We all know a bit of snow brings our country to its knees and chaos breaks out as people switch into blind panic mode. Never is this more noticeable than on the roads. All form of rational thought behind the wheel seems to disappear with the appearance of Snow and Ice and unsurprisingly the media is adorned with images of car accidents. Whilst I appreciate the driving conditions can be tricky and many roads go untreated so the risk of accidents will be increased and some cannot be avoided. But sadly, with the increased risk, there is no increase in sensible driving.
Today I drove into work on untreated roads. I had to make a few detours as my car struggled to grip up some hills so I tried to take busy routes that weren’t completely covered in snow. This was difficult at times as my route to work is predominantly back roads, but after an hour’s journey that usually takes me 15-20 minutes I arrived. I was the only one there. I live the furthest from work but made it in without major issue despite knowing that the golf course I work at will be closed and there wouldn’t be anything for me to do there anyway. I waited for a few hours and still no sign of anyone so I came home again. But whilst on the road it became very apparent that many drivers give no regard to the adverse conditions on the road and then blame the weather when they crash.
There are many cars driving around covered in snow with just the windscreen cleared. I saw some that had the side and back windows still covered and not even all of the snow cleared off of the windscreen. This is ridiculously dangerous. You need to see as much as possible, even more so in poor conditions. You can’t even see your mirrors in these conditions. Also, with snow on your roof, that can slide down and cover your windscreen so you can’t see a thing causing a danger to yourself and others. People still have lights covered too. Lights are there for a reason. For others to see you as well as for you to see the road ahead if needed. They are no use when they are covered in snow and dangerous when people can’t see your indicators or brake lights. Also, number plates are covered. What makes you think it is acceptable to drive around with effectively no number plate? Number plates are there for a reason and it is illegal to have them obscured or not visible. Clear all snow off of your car before driving. It is dangerous to yourself and others to not do so. We all know our county is obsessed with the weather and I’m sure you can’t wait to show people at work how much snow you had because it is all piled high on your vehicle, but no one at work will see it when it is stuck in a ditch or being recovered after you hit something pretty solid that you didn’t see.
I have an annoyance of people who drive around with their fog lights. Section 226 in the Driving in Adverse Conditions section of the Highway code states: “You MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 meters (328 feet). You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves (see Rule 236). Law RVLR regs 25 & 27” Some seem to think that snow means they must use fog lights. Why? Yes there is snow about but you can still see more that 100 meters so turn them off you ignorant idiot.
Another thing that annoys me in winter conditions is the amount of people who seem to think that because they have a 4×4 vehicle that snow and ice doesn’t affect them and therefore will drive around in the same way as normal. Ice will affect any vehicle regardless. Let’s face it, a lot of Chelsea Tractors that School run mums use are barely any better in muddy conditions than your average car and ground clearance isn’t much better so why people think Ice is no issue is beyond me. With this comes the worrying opinion that Wide Tyres are best in snow and ice. Since when? A basic grasp of physics and common sense will tell you this is totally wrong. Yes, I wide tyre is good on tarmac as there is a wider contact point to give more grip, but in ice there is nothing to grip. A narrow tyre means more weight on a smaller contact point allowing the tyre to cut through the ice better. Why do you think Rally Cars use very narrow tyres during Snow Rallies? This of course does not mean you can fit narrow tyres to your car and can continue to drive like an idiot however.
Finally, I noticed a number of people today driving ridiculously fast for the conditions. I drove a steady 30mph on the roads that weren’t too bad but there were still icy patches about and I was considerably slower on the snow covered smaller roads. Even then my car slid about a bit and the last thing I wanted was to skid down some of the hills. Yet there were still people catching me up and worse still sitting on my bumper! I also passed a Van and a Vauxhall Corsa in the opposite direction doing about 60mph. If you skid on ice at a slow speed and hit something then chances are you will walk away unscathed. Skid on Ice at 60mph and that telegraph pole you are heading towards is going to kill you. Are you really that desperate to get into work? Leave the high speed snow driving to the Rally professionals. Even they make mistakes too though.
I know not everyone is perfect, including myself, but if everyone took a bit more care and used a bit more common sense in these conditions, the roads would be a bit safer. I don’t care if you crash your car driving like an idiot. I just don’t want you take me, or anyone else with you when you do.
We all think we are the best driver in the world when we get behind the wheel, but let’s be honest, we aren’t. In fact, I don’t think anyone can claim to be the perfect driver, but there is a chance that there are worse drivers on our roads than you. I like you will be annoyed by a number of habits from other drivers, so here are the things that really annoy me about fellow motorists.
Fog Lights: Whilst driving at night you will no doubt see a number of cars with their fog lights on. You may well have noticed it is more often than not cars of German origin or Chav’s in their Mums Fiesta that are mostly responsible for this. Why do people believe it is acceptable to drive with fog lights on? They do not make you go faster and you do not look cool. You look like an arse. On the flip side, why, when conditions are bad enough to actually warrant fog lights do people not use them? If visibility is less than 100 meters, then you can and should use your fog lights. Only then is it acceptable. When visibility is more than 100 meters the fog lights are no longer needed.
Full beam headlights: Obviously I don’t discourage full beam headlights, and most people will dip them when faced with oncoming traffic. We all know that is the correct and accepted procedure. So why, for the love of god why, do some people believe it is acceptable to use full beam headlights on a dual carriageway or motorway? They are not needed as there are no sharp bends approaching and they still blind drivers on the opposite carriageway. Also, the drivers in front can still be dazzled from the reflection of your lights in their mirrors. So pack it in, full beam lights are unnecessary on motorways.
Middle Lane Hogs: A huge bug bare for many people. Drivers who think it is ok to hold traffic up by driving in the middle or right hand lane on dual carriageways or motorways. If you are not overtaking anyone then use the left hand lane. You will notice that these days, the left hand lane is often a lot clearer as people seem to be allergic to using it. People who hold others up in this way are the biggest cause of congestion on British roads. Also, if you are one of the many people who don’t use the left hand lane when not overtaking, every single driver stuck behind you whilst you effectively block two lanes will be swearing loudly and calling you every name under the sun. You wouldn’t like this to aggravate people in a social situation so don’t do it on the roads. Move over, let people past, use the left lane when it is clear and be safe in the knowledge you are helping ease congestion on Britain’s busy roads.
Lorry’s Overtaking: Here is a simple test, if two vehicles are restricted to the same maximum speed, which one is fastest? Answer, neither. Some lorry drivers don’t seem to understand this. Yes, some HGV’s do travel at different speeds and overtaking the slower one is acceptable. What is not acceptable is trying to overtake a vehicle that is travelling at the same speed as you are. I don’t want to be stuck behind two lorries side by side for 30 miles whilst one tries to overtake the other and neither do the hundreds of drivers in the cars that have now stacked up behind the impromptu head to head. Please Lorry drivers, if another lorry is attempting an overtake which is likely to last three days, just ease off the accelerator very slightly to let him pass you. A lot of drivers would be very grateful.
Entry and Exit from Slip roads: This should be an easy task. You use the slip road to build up speed to match that of traffic currently on the dual carriageway or motorway. By joining the carriageway at the same speed of existing traffic, you can filter in safely and avoid causing others to brake heavily. Why do some people think that braking and slowing down whilst joining is a good idea? It is putting people’s lives at risk as they quickly become a sitting duck waiting for someone to plough into them or ready to cause a massive pile up as traffic at 70mph try to take avoiding action. If you haven’t got the balls to join a carriageway at a safe speed, please kindly resist from driving. Likewise, the slip road is also there to provide you with a safe area to slow down for the upcoming junction whilst exiting a carriageway. Unless the slip road is blocked with excessive traffic, do not, I repeat do not, brake and slow down before exiting onto a slip road unless you want a vehicle to make a surprise appearance on your back seat.
Incorrect indicating at roundabouts: Again this should be a simple affair, yet a lot of people cannot seem to comprehend it. If you are going to use a roundabout but cannot use your indicators in the correct manner, then just refrain from using them at all. That way, if you aren’t indicating, other road users won’t know where you are going to exit and will just wait for you to get out of the way. If you do indicate incorrectly, don’t be surprised when a vehicle appears lodged in the side of yours as they might have assumed you were going in the direction you were indicating.
Mirror Signal Manoeuvre: This is probably the first thing taught to you by your driving instructor. That is assuming you had a driving instructor. The premise is simple. Before undergoing a manoeuvre such as turning off at a junction, you check your mirrors and windows around the car to make sure the situation is safe, you signal by using your indicator as a way of letting other drivers know what you intend to do, and then start your manoeuvre by applying your brakes to slow down and finally using the steering wheel to turn. Some drivers like to encourage abuse by simply missing out the mirror and signal bit, and then wonder why other road users seem to get upset. This situation can be avoided by remembering the three basic steps above.
Baby On Board: Some drivers like to make others aware they have a baby or small child on board by displaying the fact with a sign in the back window hoping that other road users will be that little bit more cautious around them. This is of course fine, as most parents are rightly concerned about their child’s welfare. However, this theory will only work if the driver of the car displaying said sign stops driving like an idiot. Recently I was cut up on two consecutive roundabouts by a woman who was displaying a baby on board sign. If she wants people to drive sensibly near her, then she needs to understand that she too needs to drive sensibly and understand she is more likely to risk her child’s safety than others are. The yellow sign is not a pass to do what the hell you please and expect other road users to respect that.
Constant Speed Drivers: It really annoys me when I get stuck behind someone driving at 40mph in a national speed limit. It then annoys me further when I slowdown for a 30mph speed limit to see the car in front disappear ahead. It then annoys me to the point of abuse hurling, when I exit the 30mph speed limit and accelerate up to 60mph, only to then find myself stuck behind the same car again trundling along at the constant speed of 40mph.
Driving down the middle of small roads: My route to work takes me down a small road that, for a large section of it, has no road markings. This isn’t a problem as the road is wide enough for two cars to pass easily. However, I pass a number of drivers, mainly women in big unnecessary 4×4’s who seem to think the road was build solely for them and insist on driving down the middle. In the process I am therefore forced into the hedge to avoid having the offside of my car ripped off at the expense of having my nearside scratched by hedges or damaged by other common roadside objects. Much like the left hand lane of a motorway, that spare strip of tarmac on your nearside is available for use. Please do so and avoid forcing other road users into potentially hazardous roadside objects.
Hazard lights: These are there to warn other road users of upcoming hazards such as traffic braking heavily or an accident ahead. They are not available as a tool to enable you to park where the hell you like. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to park on double yellow lines, at junctions, on blind bends, blind crests, four feet from the kerb and other areas that cause danger to others. By putting your hazard lights on doesn’t then make stopping in these areas safe and acceptable. If I can’t find a correct and safe place to park I will continue to look for a place where I can. I will not just stop in the road opposite the place I want to go to, block in other parked cars and feel it is acceptable to do so because I’ve put my hazard lights on. Also, those flashing orange lights are not a deterrent to Traffic Wardens. You have been warned!
Here endeth my rant.
Feel free to comment on things that annoy you about about other drivers.