Ask newcomers to Charlotte, aka The Land of A Million Stoplights, what they like about the city, and they'll tell you it's the weather, the jobs, their new friendly probation officer, whatever. But ask them what they don't like, and they'll look at you like you're nuts and say, "What, are you kidding me? The drivers! You got the worst drivers in the world here. What's wrong with these bozos? ..." and on and on.
You know what? They're right. What our new neighbors don't realize, however, is that many of the city's bad drivers are from out-of-town (OK, let's be honest, they're mostly South Carolinians) who aren't used to Charlotte traffic customs such as driving 10 miles over the speed limit, not having to slow down for tractors, etc. But you can't blame it all on out-of-towners -- Charlotte has plenty of homegrown driving delinquents who make you want to install a rocket launcher on the hood of your car.
Luckily, I've researched the issue, and I can tell you that the city's lousiest drivers usually fit into one of several Charlotte driver "types." So, as a gift to novices on Charlotte's winding roads, here's a handy guide to some of the most common types of dangerous, or just exasperating, drivers you'll encounter here.
The Fast Lane Hog: Maybe the most infuriating driver of all, this idiot clings to the left lane and refuses to move over, even though cars are passing him on the right and there's a 10-deep line of cars behind him (including you, who are right on his butt, flashing your lights).
The Cellphone Drifter: Either a teenager or business hustler who pays more attention to his phone than to the road and drifts, without realizing it, into and out of your lane.
Grampa Sporty: This type has infested southeast Charlotte: a gray-haired guy in a sports convertible, battling Peter Pan Syndrome. Cigar and grown daughter (whom he hopes you'll think is his girlfriend) are optional.
Officer Asshole: This police officer's specialty is flashing his lights and making everyone get out of the way so he can get through bunched-up traffic. Then, as soon as he's through, the lights turn off, and you see him a little later, just down the road having lunch at a diner.
The Parking Lot Dominatrix: A lone woman in a Chevy Suburban or Ford Excursion, she is usually headed to a mall or grocery store, where her vehicle will block the view of anyone who is parked next to her and needs to back out.
Sneaky Lefty: One or two cars turning left after the turn signal has changed to red is OK, but there's always the driver who decides to tag along behind the others. And then, that driver is followed by Sneaky Lefty, probably the most inconsiderate, selfish, and likeliest to cause an accident of all Charlotte drivers.
The Invader: Your lane of traffic slows down drastically, as the next lane is blocked ahead by road work. You patiently wait your turn, but not The Invader. This jerk pulls out of your lane and zooms up the next one, passing everyone, and expects someone near the front of the line to let him in. This is when that rocket launcher could really come in handy.
The Old Man With A Hat: He's not all that dangerous, just annoying. And slow. Re-a-l-l-y s-l-o-o-o-w. Probably on his way to chew the fat with his buddies at ye olde hardware store.
The Mobile Beat Box: This driver is the proud owner of a car sound system that cost more than his ride and is determined to make everyone else listen to it. Usually, the bass is jacked up so high, you expect the car to fall apart in front of you.
The Turn Signal Turn-off: A true Queen City specialty. You're sitting at a stop sign, wanting to turn right. You could've made it out if only the driver coming toward you from the left had switched on his friggin' turn signal to let you know he was turning before he got to you!
The Neverending Turner: An Old Charlotte institution, this driver doesn't just slow down before turning into his driveway. He enjoys coming to a complete stop before making the big move. No one knows why he does it, but watch out or you'll slam into him. Additional warning: the Neverending Turner is often also in the Turn Signal Turn-Off club, too.
The Slow Slider: This driver, pulls out in front of you from a side street and immediately slows down. If the move is pulled off properly, there will be too much traffic in the next lane for you to pass your new, slow friend.
Avon Driving: A morning phenomenon, you'll often see her brushing her hair, putting on mascara, or applying makeup at a stoplight. But wait -- the light changes, she starts moving, and keeps right on looking in the mirror while pretending to drive her car.