Friday, November 19, 2004

Offensive Driving II

Read my first report here.  This time it wasn’t with a UPS truck; it was with a school bus.  Close to the same area, though, and same time of day (9:45 am).

Two lanes turn left from Rainier Avenue onto Dearborn.  Half a mile later, a left turn from Dearborn goes onto the I-90 bypass of I-5.  There is a two-way turn lane on Dearborn which becomes the left turn to the onramp.

I turned from the leftmost of the two lanes on Rainier into the leftmost of the lanes on Dearborn.  A school bus turned from the rightmost of the two lanes into the rightmost lane on Dearborn.  About half a block on Dearborn, the driver (I’ve since learned the driver was female; I only mention that so I can use a pronoun for the rest of this) realized she needed to get into the left lane to eventually get onto I-90, and she started to change lanes.

At first, she just edged into the lane a little, as though dodging around a parked car.  Once I was up almost parallel with her (she could probably see the hood of my car by looking directly down from her seat, but I may have been in a bit of a blind spot), she was signaling.  (She may have been signaling before that.  I don’t remember such, but it may have happened.)  At that point, we were stopped at a stoplight, and she was only a foot or so into my lane.  The only way for me to let her in without her hitting my car would have been to go into reverse, which is not smart in the left lane on city streets.  She edged in a little more, I honked, and I dodged around her.  (At this point, I saw that there were no cars immediately behind me; they had all held back to let her change lanes.)

A kid in the bus seated directly behind her put down his window and started yelling at me (I couldn’t hear what he said, but I can imagine it; I think he may have been the only other person on the bus, but I couldn't really tell).  She then laid on her horn for 5 seconds or more; I flipped her off, naturally.  She then gunned the bus (started to speed) and pulled into the two-way turn lane (maybe 1/4 mile before it becomes a left turn lane for the onramp), intending to at least race up to the onramp, but possibly to either pull up next to me and yell at me (or who knows what!) or else pull alongside me and prevent me from getting in the turn lane myself.  So I had to speed a little myself to ensure I got into the lane.

Once on the onramp, the bus fell back as much as 1/4 mile, since it just didn’t have the oomph that a smaller vehicle does.  Once onto the bypass, though, she picked up speed again — almost certainly speeding, since I was at or near the speed limit.  Three lanes merge into one to enter I-5, and she got in the right-hand lane, the second to merge, and rather than merging at a reasonable time, pushed the bus ahead to merge only when the two lanes collapsed together.  My belief is that she was trying to catch me.

Once on I-5, again at the speed limit, I crossed several lanes of traffic to get to my left-side exit at Mercer.  She continued speeding, pulling parallel to me, but a couple lanes over.  Glances to my right (trying not to impede my driving) showed the kid flipping me off and gave me the impression that she was on the phone (presumably to report the incident).  As a result, I noted the bus company and number, pulled out my cell, and left a message at work to report the incident myself.

When I called and spoke to the supervisor (also female; use those pronouns!), I found that indeed, the incident had been reported, and the supervisor verbally agreed with me that it sounded like there was some aggression and borderline reckless driving occurring (and with kids on board, that’s worse).  (I note that she verbally agreed with me; you can never tell over the phone that they are not just nodding and brushing you off.)  She promised that the driver would receive some additional training or something to that effect.  I did my best to be moderately apologetic and to admit my own part in the incident (the possible lack of realization that she was signaling to change lanes until I was right next to her).

The supervisor also refrained from take my name and contact number, lest it somehow get into the wrong hands and result in some form of retaliation.  I suppose that’s a good thing, although it does restrict any paper trail.  Ah well, I’ve done what I can.  I hold no malice toward the driver, and I apologize for my portion of the incident.  I hope she merely gets a “talking to” and maybe a short training session, and not any lasting job impact.

Updated on May 25, 2011

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