Finally saying good-bye to a 50 minute commute in rush hour traffic I thought I would reflect on the minority of drivers who rely on the rest of us to protect them from their own stupidity. We all have to anticipate the ridiculous manoeuvres in order to avoid accidents. For example, the other day pulling away from traffic lights the car behind me drove the wrong side of the traffic light island to overtake me. Fortunately there wasn’t anyone coming in the other direction and I responded quickly enough to get out of his way and nothing untoward happened but was it necessary? I pulled up alongside him at the next set of traffic lights!
I don’t understand why people break the speed limit – do they think the speed limit doesn’t apply to them? Or are they just arrogant and think their driving is far superior and therefore they can drive safely above the speed limit even if something unpredictable happened? The truth of it is that driving faster is dangerous – the limit is there to protect everyone. As a general rule, if the road is clear I’ll drive at the speed limit but I often have a tailgater and a stream of cars behind me, obviously dying to go faster – I fear annoying them and causing road rage but the speed limit has been chosen by people who know the road and its history more than I do so I’m not going to go faster just because I want to or because I don’t want to annoy other people.
Now I’m not saying I’m a saint of a driver, I have done the speed awareness course along with many others who just happened to get caught…concentrating more on the road than on the precise position of my speedometer needle. I learnt a lot about the dangers of speed and other aspects of road safety and highly recommend the course (not suggesting someone gets caught speeding deliberately!). There are however, people out there who know where all the speed cameras are, they speed along and slam their brakes on for the camera. Something else that really bothers me is people speeding through roadworks – why do these people think there is a restricted limit? Because you need time to admire the worksite? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s for the safety of the workers – they’re literally risking their lives to fix the road, repair utility lines etc. Speeding is potentially dangerous and downright disrespectful!
Today I saw one of the worst pieces of driving I think I’ve even seen. A lorry was up ahead with 3 cars between it and me. Going down a 50mph road, the lorry was travelling about 45/50mph. The car 2 behind the lorry decided to overtake, not just the car but also the lorry on what looked to me like a blind bend – I had to assume they could see more than I could but 2 things happened that confirmed my fear. Firstly the overtaking car slowed and accelerated several times within the manoeuvre and had to pull very sharply in front of the lorry before a car (presumably going about 50mph) came in the opposite direction and secondly the car in front of me slowed down significantly, suggesting they anticipated an accident!
I guess saying “Hi boss, sorry I’m late…but I tried my best…I sped through amber traffic lights and did some dangerous overtaking” sounds so much better than “…sorry I’m late but I got out of bed late and didn’t leave myself enough time to get here”. Personally I’d just rather get out of bed and give myself plenty of time to do my journeys. In fact I like having time to enjoy the ride. Driving mindfully does not only increase safety but it has proven health benefits! I am very glad to be saying good-bye to driving every day in rush hour – watch out for another blog my new cycling commute!
For a little chuckle, find Old lady driver on my stories page!