Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed a weird trend in daily traffic. Drivers pull it up to a traffic light and stop several feet away from the car ahead of them. A friend of mine calls it “pre-stopping.” I call it aggravating.
It’s especially so if you drive a manual transmission car. Or a bike. Drivers stop several feet before they should, then roll up like they’re stalking the preceding vehicle. The cars ahead of me keep crawling forward instead of just pulling up to the stop light and- well, stopping. Busy intersections nowadays are more like pausing… to creep forward… every few… seconds.
At first I blamed this on small people piloting huge vehicles. The acreage your common SUV covers makes it challenging for the average driver to negotiate their expansive property line. How can we expect mom to see over the hood of that Tot Rod when she can barely see over the dash?
But when I began observing their techniques this theory seemed to evaporate like fuel from a Ford Expedition’s gas tank. I noticed the vehicles the “pre-stoppists” drive are not always huge. Or not by American standards anyway. Sure, you’ll see plenty of Hummers leaving a full car length or more ahead of themselves- but you’ll also see Camrys and Subarus sneaking up to the light.
So if the vehicle isn’t the common thread, maybe it’s the drivers? I started watching what people in the car were doing when stopping short. It didn’t surprise me there were a lot of cell phones visible. But I’m not so sure there is any higher proportion of conversations inside those cars waiting blocks away from the stop light. In fact, the scariest realization for me was everyone in traffic seems to be yakking on their cell phone!
So for now we’ll just wait and wonder. But please wait several feet behind me.