Top 5: Miami Ranks FIRST In These “Worst Driver” Categories

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Miami’s 5 most inconsiderate, nasty and dangerous driving habits

Notes on The Psychology of Bad Driving

Travel to any city by car, drive around a while and you’ll find that most major cities have bad drivers. There are inconsiderate drivers virtually everywhere you go. Driving, these days, isn’t for the faint-hearted.

But a recent survey by a Florida Transportation team, Dr. Michael Slote, along with reporting by The New Times ranks Miami “the absolute worst” in a number of common categories. While other metropolitan areas have traffic issues — bringing their own brand bad drivers — with Miami’s roadways, by comparison, we seem to be witnessing the disintegration of the moral fabric. “Would the whole traffic situation be better in Miami if people gave more thought to the moral question?” asks Dr. Slote, who has published a slew of books, including Commonsense Morality and ConsequentialismFrom Morality to Virtue, and Morals from Motives. “It’s a very good question because I think we would all benefit if we considered the moral issues in traffic, not necessarily the legal, or exclusively legal, ones.”

Yes, but we’re all in a hurry and somebody’s in our way! That’s the driving life here in the tropics. Here’s the list of Miami’s Top 5 most inconsiderate and dangerous driving habits:

#5: The secret meaning of Turn Signals 

Rated WORST of the WORST: Notice to new Miami drivers: DO NOT use turn signals to change lanes. In Miami, a turn signal triggers all adjacent drivers to assemble in a tight formation to effectively block your lane change — now and for many miles to come.

Don’t act innocent. You’ve done it.

According to Dr. Slote, “This is what I’ve been thinking about most. The idea is that people won’t let you change lanes if you signal — and that’s not very nice of them. So what does one do to protect oneself? You do something independently that is morally questionable (mostly disobeying the law) to stop someone from doing something that is more morally questionable. Sometimes it is all right to do something that would be immoral to prevent someone from doing something that is otherwise not morally kosher. My impression is that most people in Miami do not use turn signals when changing lanes. If most people were nicer, then you would have all the moral reason to use your turn signal.”

#4: Only idiots wait in a line of traffic

Rated WORST of the WORST: There’s ALWAYS that one guy who zooms to the front of a long, long line of cars attempting to enter, or exit — or whatever — and “bumper bullies” his way in line. Waiting is for shlubs!

Once again, Dr. Slote: “Well, one kind of thinking in morality, and it comes out of Kant, is something called rule utilitarianism: It is wrong if it would be bad for everyone to do it. I’m not convinced that’s dispositive of the ethical issue here. Sure, it would be bad if everyone did this. What I think about in this case is what do most people do? If most people do wait in the line and then there were a few people who cut in, then I’d think probably one should be waiting in that line. But if you know lots and lots of people are cutting the line, this is what a philosopher calls a ‘state of nature’: There is supposed to be a rule here, but people are acting as if there are no rules and it’s whatever you can get out of the situation.

“I’m inclined to say if everyone or mostly everyone is skipping the queue, then if you do it too, it’s not so bad. But if lots and lots of people wait patiently in that line, one has to do one’s fair share. I have a feeling that most people are patient, and as a good citizen, one ought to be on the side of patience.”

#3: Treatment of the overprivileged 

Rated WORST of the WORST: Nice cars never get the right of way. “Hey, you’re driving a new Lexus and I’m driving a 1998 Camry — so I’m not letting you in!”

“Dr. Slote had some choice words for this Miami habit: “A very expensive car is not an excuse for being rude to someone. This is a capitalist democracy — come on, now!” Slote did concede that there may be exceptions: “I don’t think any kind of excuse allows for this, but if the expensive car had a racist bumper sticker, then I guess it’s understandable why someone would not let them merge into their lane. But it better damn well be racist! If it’s just a Make America Great Again bumper sticker, it’s only racist by association and innuendo. The bumper sticker really has to be explicitly racist for any kind of exception.”

#2: (Tie) The mind of the lane-blocker

Rated WORST of the WORST: Slote had a surprising reaction: “There might be some moral issues that arise around this, but it just doesn’t sound like a moral question. There might be nowhere else for them to park, and if it’s pretty easy to go around them, I wouldn’t worry too much about this one.”

Nevertheless, Miami rated worst in the overt act of illegal or highly inconsiderate lane blocking. With some of the lawlessness auto driving we experience in Miami, blocking lanes is your problem. And Miami’s Uber drivers are the absolute worst of the worst.

#2: (Tie) The absolute shortest period of time

Rated WORST of the WORST: The shortest period of time is between a red light turning green, and a horn blaring from behind. Officially clocked at 0.000001 seconds. Recently, however, Miami drivers have become adept at anticipating a green light, honking before the light turns. Hey, you’ll get there a tenth of a second sooner!

Slote gives us some guidelines: “If you beep immediately, that’s morally suspect. But if you wait five seconds and the person still hasn’t moved, there’s nothing wrong with beeping. Of course, a less obnoxious little beep rather than a long blast of the horn is preferred. That’s what I do. I will beep if I wait five or six seconds and the person hasn’t moved. It will be a soft touch of the horn, not a loud blast.”

#1: F**K off!

Rated WORST of the WORST: Flipping the bird sure feels good sometimes. So many idiots on the road! Sometimes you just have to let them know how you feel. A honk of the horn won’t do it. Gotta degrade the person. It’s not good manners, but sometimes the ol’ middle finger is the ultimate emoje!

Slote says: “Giving someone the finger is a very vulgar and unmannerly thing to do, even if that someone has done something against you. It’s just bad manners. You know, in ancient times, Aristotle stated that manners were our minimum morality, the most minimum of moral questions. I believe really bad manners can approach bad morality. So I think if you give someone the finger, it’s approaching a wrong action. I wouldn’t call it a wrong action. There’s a category in theoretical work on ethics called ‘offenses.’ So I would say giving the finger is an offense, but not necessarily wrong.

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