Driving

Obeying the Law

In places in the US there is a 55mph speed limit. This limit is routinely broken. (According to the Wikipedia article, the limit should be higher - perhaps this is referring to one perimeter road?) To illustrate the absurdity of having a law which is not enforced, these students made a film where they obeyed the law.

As the man pointed out. Going at 75mph is accepted, going at 80mph gets you booked for being 25mph over. Surely it's better to have a law that's enforced and understood - so the point they're making is 'move the limit up'.

The reason for the 55mph limit originally was a fuel economy measure following the OPEC crisis in the 1970s. Whilst this is a good motive, it isn't a valid reason when at the same time cars in demand with incredibly low fuel economy (yes, SUV owner - that means you!)

It's interesting that in the film, to avoid people being angry the guy was pretending to use his cellphone - this would just inflame people in the UK!

My driving test

Well, I've just taken my driving test (was it number four or number five, I've lost count) and unfortunately I have failed yet again. I failed on three things:

1) Very early on in the test, a mistimed signal approaching a roundabout (there was a side road on the right before the roundabout and I signalled well before that - I didn't even see this road, which is rather bad of me);

2) Approaching an oncoming car, there was a parked car in front of me. I slowed down too late and I stopped far too close to it, which I realised was wrong but by then it was too late;

3) On a large roundabout near the end of the test, my lane discipline went to pot and I cut across into the lane to my right and in front of a car in this lane turning right. I wasn't aware of this until the examiner told me, which worries me. By this time I wanted the test to be over.

I assumed I had failed because I thought I had stalled three times, but the examiner only put me down for one clutch control fault. I'm pleased that, although I did get particularly nervous a couple of times, I managed not to be afflicted by "left leg shake" (which is really horrible, I can tell you) and generally managed to keep the gas going (which has been a problem in previous tests). There were a couple of times when I almost stalled but managed to recover. I had twelve minor faults (with a maximum of fifteen permitted and no more than two of any particular fault).

My examiner, by the way, was the least favourite one I've had. He had absolutely no personality and refused to talk at all, except to give instructions. He had a really annoying way of saying my name, the last syllable of which he uttered a crescendo: Mon-i-caaaa! He also kept repeating his instructions as if I hadn't heard or wasn't obeying him as quickly as he wanted. For example, after I had pulled up next to the kerb, he asked me to "pull away when you're ready, Mon-i-caaaa", then repeated these words two seconds later, making me feel rushed. Hope I don't get him again!

I don't feel completely spaced out after this test, which is also good. My swim after work last night must have helped to keep me calm and certained got me off to sleep earlier than usual. My instructor is suggesting that I book a lunchtime test slot next time and go for a swim in the morning - not sure about this, as I don't know if I can face eating lunch before my test but will get very hungry (and risk feeling hot and dizzy due to low blood sugar) if I don't.

Skimble the cat is now walking all over the desk and making it rather difficult to type! I'm going to chuck her off, rebook my test straight away so I don't prevaricate, have some lunch and go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

More Stupid Drivers

The stupid drivers are out in force. I went out today to a nearby town. The usual route home was busy so I came out a different way and got lost, no great problem.

I followed my nose home, and found myself going down some country lanes.

I got stuck behind two learner horseriders being trailed by a brown estate car going slow. The estate was obviously there to ensure people gave the horses a wide berth.

Now, this was at a blind left turn (in the UK we drive on the left). Visibility was only a metre or two beyond the horses, not enough to overtake horses safely, especially at an extra low speed and an extra wide berth to account for the learner status of the riders.

The person in the estate wound down their window and beckoned me to overtake - I'm shaking my head - 'no'. They keep beckoning.

I hate other people trying to drive my car for me. Flashing lights and so on. I'll go when *I* can see it is safe to do so, not when the other guy says it's safe. I'm extra glad I didn't do it as some cars come the other way and I would have had a head on crash. Only after I saw the cars did they stop beckoning and indicate 'stop', then they immediately started to beckon again.

Idiot estate driver.

The estate driver had absolutely NO business beckoning me past, I appreciated the fact that they stayed as far left as they could to give me maximum visibility, but they had no place waving at me - especially in a situation where if I'd have followed their 'advice' I would have been dead.

I don't know if this is slightly worse than the people who leave a gap then start flashing their lights stupidly at you when you don't immediately move into it (and plough over the cyclist they haven't seen).

Golden rule: I appreciate other drivers trying to be considerate, but at the end of the day I am the one who must make decisions about my car's direction and speed - make allowances for others, but drive your own car, people!

More Inconsiderateness

Yet more inconsiderate driving. On my way into work, a drive I must have done a few thousand times - I was trailed by a prize plonker. Let me explain the situation.

I travel in on a dual carriageway. This splits into two single lane roads. The left road soon jams up with traffic, the right road is fairly free moving (until about a quarter of a mile after the split). For non UKians, we drive on the left.

Now, I have this down to a fine art. I know that the right hand road will become a traffic jam a little while further on. Therefore I travel at a constant speed, keeping a good gap with the guy in front. The gap is not too long (a few truck lengths), but it's long enough so that if he decides to jump into the queue of traffic at short notice, or if he decides to turn left down a side street once the road splits then he'll just be gone by the time I get there.

The guy in front is braking and accelerating as he is at the end of a moving queue. He is, however, going at the same average speed as me so I'm not lane hogging. Indeed, if I went faster I'd have to be slaming on the brakes myself.

The guy behind me can see this. He can see the traffic in front. He can see that the gap is not increasing. He can see the stationary traffic on the left leaving me nowhere to go to let him past to tailgate the next guy.

So why is it that he was two feet from my bumper and swearing at me? If I closed the cap I'd have been travelling at the same rate, but with much less room to brake. I'd have been a car sandwich in the event of an accident.

More than this, by the time we get to the junctions which take cars away from what is now a single lane road, the car in front was in the stationary traffic, just about to get to the junction, and I had caught it up.

Even if I'd sat on his bumper we'd have still reached that point at the same time.... and I knew this, driving that route every day, knowing the gap to achieve this result. I'd much rather move continuously, than move fast with lots of stops - continuous flow also reduces the chances of traffic jams.

Though there are two minor turn offs before this point, these are side roads to residential areas, not thoroughfares.

Therefore the guy behind arrived at his first real opportunity to turn off having tailgated me, no later than he would have done had I tailgated the guy in front and with a sore throat and achey finger for hurling abuse.

Idiot.