I’m not sure if the man was ignorant of traffic laws, felt like playing chicken, wanted to be a bully behind the wheel or simply had a death wish.

Regardless, it was both the most brazen and the most idiotic purposeful act I’ve ever witnessed a person perform behind the wheel on a public highway. That’s really saying something, because I’ve been driving long enough to have seen a lot of really incredible stupidity.

I was not in a very tolerant mood anyway. Diane and I were taking a critically injured cat to the West Toledo Animal Hospital, and the poor girl was so badly hurt we didn’t know if she would survive the trip. Since Diane was holding the cat I was trying to drive smoothly so as not to make her injuries even worse.

We were following I-475 East toward downtown Toledo, at the U.S. 23 split. I was in the left lane, and traffic from U.S. 23 was merging from the left. The right shoulder of the road was closed for constructions, so traffic was moving a bit slower than normal and was bunched together. I was behind one tractor-trailer rig and another was to my right, with an SUV close behind me.

As I was boxed in a small blue car came roaring up from the on ramp to the left, merging from U.S. 23. Although I had the right of way and had no room to spare front, rear or side this driver was trying to force me out of the way, actually driving on the shoulder trying to cut in front of me. I would gladly have slowed to let him in, but I didn’t dare brake as the SUV was close on my tail so I maintained my lane and hoped the idiot in the blue car would not ram me.

I don’t know how he did it, but the insane driver managed to get in behind me, barely missing my rear bumper and the front bumper of the SUV. Within seconds he hit the gas and cut off the semi beside me, then darted back ahead of the rig ahead of me, and soon disappeared.

Even today, almost a month later, I can still see that blue car’s fender about three inches from my front driver’s side.

My observation about the lunatic having a death wish seems to be right on. If he keeps driving like that he will get his wish sooner rather than later. The sad truth is, though, he probably will take out some innocent people with him.

Years ago I lived in Toledo, during college and for a while after. I know the city well and am used to driving there, and I have noticed that Toledo drivers in general are getting more and more aggressive especially on the interstates.

It’s not just Toledo, though. They seem to be getting worse everywhere. A few days after my blue car idiot incident I was nearing my driveway on U.S. 127, on my way home from Sauder Village. A car was zooming up from behind, so I flipped on my turn signal earlier than normal as a warning.

I was amazed as this idiot kept up his speed, then pulled into the blind oncoming lane to shoot around me. Our house is on a ridge, so this driver could not see if anyone was coming as he entered the marked no passing zone. All that risk, the chance of killing or maiming himself or someone else, simply to save having to slow down for a few seconds behind someone who is turning.

Simply stunning.

Now that sunset is coming earlier and earlier I’m noting that the tendency of oncoming drivers to fail to dim their lights as they approach is continuing to get worse. It doesn’t help that newer headlights are brighter than ever. What really gets me is when I give a quick flip of my brights as a simple reminder, and the oncoming fool dims the lights for a bit and then hits the brights right in my face while only a few yard away.

And don’t even get me going about the large pickup trucks that tailgate smaller vehicles and seem intent on forcing you to go faster. I am by no means a slow driver, yet I still have to endure this – and it’s especially bad after dark, when they blind you with their headlights feet behind your back window.

Unfortunately this aggressive, selfish driving is simply a symptom of our declining societal decency, such as the in-your-face bullying and insulting brand of politics that has become all the rage. My thoughts on that, however, can stand as a column all on its own.

About all I can do about the death defying drivers we all must dodge is have hope that the netherworld has a very warm place set aside just for them, just down the road.

Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.

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