Australia’s most annoying driving habits?

If only everyone else out there could drive as well as – obviously – the readers and writers of Practical Motoring, wonders Jane Speechley.

I LOVE TO DRIVE (no surprise there) and as a result, I usually find I’m content enough when behind the wheel to tolerate most of the bad behaviour out there. Unless someone’s doing something really stupid and dangerous, they usually just get a ‘tsk tsk’ and pursed-lips, shake-of-the-head from me.

But yesterday, as I hit the brakes to avoid a driver who swung out left in front of me in order to turn right, I got to thinking. What are the driving habits that annoy us the most? I’ll start us off.

Swing turners

As mentioned above, when people swing out to the left as they turn right, and vice versa. What is with that? Apparently it’s something to do with weight transfer? I’m not sure that counts when you’re taking off from a full stop. I’m sure they’re enjoying their lovely, wide, sweeping turn, but on a two-lane road, it’s pretty risky. Trailers and road trains excused.

Light crawlers

I believe this one has its foundations in the idea that you can save fuel by accelerating off from a slow crawl rather than having to take off from a complete stop. I hope that saving those few cents is worth incurring the wrath of all the other drivers around you. Extra Irritation Points for doing it in a way that blocks vehicles from entering the slip lane beside you.

Space hogs

Another way drivers block the slip lane is by stopping waaaaay too far from the car in front at an intersection or traffic lights. A safe distance is great! A conservative distance is also fine. However, if you’re stopping more than a full car length away, I’m going to suggest you don’t know your car’s length and width as well as you should.


This one almost needs no explanation – it’s not only annoying but dangerous, and also a great way to increase the damage to your car from road debris. Stop tempting fate.

Brake testers

I’m not opposed to the idea of (gently) tapping the brake lights on, to let the tailgater behind you know they’re pushing your patience. But there appears to be a whole world of drivers out there who only know two speeds: full steam ahead, and hit the brakes. Their minds will be blown one day when they realise there are ways to moderate your speed by the way you drive, without hammering either the accelerator or the brake.

Right-lane squatters

Funnily enough, this one doesn’t bother me so much personally, but I know it’s a real source of frustration for many others. In fact, when motorists broadly are asked about their complaints, this one often tops the list. When you’ve got two or more lanes, and the speed limit is 80kmph or more, you shouldn’t be in the right lane unless you’re overtaking, turning right, avoiding a hazard, or you’re otherwise instructed to be there. Congested traffic generally means an exception too.

Mr (or Ms) Much-Too-Nice

But how can being too nice be a problem, I hear you say? Let me paint the picture: you’ve pulled up at an intersection and the car on your right has the right of way.  But they’re just so nice, and in such a chipper mood, they decide to wave you through first instead. Or … are they waving? You’re not sure. Maybe you should … wait, no, I think they’re going … no, no, they’re not … or are they? Maybe I’ll move forward … no, stop! … Now there’s another car on the left who’s just as confused … You see what I mean?

Parking fail

Someone once said to me, ‘Parking isn’t tennis. On the line isn’t in’. It’s a good rule to live by. Again, bonus Irritation Points for doing it in an extra-busy carpark.

The Incompetent Merger

Unfortunately, this is an area where other crappy drivers can really affect your ability to do well, and there’s a special place in hell for people who don’t allow other drivers to merge. But for the most part, I’m just going to say this: if you’ve reached the end of your merge lane, and had to come to an unexpected full stop, you’re doing it wrong.

Road raging

Look, there are a lot of cars on the road – and based on general population statistics, that means a lot of them are being driven by the idiots that are out there among us as well. For every idiot however, there’s a good driver who’s just having a bad day or makes a genuine mistake. If you’re roaring after everyone who crosses you, swearing, flipping the bird, and generally behaving as though you’re auditioning for Mad Max – guess who the idiot is?

Over to you – what habits on the road annoy you the most? And if you’re feeling brave – when have you been guilty of any of these?


  1. Steve-O
    November 7, 2016 at 8:54 am — Reply

    Not knowing or caring about the rules of a roundabout.

    • Off the beaten track
      November 7, 2016 at 9:04 pm — Reply

      That’s a common one in the country .A lot of drivers charge through roundabouts without even using a blinker-you’ve just got to get out of their way…

      My pet hate is meeting other drivers on narrow back country roads driving waaaay too fast who then proceed to shower my windscreen and bonnet with flying rocks as they scramble to the road’s edge .

      • Jane Speechley
        November 8, 2016 at 8:18 am — Reply

        Nothing worse than hearing that really solid little ‘whack’ and thinking, yep, that definitely took out a chunk of paint or glass …

  2. Andrew Nicholas
    November 7, 2016 at 11:59 am — Reply

    I agree with most of these – particularly The Incompetent Merger. But I have to disagree with Light Crawlers. Clearly I must disclose a bias – I am certainly one of these. But I don’t see the issue? Surely, if the traffic continues to flow it is a much better situation than people charging at full speed towards the lights; then breaking heavily; then waiting; then starting up again. Unless we are all doing a Top Gear challenge, I don’t believe the fuel saving comes into consideration. It is all about traffic flow.

    • Jane Speechley
      November 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm — Reply

      Maybe it’s just worse when they’re blocking entry to the turn lane, that kills me … definitely not a fan of the charge-and-brake, as per the Brake Testers above, that’s for sure!

  3. Dimitri
    November 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm — Reply

    The corner cutter! What is it with these drivers who insist that when turning right at an intersection, especially a T-intersection, they feel the need to try and remove your front end by cutting the corner?

    • Jane Speechley
      November 7, 2016 at 5:44 pm — Reply

      Oh, of course, the Corner Cutters! Hold my breath just waiting for the clip, every time …

    • Dean
      November 17, 2016 at 6:22 am — Reply

      There’s a natural tension between those and the corner peekers – stopped halfway over the line right in the centre while waiting to turn, forcing you to slalom around them…

  4. Monty
    November 7, 2016 at 1:42 pm — Reply

    Interesting the psychological effect of new technology. I find myself cruising up to stopped traffic because I don’t want the engine to stop if I can help it. If the traffic is heavy or the light cycle interminable, stop start works well. It’s the borderline that gets me.

    People merging at 80 k into a 100 k traffic stream. Happens all the time. And the 20 cars behind the slow mover are stuck with it. I am delighted to be retired. I do not miss peak hour traffic in the slightest.

    • Jane Speechley
      November 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm — Reply

      “It’s the borderline that gets me.” Exactly – and the stop, then wait a while, then roll forward a few feet .. and then everyone else has to do the same thing 🙂

  5. JohnGC
    November 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm — Reply

    I’m with you on the “much-too-nice”. I call them it “the good samaritan” and I had to stop behind one the other day as they let someone reverse out of a car space onto the road. If it was bumper-to-bumper fine, if they wanted to park in the space fine, but they didn’t and there was no one behind me and we could have passed them in 2 seconds instead of waiting 30 for them to gingerly reverse on to the road, give a grateful wave (enabling future samaritan behaviour) and proceed in front of us.

    • Jane Speechley
      November 7, 2016 at 5:45 pm — Reply

      Right? I feel like shouting ‘I don’t need your excess courtesy! I’ll settle for you just following the road rules!’ 😉

    • Dean
      November 17, 2016 at 6:20 am — Reply

      Yeah and the worst part is that you’d be in the wrong if the confusion led to a coming together. Or maybe it’s the instant undoing of all your kids’ road safety education…

  6. Dean
    November 17, 2016 at 6:26 am — Reply

    The right lane hogs, especially when they’re travelling under the limit, force you to break the law by undertaking them if you don’t want to take all day to get somewhere. That’s what I hate.
    Almost as bad are the speed creepers, who consciously or otherwise increase speed as you try to pass them – worst in overtaking lanes. Even more annoying when you know for a fact their car has cruise control!

  7. Dean
    November 17, 2016 at 6:28 am — Reply

    People who just don’t use their indicators, whether it’s drifting between lanes or actually coming to a stop for some mysterious reason. Just communicate so we know if you’re parking or having a heart attack!

  8. Dean
    November 17, 2016 at 6:48 am — Reply

    And “fat bergs” as written about before here. The ppl who never use the sidings to allow others past on slow windy roads

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Jane Speechley

Jane Speechley

Jane Speechley is an experienced freelance writer whose natural curiosity means she knows enough about cars to hold a decent conversation. While happily admitting her Toyota 86 makes promises her street driving can’t quite keep, she’s relishing the opportunity to review some of Australia’s most interesting new vehicles from an ‘everyperson’ perspective. She’s on a mission to understand and explain how all those features and gadgets actually impact upon your driving experience. http://www.charismaticcommunications.com.au