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May 31, 2006

Driving issues

One of my brothers in law drives a lot. My son drives a lot and in time past I used to drive big red lorries (as well as other things) a lot. I no longer get much pleasure out of driving, mainly because it is (a) a chore, and (b) there are too many complete morons on the road. In driving big red lorries at sometimes rather high speeds, I managed to always arrive in one piece and to avoid hitting anything on the way. That isn't to say there weren't some very hairy moments - there were - but it did teach me to expect the driver in front to be totally irrational when faced by a mirror full of red grill and flashing lights. That is assuming he could use a mirror and could hear the siren and bell, later three tone klaxon and still later the electronic yelp system.

As an accident investigator at one point in my career, I was always amazed by the number of motorists who claimed they did not hear the appliance as it came up behind them. Invariably you then discovered that they had a radio or hi-fi system turned well up and the windows closed. On one occassion an appliance was hit as it went through an intersection on a GREEN signal, the motorist having run the RED. OK, we did have control of the traffic signals from the Control Room, but they didn't change that fast! This guy's excuse later to the police - after the crew on the damaged appliance had cut him out of the wreck of his GTi - was that he'd seen the light change but thought it would cycle back to green for him as he got to it. Yep, the court thought so to! Or not, the magistrate was not very sympathetic.

What made me think of this? Well, I was recently cut up by a clown on my way to work. Now I would be the first to admit that I drive to the limit and get annoyed by the "10 miles an hour under the speed limit brigade", so I was going steadily at the limit, when this guy sailed past on a blind rise a fair bit over the speed limit (you can tell - if he makes you feel that you've slowed down to park, that is!) and immediately had to brake hard and slew into the gap between me and a small van ahead of me to avoid the oncoming juggernaut. I can now smugly say that I had seen both - again driving emergency vehicles teaches you to observe the traffic three or four vehicles ahead if you can - so I was ready when he slammed on his brakes to avoid tailending the van. He only just made it. A hundred yards on he braked frantically again as he almost missed the turn to where he wanted to go.

Driving around the countryside these days is a real lottery. I don't mind the tractors, I don't mind the occassional harvester, and I quite enjoy the odd steam traction engine belting along at all of twelve miles an hour if he's in a hurry, but I do get annoyed by the assorted Grockles, Grommits and Lookattatters who insist on cruising around at town speeds when you are trying to get to work. These are the people who speed up so you can't pass where the road is safe to do so and slow right down for corners and any bend. They can turn a 45 minute trip into an hour and a half. And they always travel in convoys!

Ah well, at least I get to live around here permanently, they only visit, but I do wish motor manufacturers would try to get the major defect all these motorist's cars have, and which affects every make of car when that type of person buys it, fixed.

Will somebody please sort out the rear view mirrors so they can see the tail they're pulling? Or better yet, create some sort of grapnel so I can hook onto the inevitable tow hitch they always seem to have, and kill my engine so I don't waste fuel grinding down through the gears while I'm stuck behind them!

Posted by The Gray Monk at May 31, 2006 03:21 PM

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Amen, Amen, Amen.

Gorse Fox has often wondered whether an RPG lancher would be considered extreme? It would certainly be satisfying to clear the road of these people who believe a) because they have nothing to do and are in no hurry to do it, neither does anyone else; or b) they are immune from the laws of physics and have some magic button that will allow them to dematerialize in the face of oncoming traffic.

Mmmm, it might be extreme.... but it would be fair.

Posted by: Gorse Fox at May 31, 2006 06:30 AM

Personally I want one of those Star Wars type Plasma Cannon. The thought of arriving with some smoke stains where I have driven through the expanding cloud of ionised vapour as their vehicles were atomised holds a certain appeal!

Posted by: The Gray Monk at May 31, 2006 01:33 PM