We see them every day, especially if we have to spend any time at all in traffic. They are inconsiderate. They are dangerous. They are inattentive. They are Houston's dumbest drivers and one man started a YouTube channel recently to highlight people behind the wheel in our car-obsessed city.
"I see a lot of crazy driving on my drive from Clear Lake to Downtown every single day," says Ian Henderson, a legal word processor who started the Houston's Dumbest Drivers channel in August after a discussion about road rage on Reddit. "I just wanted to start a channel to sort of publicly shame some of the erratic and sometimes downright scary driving tendencies that a lot of people complain about."
Henderson, 22, began collecting videos from willing participants and now has a handful of snippets of drivers going in reverse on city streets, driving the wrong way on a one-way roads and creating near misses with other drivers, all captured via mounted dashboard cameras. "I do not doubt the normal Houstonian driver's intelligence, rather the drop of intelligence once they get behind the wheel," he told us via e-mail, recounting a story of a Ford truck that flew past him this week doing way over the speed limit and nearly causing him to crash into another car. Unfortunately, his camera wasn't on at the time.
"The funny thing is that I haven't been able to contribute a single video since I started the channel," Henderson said. "It's like once I started recording my drives to and from work, all the stupid and dangerous things people do on the road seemed to disappear." At least while the camera was rolling.
Fortunately, he has fellow YouTube users to help provide him with footage and no shortage of bad drivers on the roadways.
He says he sees at least five or six accidents on his commute every day. Given the city's awful traffic mess during rush hour, it is not that startling of a revelation. He cites tailgating, going "outrageously fast," weaving in and out of traffic and not following some of the most basic rules of the road among the worst offenders.
Of course, Henderson, like the rest of us, knows one of the biggest problems on the road is the driver who refuses to put down his cell phone. "You have no idea how many times I've seen people nearly wreck because they were texting while driving," he said. One study found that 23 percent of all accidents in 2011 were involved cell phones, a startling number, which is why there have been numerous public awareness campaigns and laws passed to prevent texting or surfing the web while driving.
Henderson hopes the YouTube channel is a wake up call to locals who don't think before they do something stupid behind the wheel. "I was raised to believe that driving is not your right, it is a privilege given to you," he said, reminding Houstonians, "You never know who may be recording your behavior."
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.