For a number of years I’ve often thought that the police and motoring authorities could easily implement a new regulation that could help cut a portion of bad driving out on the roads.
We all know speeding is illegal, as is drink driving and now so is using a mobile phone whilst driving. We also know this still doesn’t stop some people putting others at risk. I often see school run mums in big 4×4’s with phones glued to their ears while their precious children are in the back. I’ve seen bus drivers texting, and even a fuel tanker driver eating food from a Tupperware container with a fork. I’m not going to make out I’m perfect though, I was once caught doing 34mph in a 30 limit and was ordered to go on a speed awareness course. I was in the wrong and accepted my punishment. Which is more than can be said for the lady on my course who was adamant it was ok to be doing more than 55mph in a 30 limit because she was going to visit her father in hospital even though she admitted he wasn’t dying. My point here though is that people should know better yet still don’t act on it.
So when a news story breaks today of a fatal accident on the M1 in which an 87 year old male car driver and a 27 year old male van passenger were killed in a head on collision caused by the car driver driving the wrong way down the motorway, I wondered, Is it about time elderly drivers were made to take some form of annual test to see if they are still fit to drive. I’ve thought this for a while now. Currently it’s up to a driver to decide when they are unfit to drive and to surrender their licence. The police now have the power to suspend a licence too but this would usually be after an accident has occurred. Why lock the stable door after the horse has bolted? I would have thought that if you paid just a small amount of attention to your driving, then it’s impossible to drive the wrong way on a motorway or dual carriageway, even at night. If you are at a point where you get so confused you accidently do this, then you are an extremely dangerous driver and should not be behind the wheel.
I have nothing against the older generation at all and I know many are capable drivers. But let’s face it, on the stubbornness scale, the elderly can give the teenagers a run for their money. So it can be difficult to even suggest surrendering a driving licence to someone as we all know how difficult it would be do give up a large portion of your independence. But we all know health deteriorates as we get older and reactions slow. It’s only natural. You often hear older people say they can do certain things anymore, but they still think they are capable of driving a car which can kill if used incorrectly.
I’m not suggesting anything hugely severe or disproportionate for a test. I don’t want to be accused of discrimination either, even though all young drivers and Audi drivers are often tarred with the same brush. My suggestion would perhaps be from the age of 75, a session, which should be compulsory but free of charge, maybe every 2-3 years with an instructor or examiner as a passenger who just assesses awareness and reactions. Perhaps also some form of presentation similar to a speed awareness course highlighting the dangers or slow reactions and poor awareness to make people think properly about their ability to drive. I’ll be honest, I found the speed awareness course I went on quite informative and interesting. Also, Doctors and GP’s need to be more willing to report a patient to the authorities if they feel that person should not be driving. So surely if something like this was in place and just one life was saved as a result then it has to be a good thing right? Unfortunately it’s too late for the family and friends of the 27 year old who innocently passed away today.
In an age when driving tests are becoming increasingly difficult to pass, insurance premiums rocketing for young drivers and even possible restrictions put on them, maybe it’s time to look at the older driver too. I know you will never stop all accidents but everyone needs to be responsible behind the wheel. Whether that is putting down your mobile phone, not driving home from the pub after a couple of beers, or thinking ‘My eyesight is getting really bad, I ought to stop driving’. Some people just need a bit of reminding that they aren’t quite as capable of doing things they used to.
I know giving up your independence can be hard but what is more important, that independence or someone else’s life?
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.