This driver should give up coffee -- and driving -- before someone gets hurt

080515blog dunkin donuts

Uninvolved motorist in blue car demonstrates how to use left-turn lane safely.

Credit: Paul McNamara

Only my preternaturally quick reflexes prevented a young driver from harming us both this morning ... all because she needed to stop at Dunkin' Donuts.

My daily commute includes a left-hand turn that traffic engineers were smart enough to equip with a very long left-hand turn lane because it funnels into a busy intersection. Today I entered that lane with nothing but empty pavement between my car and the light; Dunkin' Donuts and a few other businesses to my left. Being a careful driver, I was watching for cars exiting those establishments on my left, as that happens regularly.

Suddenly, like a car out of hell, our young driver passes my moving vehicle on the right and swerves directly in front of it, not to join me in the left-hand turn lane, which would have been reckless enough, but to reach the Dunkin’ Donuts and order some ridiculous cup of froth and maybe a box of Munchkins, given her general maturity level.

I mash the brakes, producing that trademark shrieking-skidding noise that was loud but nowhere near loud enough to drown out my fully engaged car horn and Tarantino-style cursing. All of this happened in a fraction of a second, of course, but half-way through that fraction I would have bet my first-born -- I forget who that is -- that there was no chance on Earth my car and her car were going to avoid a collision. We did, though … I mean I did, with maybe three inches to spare, no more. I’m pretty sure she came to a full stop, but not for long before barreling into the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot.

(In case my description of what happened is unclear, look at the picture above and imagine the blue car is not stopped but rather is traveling at – I’m guessing here – 25 or 30 mph. Now imagine the barely visible white truck in the bottom-left corner passing the blue car and abruptly swerving in front of it in order to get to that Dunkin’ Donuts. Yes, really.)

Thinking about the sequence afterward, what strikes me most is that she must have seen my moving car. She passed me on the right; I was directly in her field of vision. This was a calculated move, not the result of inattention.

The other thing that strikes me? She’s still out there and it’s inevitable that she’s going to hurt someone.

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