Friday, 9 January 2009

Annoying Things People Do 1: on the road

OK, if I had a rocket launcher attached to my bike, some of these people would be in big trouble!

At the top of my Hit List are those jerks who behave badly in overtaking lanes. Their top two crimes are:

• Hogging the overtaking lane when they’re actually slower than the traffic in the “slow” lane. There are plenty of roadside signs telling them that they should keep left unless overtaking, and that there are fines (in excess of $110!) for doing what they’re doing. But of course, I don’t know that anyone has ever been caught and fined for it. You’d probably have to do it to a police car – and for some reason road users start to do the right thing as soon as they catch a glimpse of a police car. Mind you, it’s not quite so annoying if you can simply move back into the left lane, overtake them - or should that be “undertake”? - and continue on your way. That’s often the case out on the open road. In urban traffic, though, it drives me mental.

Why do they do it? I think often it’s because they know that at some point they will want to make a right hand turn. But that point may be 10kms down the road. Aaaaargh! Or maybe it’s a power trip. It’s often 4WD vehicles that do it – they’re bigger, so they can sit anywhere on the road that they damned well please. Other frequent offenders are girls in small cars with frangipani stickers on the rear window, and Toll Priority courier vans. I guess they think that the word “Priority” on their van means they have first dibs on the overtaking lane, even if they’re going slower than a snail on Valium.

• Deliberately stopping anybody else from overtaking. Now that is definitely a power trip. You know the scenario – there’s a long line of traffic stuck behind a slow-moving truck on, say, the Pacific Highway heading up towards the north coast of NSW, or the Monaro Highway between Canberra and Cooma. Long straight roads with a fair bit of traffic on them. You’ve been waiting for the next overtaking lane for the last 5kms, right? So eventually an overtaking lane begins, and one inconsiderate bastard flies into the lane, races up to the slow-moving truck, sits right next to it until the overtaking lane is about to end, and then pulls in front of it and usually slows down to a speed slower than the slow-moving truck is doing. It’s the driver’s revenge on the truck for having held him up for the last 5kms, but the moron forgets about (or perhaps just doesn’t give a rat’s arse about) the other poor suckers he’s just doomed to another 5kms of crawling along. Is it any wonder road rage is on the increase?

Next on the list are the people who give Junior a driving lesson out on the Monaro Highway – or anywhere else, for that matter, where the speed limit is higher than 80kmh and there is a dearth of places to overtake. Learner drivers in NSW are limited to 80kmh, so even if the limit on the road is 100-110kmh, they hold up the rest of the traffic until an overtaking lane appears and one miserable inconsiderate bastard flies into the lane, races up – oh, there’s that moron again!

Here’s a clue for those “responsible” licensed supervisors/parents – get Junior to pull over and let the traffic past before somebody snaps and does something stupid. I can almost hear them sitting in the passenger seat: It’s ok dear, don’t you let them bully you – you have as much right to be on the road as they do. No, no, stand your ground, and don’t you go a skerrick over 80. How are you going to feel if Junior stands his or her ground and someone gets killed? I narrowly avoided certain death on that road one day when Junior stood his ground. Junior was at the head of a long line of oncoming traffic, being a good little L-plater and sticking to his 80kmh limit. There were maybe 15 cars stuck behind him. All of a sudden, an impatient and inconsiderate bastard in a blue car near the end of the line decided he wasn’t going to sit there for another second. He gunned his motor and roared into my lane. I slowed right down and pulled onto the shoulder of the road – yes, I actually had to get off the road to avoid being killed by this moron. He was flying to the head of the queue at warp speed, and guess what – none of the other miserable inconsiderate bastards were going to let him back into the long, slow caterpillar simply so he could avoid killing a law-abiding motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction. (picture little thought bubbles coming out of their collective heads: HA! We’ll show him!) By the time he flew past me (in my recently vacated lane) he still had 2 or 3 cars to overtake.

My own personal justice meter can’t decide who was more at fault – the stubborn little learner driver who held people up long enough that the impatient inconsiderate bastard lost his cool and behaved stupidly; the impatient inconsiderate bastard in the blue car who would’ve killed me, or the miserable inconsiderate bastards who refused to let him back into the line when they realised disaster was imminent. I think they should all share the responsibility – but as the one who would’ve been dead, I wouldn’t have had much say in it.

There’s a special room in hell set aside for 4WD drivers who find it absolutely impossible to stay in their lane on a twisty road. They straddle the centre line and fly through the twisties, having a marvellous time and forgetting that there may be oncoming traffic that needs the lane they are currently hogging half of.

Then of course there are the people who:
• Take forever to pull away from traffic lights. The sequence goes something like this. Light goes green. Driver sees it go green. Driver realises it is green. Driver contemplates moving. Driver begins the release hand brake/engage correct gear/accelerate away from lights sequence. Then the driver behind him starts the process afresh.

• Tailgate. There’s something about a tailgater that makes me very twitchy as a motorcyclist.

• Insist on getting in front of you and then slowing down.

• Race up to a corner and engage their brakes at the last possible nanosecond, so you’re not sure whether they’re actually going to stop or pull out in front of you. That’s a behaviour that can cause a UCM (Undie Changing Moment) for a motorcyclist.

• Apply make-up, talk on the phone, change CDs, read the paper, eat their bloody breakfast while they’re driving.

• Throw lit cigarettes out of the window. Quite apart from the fire hazard it is in this bushfire-prone country, I really don’t like being hit by a lit cigarette butt while I’m riding.

• Drag me off at traffic lights. Hello? If I want to race I’ll go to a race-track. You and I both know my bike is going to pull away from the lights faster than your shitbox car with very little effort. Don’t try to make me prove it, coz I can’t be bothered. Enjoy your little ego trip.

• Don’t “read” the traffic.

• Are so nervous that they touch their brakes every few seconds. Your brakes work, ok?

• Tow caravans on steep twisty narrow roads like Brown Mountain or Clyde Mountain.

Gee, I’m going to need a lot of rockets on that rocket launcher!


Chillertek said...

You forgot one that really pisses me off.

The driver that drives about 10- 15 kms under the limit but when you get to the overtaking lane where the road is nice and wide they suddenly speed up to 10 km over the limit, forcing you to really speed to get past them. If you dont get past them they slow down again to 10 - 15kms under the limit when the road goes back to one lane.

I see this all the time and it makes me see red...

Sue said...

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh, yes! That drives me batty. Those people who don't actually want to be going faster than you, but just want to be in front of you - soooo annoying. Do they do it on purpose, do you think? Are their lives so tiny that this highway muscle-flexing is their only expression of personal power? Are they even aware they're doing it? (Many drivers don't seem to be aware of very much on the road at all...)