I was wrong. Instead, what I saw was perhaps the most dangerous thing I could have seen behind the wheel of two tonnes of death-delivering metal. There sat an octogenarian gentleman, who was valiantly trying to see through a pair of spectacles which closely resembled the bottoms of beer bottles fixed together with plastic. Worst of all, though, was the expression upon his face - it was one of terror. Scampering smartly to relative safety behind the corner of the building, I started thinking. This happenstance made me wonder about the more obvious signs of a bad driver - signs that I have collected over thirty three years of driving, much of it in a professional capacity - indications which I have found to be almost flawless warnings of impending incompetence. I thought that I might share some with you. Call me twisted or prejudiced if you like. I can't hear you.
- Driver wearing a hat. It doesn't matter what kind of a hat; a trilby, a toque, a sombrero or a baseball cap. Of particular danger is the elderly male wearing a Trilby, or the elderly female wearing anything with fake flowers stuck onto it. Stoners wearing toques come a close third...
- Driver has their mouth open in apparent concentration. Usually very elderly, usually male, usually potentially deadly - driving is taking up so much of their neurology, they are struggling to breathe and keep their mouth shut at the same time.
- North America: Buick or Oldsmobile (any model) - reliable signs of typically driving 30kmh below the posted limit and of impending (low speed) impacts.
- UK: Austin/British Leyland or Rover. See above.
- A combination of any of the above factors: park the car and walk. Go and have a coffee - stay off the road until the danger has passed.
- Extraordinarliy corpulent driver: the type that looks like he/she has arms which are too short to reach the wheel, let alone turn it. Their legs are probably even worse. Get out of the way before they lose control of the car because they don't have room to move properly, or have a heart attack or, of course, both.
- Already large pickup trucks on lifted suspension: most commonly penis-compensating individuals with little or no regard for other road users. They believe that their height above the road renders them immune from rules and regulations. Shaved heads (usually sunburned) and garish tattoos in such vehicles are as reliable as hats when it comes to identifying potential twattery behind the wheel.
- Rubber scrotum hanging off tow hitch: see lifted suspension.
- Flames paint job on vehicle - see lifted suspension and rubber scrotum.
- Honda Civics older than 2000. Enough said.
- Modifications to old Honda Civics: an exhaust which sounds like a fart in a jam jar, lowered or spaced suspension, strange graphics in the rear windows, green (yes, green) wheels - all rock-solid indicators of buffoonery.
- Anyone driving with an animal in their lap. Self-explanatory stupidity: they think it's OK to do that.
- Any vehicle filled with individuals wearing baseball caps backwards: low IQ/shallow gene pool alert - stay behind them and watch the tragedy unfold.
- Young male driver (often bad enough on its own), specifically in lowered or wound-down driver's seat, peeping over the top of the dashboard and along one dead straight arm which leads to his hand either on the very top of the wheel, or on the opposite side of the wheel from what would be a natural position. We can probably guess what the other hand is doing.
- Finally (for today, anyway) the 'mom' type, self-consciously driving a mini van full of kids (cuz she's a MOM), speeding to get to the next vitally important play date, fiddling with her coffee mug, shouting over her shoulder at the mewling brats and answering her iPhone - because rules don't apply to MOMs. Whatever happens next, it's someone else's fault.
Be careful out there folks - they're everywhere...now, where's my hat?