A Modest Proposal About Moronic Motorists

An alert “06880” reader who chooses anonymity writes:

I have noticed that Westporters not only park stupidly, they also drive stupidly. Lately, they seem to drive even worse than people from New Jersey, if that is possible.

My wife says it is because of the aging population. I think it is because Westport is becoming an idiot cluster.

So I thought: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a squadron of young, responsible, trained (or at least thoroughly tested) drivers available at, say, $15 or $20 per hour to drive people in their own cars, safely and responsibly? They would do errands, go to events, etc., and prevent the moving violation version of all those preposterous parking jobs we see on “06880.”

A typical Westport driver.

A typical Westport driver.

This would:

  1. Gainfully employ many young locals with proven safe driving records;
  2. Cut way back on stupid driving practices of the aged (and I write this as an older Mensan whose reaction time and driving skills may not be what they were as a youth, albeit whose judgment has matured somewhat);
  3. Reduce some of the moronic parking practices that are seemingly Westport’s speciality du jour.

More importantly, based on the many close calls I’ve seen in recent months, anything that anticipates and/or reduces accidents would be a godsend. In fact, talk about a built-in source of designated drivers: The cost could probably be added to a dinner check if the call is made by a restaurant or bar owner, with the agreement of the patron (in lieu of the police being called, or a driver risking a DUI).

I read about a service like this where designated drivers used small gas-powered scooters to get to their driving jobs, put the scooters in the trunk of the car they would drive, and took ’em out when they dropped the car and people at their homes.

Something would have to be worked out regarding insurance, although the town might (should) be able to come up with something, if they put their minds (ha!) to it.

It's every driver for him or herself here!

It’s every driver for him or herself here!

Since this may not be a bad idea, I assume there is no chance whatsoever of having a reasonable discussion with authority figures. So I’m sending it to “06880.”

What do you think?

I think I will leave this to our readers to decide. Click “Comments” — let’s hear your thoughts on how to get certain drivers off the road/help employ our young people.

35 responses to “A Modest Proposal About Moronic Motorists

  1. Daniel Katz

    1) If you’re gonna’ call your fellow townsfolk “stupid” and ‘Moronic,” you ought to have the balls to give your name.
    2) Having driven in Westport for 47 yrs, I fail to see the overwhelming problem to which you refer.
    3) Sure do agree about those Neew Jersey drivers.

  2. Bruce Fernie SHS 1970

    “My wife says it is because of the aging population. I think it is because Westport is becoming an idiot cluster.”

    Your wife is a nice person… you are a realist.

    I simply think many/most have become self-centered, egotistic, narcissists that could give a flying you know what about anyone else… plus I would bet many of the drivers only recently acquired Connecticut plates for their cars… if you know what I mean.

  3. Jill Turner Odice

    There are services where you hire somebody to drive you in your car to wherever you want to go. My brother worked for a company like that when we lived in Westport. He used to drive Martha Stewart, The Newmans etc. in their cars.

  4. Mark Bates

    Seems like you are making a pretty good case for a) Uber and, eventually b) autonomous vehicles.

  5. Lisa Marriott

    http://www.itncoastalct.org/ already exists here in Westport . From the website:

    Membership based – people 60 years and older (age eligibility varies by affiliate), and visually impaired adults are eligible to join
    Community based affiliates are supported by private, rather than public resources
    Affordable fares that are typically lower than a comparable taxi ride
    Available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for any purpose
    Not “just a taxi” – drivers provide arm-through-arm, door-to-door service and help with packages
    No money is exchanged in the vehicle, and tips are not accepted
    Riders pre-fund a personal transportation account, and a monthly statement details all payments and charges
    Uses automobiles, rather than vans or buses
    Rides may be booked at any time, with discounts for advance notice
    Riders may travel alone or with others, with discounts for shared rides

  6. Whitney D'Angelo

    You think these drives are “moronic” and “stupid”. However, they probably think they are great drivers and thus would never use a car service like you suggested.

  7. Caroline Kelly

    “I have noticed that Westporters not only park stupidly, they also drive stupidly.” I would like to know where you got the statistics that 100% of the drivers driving stupidly in Westport live in Westport? Do you even know if the person parked in your picture is a Westport resident? Until you can prove your statement I would keep your insulting opinions to yourself. These kinds of articles insulting Westport residents make me not want to read 06880 anymore. PS. I will give you a little hint not all cars driving and parking in Westport are Westport residents!!!

    • Morley Boyd

      Caroline, who shot your puppy? Everybody who reads 06880 knows perfectly well that any reference to bad drivers – or any other lamentable behavior for that matter – automatically excludes said readers. So don’t worry, it’s OK to come off the bench: public shaming is a team sport.

      • Caroline Kelly

        Honestly I don’t like the kind of team sport you all belong to. I try to see the good in people and not criticize. Will delete 06880 from my phone and won’t read it anymore.

  8. One word: Uber.

  9. Tom Siebrasse

    Probably has a lot to do with the influx of people from NYC who literally did not have need of a drivers license before they moved here. Therefore we have a preponderance of newbies with cell phones plastered to their practice driving 8000 lb monster SUVs.

  10. Jill Delaney

    I can forgive “stupid or confused” drivers. What “drives” me around the bend is narcissistic entitlement and that is what I think we have an abundance of in Westport. The people who take up two parking spots because they can’t be bothered to consider someone else and the people who hit the horn the split second the light turns green. There seems to be a correlation between reaction time and the price of the car, if you get my drift.

  11. needs to be repeated….UBER

  12. Linda Stein

    If you have something to say, say it and put your name on it. In this case, your license plate number too.
    Was under the impression anonymous insults were not allowed on “06880” anymore

  13. Arline Gertzoff

    Good idea but it is not just us seniors Check out the people often young who are just in a hurry or those without blue-tooth hands free phones .Lane jumpers i.e. People in right lane who want to turn left and just do it etc

  14. Michelle Benner

    Uber

  15. Jerry MacDaid

    As several have mentioned, what you suggest sounds like Uber, though their comp scheme might promote more rather than less aggressive driving. Not sure teens are the answer though. Better reflexes probably don’t fully offset lack of experience and relative fearlessness.

    Going somewhat off-topic, but triggered by Dan’s various posts (and comments thereon) on bad Westport drivers, I’m not sure whether it is age, inexperience, or not being from around here but there are bad driving behaviors and, if you engage in them, I might just honk at you. I don’t think I’m a particularly aggressive driver and seldom fly into a rage when confronted with bad drivers, but just because you happen to have excess time on your hands, please don’t think that everyone else does so should just slow down and take it easy. Particularly during rush hour.

    As a follow up tomArline, let me add some (but not all) of my pet driving annoyances – drivers who:

    1) slow down several hundred yards ahead of a green traffic light (I suppose on off chance it may turn) creating a self-fulfilling prophesy as light turns as they get to intersection ensuring they and others do not make the light.

    2) execute move #1 then accelerate through just turned yellow/red light, making it through intersection but ensuring no one behind them can.

    3) are behind the person executing move #2 who tailgate through now very red light in fit of rage.

    4) accelerate when seeing yellow light thus entering intersection as light turns or is red.

    5) while having green light but blocked by traffic ahead, pull into intersection blocking left turners or cross traffic when light changes (a particular problem downtown)

    6) are traveling at normal speed (Post Road or highway) in other than right hand lane then slow down to match speed when overtaking car in right hand lane creating a rolling roadblock only to accelerate again when car in right hand lane turns or is eventually passed.

    7) when sitting at traffic light and cross traffic has stopped (e.g. where #2, #3 or #4 are not happening – if you are paying attention, you will know), do not move when light turns green (particularly at Fresh Market exit).

    8) do not know right of way rules or proper etiquette at 4 way stop signs.

    9) randomly speed up and slow down (maybe because they have no clue where they are going – if so, pull over and figure it out).

    10) change lanes without looking or signaling.

    11) decide to personally enforce traffic laws by going 5 mph below speed limit.

    12) drive with dogs in driver’s lap.

    13) needless to say, drive while drunk, stoned, texting, talking or otherwise impaired or distracted.

  16. Cherie Quain

    Isn’t Uber already out there ?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  17. Uber – and I may add that after reading all the comments that bad driving & selfish habits are not unique to Westport it is a universal problem in many, many areas……..it’s unfortunate but the world is changing & as the population increases so does the proportion of rudeness, it’s just math.

  18. Dear Dan,

    It won’t work, because the moronic drivers don’t think of themselves as moronic; they think of themselves as entitled. They won’t call others for help; they don’t believe they need it. And many of these people are not old; they are, rather, aggressive, overly-ambitious, workaholic businessmen—and their pampered, vacuous wives—with so much venom in their systems that driving, and parking, are among the only ways they can purge themselves.

    As I suggested before, one of the best things that your readers can do, at your suggestion, would be, in addition to taking pictures of the selfishly parked cars, to take close-ups of the license plates. Perhaps, although I think it unlikely, the police would welcome such “evidence” and fine these egomaniacs after the fact.

    Eric

  19. ..why were 60+ year old drivers singled out as the problem? Dan, what are the statistics on road incidents/accidents based on age?

  20. driving in Westport was always weird…even in the 40s.. maybe that’s why sensible folks used to park at Walt’s Gas Station (the Mobil on Main St.) and then WALK.
    similar problems exist even in the Washington (98249) wilderness where
    i now live…it seems to be almost always when texting and similar assinine behaviours are combined with the driving.

  21. Aimee Garn

    I agree that the guest writer’s defining adjectives about Westport drivers are harsh, and aren’t really necessary to make the point. Bad driving (inattentive, careless, overly-entitled, or any other kind) happens all over. On I-95 recently I passed five accident scenes in about 30 miles.
    The main point of the piece– that it may be safer in some situations for people to hire a driver or take an Uber– could work if people get used to considering those options. The fact that there is already the service here is a good start.

  22. Christine Barth

    Coming late to this conversation, I agree with much that has been said, particularly Jerry MacDaid’s pet peeves. I am not a native Westporter, but I have been driving in Westport for 20 years. I agree that the situation is worse now, but I think at least some of it is due to over-crowding.

    I am an older driver (72) with no accidents, and a former NYC resident (but I always had a driver’s license). I see a lot of what I consider to be “entitled driving” or “hesitant driving.” The drivers don’t seem to fall into any category that I can identify: young, old, male, female, on the phone or not, often with out-of-state plates. Other than driving very defensively, I don’t know the answer. As many have said, “You can’t fix stupid.” No sense in profiling; bad drivers are just bad drivers.

  23. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Just saw an ad in today’s NYT Style Magazine (not my usual Sunday fare) — it’s called the “Relaxation Hoodie”, a “cocoon-like sweatshirt in calming Baker-Miller pink that comes with a soothing soundtrack” ($310) — perfect while driving.

  24. Matt Murray

    Dan, it’s “Mister Moronic” to you! 🙂

  25. Chris Grimm

    Not to get us off topic, but some of the parking issues are indeed because of insufficient parking in high volume locations (Starbucks East and Shake Shack immediately come to mind). And, to a degree, aren’t these P&Z issues? I suppose that SBX has had increased volume and no longer has “auxiliary parking” across the street – but at least they are moving. But Shake Shack was NEVER going to have sufficient parking – I love the place, but always wonder how these obviously bad (from a traffic/parking perspective) situations happen.

    As to the driving, if one day a week the speed traps were replaced by “cell phone while driving” traps or “running the red light” traps, we’d all be better off.