at 7:19 pm approaching the 59th Street Bridge.  This asshole is the first sucker to be photographed by me, which brings me to an interesting aspect of photographs for Assholes At The Wheel.  The Camera is mightier than the sword!  After I stopped in traffic and got out of my car to snap this asshole's photograph, the cabbie suddenly wasn't in so much of a hurry any more.   He stayed back at least 150' and drove as sedate as my grandmother on a handful of Valium. asshole5
assholeasshole
February 9 1999
Today would have been the first properly done entry in this log if I had been better prepared.  But the camera wasn't handy and I was too busy with evasive actions when a medallion taxicab was over the double yellow lines and completely in the lane of oncoming traffic - my lane - doing 30mph on West 34th Street just east of 8th Avenue.  This yo-yo earns the Weeping Hemorrhoid award for his total disregard for the sanctity of the most important of all lane markings. asshole3

General Complaints and
Practical Solutions in Everyday Driving

Signalling...

Your turn signal is supposed to be a caution to nearby motorists of your intention to change lanes.  In practice, it is a signal for the motorist behind you in the adjacent lane to stomp on the accelerator and block your lane change so that your need to change lanes doesn't cost him or her that precious 1 second[1] that will make the obvious difference between their life and death (how dare you!).

Change lanes anyway.  Few aggressive assholes actually have the balls to close the gap enough to lock you out completely - about 15' or so.  And if the asshole hits you in the back afterward, it's legally his fault!  Make sure your car is towed and you check your neck and spine at the hospital.  Sue his ass off!  Sue his mother for rearing a defective child!  Sue!  Sue!  SUE!  Do be careful not sideswipe the asshole, and not to tag the motorist that you're squeezing in behind.

Lane Choice...

This seems to be a problem endemic to the United States and crowded city regions in particular.  The left lane is for passing, but something seems to get lost in the translation.  Maybe it has to do with not needing to be able to read English to get a drivers license in the U.S.   I don't know.  The result is that the left lane is full of distracted slow-paced motorists on cellular phones and eating Big Macs, while the right lanes are dangerously traversed by frustrated people trying to find the limits of their vehicle's speed and handling on their way to work or the detox center or whatever.

If you're in the left lane and everyone is passing you on the right, move over dammit!  This is not rocket science - you should not have to buy a vowel to figure this out.  Conversely, the hurried masses seem to have this self- righteous indignance about posession of the left lane.   Just remember that when an equally self-righteous motorist is in front of you and you act like an asshole by tailgating, it'll be your fault when he gets indignant and hits his brakes and you rear-end him.

Horn Use...

Your vehicle's horn is supposed to be used to warn people of immediate life- or property- threatening danger.  It says so right there in the drivers manual, and that document is available in every language including braille so there are no excuses.  Your horn is not to caution others that you're about to be a dangerous asshole because the traffic in front of you is not moving as fast as you would like.  Nor is your horn button meant to be beat upon like an angry infant hammering the bleating rubber squeaky horn of a Fisher-Price automobile dashboard.  Get a life.

If some other asshole is incognizant of your presence and you need him or her to move, a quick tap or two on the horn will get their attention.  Your horn is not a magical device that can alter the space-time continuum.  Leaning on it will only earn you indignance from your fellow motorists.  Don't be surprised when they slow down and block your path.  And don't be surprised when your car gets pelted by eggs, used rubbers, spoilt spam or whatever else nearby apartment dwellers can hastily lob from their windows.

SUV's...

SUV's or "sport utility vehicles" are becoming more and more common.  People who passed their driving test in a Toyota Tercel can get behind the wheel of a Lincoln Navigator with the only question asked being "will that be cash or credit card?".  This leads to a whole new category of drivers that used to be easily identifiable (and thus avoidable) because their vehicles were big and yellow and said "RYDER" on the side.  These people think that "4WD" means "invincible", don't give a thought to its inferior handling, and don't realize that you can't "touch-park" against nearby cars when your bumper height is mis-matched by two feet.

SUV's are to be avoided in traffic with the same care that you use around rental trucks, any taxicab, women driving Mercedes', vehicles with diplomatic plates.  Any self- respecting redneck (read: good drivers) will be driving a pre-1990 Blazer or similar and you can safely lump 90% of the other SUV drivers into the asshole category.  Generally there's an inverse relationship between vehicle size or price and driver skill, so treat Navigators and Suburbans with extra care.  Feel free to laugh hysterically at Suzukis but if you drag race them, stay on the inside of any curves.

With SUV's, the danger does not stop once you're out of traffic.   Parking anything near an SUV is taking a gamble with your vehicle and your odds are better at the craps table.  If the only parking space available is next to an SUV, take down the license plate info before you leave your vehicle.  If you come back to hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of broken lamps, bent hood, trunk or quarter panel, you can track the asshole down for five dollars through your insurance broker or sheiste, er, lawyer.  Allstate may fix the damage and most body shops know how to eat the deductible by overcharging, but that won't give you the personal satisfaction of torching the assholes SUV (hypothetical example of course - ahem - you should never consider doing anything illegal).

Pedestrians...

Assholes do not have to be limited to motorists.  Mayor Giuliani was roasted as a fascist for a number of things including attempts to control pedestrian traffic in New York City.  While the absurdity of such an endeavor does not necessarily imply that Rudy isn't a fascist, it does underscore the fact that pedestrian death tolls are rising because pedestrians are getting bolder and more foolish by the moment.

"The pedestrian is always right" is not a maxim; it is an epitaphTo cross against the light or walk in the street in one of the most densely populated cities in the world is STUPID.  To do so without looking for and expecting oncoming traffic is SUICIDE.  Most asshole pedestrians know enough to quicken their stride when they hear the engines gunning for them, but many are indignant.  That's OK though - it only means that modern society has managed to coddle them past dangers that should probably have killed them long ago.   Eventually they'll face some hapless motorist in a hurry and the gene pool will be refined a degree further.

Taxicabs...

Taxicabs I believe represent a uniquely grave threat in New York City.  Most are driving for fleets, whose pay structure is roughly equivalent to slavery[2].  This enormous pressure to make less money than a part-time job at White Castle leads to vicious driving habits that in spite of mostly good technical skill at the wheel (by necessity if nothing else), are extraordinarily callous and dangerous.  Even private taxicab owners are forced to behave like animals behind the wheel to compete for business in the bustling streets of Manhattan.   Speeding, tailgating, triple lane changes, illegal U-turns, turning corners from the wrong lanes, cutting off traffic, picking up fares illegally and blocking traffic are just a few examples of typical NYC taxicab driving. 

Fortunately, there are countermeasures for even the most formidable threats.  In NYC it's called the Taxi and Limousine Commission.   In a strange devil's-advocate fashion, the TLC proves that justice is only a concept.  If some cabbie pisses you off, you get his tag number and hopefully his TLC license ID number.  Make careful notes of date, time, location, his/her appearance, and appearance of the fare if any.  You file a complaint by phone to the TLC and they make a court date.  Court is just a dingy office near Times Square, and it's administrative law which means that a defendant's constitutional rights are confiscated at the door.  You as the complainant show up with your allegations well-rehearsed, and the cabbie shows up with his phony logs that prove he was in Haiti at the time, etc., and the judge pretty much automatically finds against the cabbie because they assume that if you were willing to spend the time off from your important job in some dark, musty midtown office for an hour, that there must be some validity to your complaint.  What a country!

Law Enforcement...

Assholes don't even have to be limited to ordinary citizens.   You need look no further than the nearest police precinct to find dozens of prime grade-A assholes all in one handy place.  Unfortunately they venture out of their precinct houses routinely and most of them drive when they do so.  This means that whether they're rushing to an armed robbery in progress or to Krispy Kreme [*], you're just as likely to see them violate all the traffic rules and regulations that they are sworn to enforce with the zeal of a skinhead at a Hitler Youth march.  Traffic Enforcement agents ignore their own laws just as frequently and you should find that very frightening since they don't have the benefit of pursuit driving lessons the way regular law enforcement officers do.

Don't be lured!  Don't follow them through the red lights, and when someone is driving up your butt in the left lane of a highway, check to make sure it's not an unmarked patrol car hoping to bait you into speeding.  Better yet, when you see this behavior and particularly when there's no obvious reason for it (emergency lights off, etc.), file a complaint with the CCRB.  The CCRB is the Civilian Complaint Review Board.   These days the CCRB is mostly hobbled by Herr Giuliani, but don't be discouraged!   When the cop finally gets into an accident and someone starts a law suit against the cop and the city, all those complaints will be on record and will help the accident victim's case immensely.

Regular cops are just part of the picture.  Traffic Enforcement Agency "officers" (formerly known as "brownies") can be assholes too, but only uphold administrative law.   Don't make the mistake of trying to argue civil or criminal law with these assholes.  They have less education and less promise than the average homeless person.  And remember that in administrative court, the constitution is banned from mention and you are guilty until proven innocent.  Luckily for you as a citizen, the scales aren't tipped totally in the city's favor because TEA officers, being one of the lowest forms of arguably human life, are rarely able to correctly fill out a summons (in the case of parking) or coherently state their supporting depositions (in the case of a moving violation), even when reading their own handwriting.  If one of these assholes does manage to nail you, fight it.  Even if you lose, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you cost the system your money's worth.

Footnotes

[1]  If you actually follow the rule to leave a car length for every 10 MPH between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you (please stop laughing), letting a vehicle in front of you who follows the same rule will delay arrival to your destination by approximately 1 second.  If you factor in typical city traffic light timing and do a little statistical wizardry, the chance of you enduring any delay at all is about one in ten and if you are delayed, the average delay works out to be about three seconds.  Big deal.  [back]

[2]  NYC Taxi medallions cost as much as a metro area house on 1 acre with a 3-car garage, so most of them are owned by large fleet owners, who "rent" out their cabs on a daily basis.  You can wait 4 hours with your thumb up your butt just to rent one of these cabs, and then drive it eight hours just to make back what you put out for the rental.  If you work hard and drive more hours than is even legal to log, you might bring home $50 a day.  If you don't make it to the fleet office early enough, you might not even get the rental, which means you end up with the wetbacks waiting for a pickup truck to take you to a construction job, and that's if you're lucky.  [back]

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