July 22nd, 2010

Summer driving school

It’s summer. That means country road blasts with the windows down, dry tarmac, and lush green views. It’s just a shame, though, that there is always something or someone to ruin sunny drives.

Unless you leave at 5am, just as dawn breaks, there’s very little chance of your road trip going smoothly thanks to sheep, or tractors, or people attempting to drive with dementia, or cyclists riding nine-abreast. Or trucks, or road works, or utterly pointless 50mph zones that stretch light-years to ‘protect’ the single solitary workman who is on his lunch break in a Caterpillar crane the size of Jupiter.

Yes, this week, my column has started with little more than a rant; a lowdown of annoyances, some silly, some sensible. Just so you know, I’m not aggressive; I don’t tailgate people, flash at them to get out of the way, beep at them, or flip them the bird. In fact, I’m quite a defensive driver; years of motorbike riding does that to you. Every other road user, whether they’re on a bicycle or in a 30 ton truck, has as much right to use the road as you, me or anyone else (as long as they’re insured of course!) But the annoying thing is that some people can be completely and utterly inconsiderate, self centred and careless…

Take sheep for example. Obviously they are stupid by nature and shouldn’t be categorised alongside people. I live in the Yorkshire Dales and find the best way to deal with them is to presume that no matter where they are, even if they’re up a mountain 500 yards away, that they will walk in front of your car. Without question. That way, when they inevitably do, you’re prepared.

Another thing you need to be wary of is the moron driving the BMW X5 behind you. He will flash his headlights so you get out of his way while you’re travelling 51 in a 50mph average checked zone, however, he can wait. Let him flash, beep, curse, and otherwise be a degenerate. You should just carry on with your driving, and then get out of his way when you can. Calmly. Smile to yourself that one day, he’ll probably get a ban, and then you won’t have to see him again.

It’s the same story with everyone else. If you can pass slow moving machines safely, then go for it, but don’t get angry, aggressive, or irritable, because if you do that, then you’re the bad driver, not them. It takes a few seconds to go from the model driver to angry or irritated, and then a few seconds more to make a rash decision that kills you or someone else. So as easy as it is to blame all of the problems on other road users for being too slow, or to shout about the road works or wildlife, it’s really all up to you to be safe and to enjoy yourself…

Have a good Summer!

John Slavin