Home > Driving > What do you hate about other people’s driving?

What do you hate about other people’s driving?

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Here’s one of mine. Picture this; I’m on a two lane motorway  (freeway for Americans) like the M11 and I’m in a 40ft semi truck driving at the speed that my speed limiter is set at, so 56 mph. I’m gaining on three or four cars, led inevitably by a Nissan Micra, that are bumbling along at about 53mph. I reach the rear of this little queue, check my mirrors, it’s clear, I pull into the outside lane to overtake. At first I’m doing OK, a few speeders have caught up and are stuck behind me, but I’ll soon be past the Micra and out of their way. Then…

I’ll contend that if you are driving up the M11 at 53 mph in your Nissan Micra your mind is probably not on driving so much. You’re deep in conversation with your passenger about your grand-kids, or are enthralled by Gardeners Question Time on Radio 4. You are almost certainly not ‘looking in the mirrors’ in the accepted sense, but your outer periphery detects a change, maybe a simple change from the bright Essex sky to a big dark shape. This fails to imprint a concious thought on the brain (e.g. a truck is overtaking), but does manage to reach deep into the sub-concious and find a little used fight or flight reflex. “Could be danger” the reflex whispers “put distance between you and it”. So, without  thought, interruption in conversation or disruption in gardening information, the right foot moves down just a few millimetres.  The black shape fails to get bigger, the flight reflex is sated and sub-concious goes back to sleep again.

Back to me in the truck.  The Micra is now doing 56.2 mph. My overtaking has had the same sub-concious effect on the other bumblers, and they’ve bunched up behind it leaving me stranded out in lane two with now a long queue of Audi’s and the like behind, all no doubt cursing ‘the truck driver’ for holding them up. I can’t accelerate because of the limiter, slowing up risks dangerously bunching up the traffic behind even more. After waiting a bit to see if the Micra driver wakes up (some hope) I put my left indicator on and wait for one of the other bumblers to realise that 44 tons of metal wants to be the space he is and lets me in. The Audi queue flashes past shaking their fists at me and everything is flowing again.

Then the Micra slows back to 53 mph…

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  1. January 12, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Just curious. Why is it important to drive at the top speed of the limiter? If you drove at 50 it would give you some leeway either way, wouldn’t it?

    • January 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

      Well, this is a blog post so I wasn’t inclined to get too technical, but in fact I do travel at 54 mph for this precise reason. But only to give myself leeway when overtaking other trucks. If you think about it, for the driver who does this kind of speeding up thing it’s not going to make any difference; I’m driving at 54, I pull out to overtake and they (and the people behind) sub-consciously accelerate to match me, I accelerate to 56 mph (my leeway) and they simply subconsciously match me again. Then we are back to same scenario.

      Drive at 50? Three reasons not to; 1. I’m then encouraging all faster moving trucks etc. to pull into lane 2 and block it 2. It would get marked down for ‘failing to make good progress’ if you did this on a driving test, and we should be driving to at least that standard. 3. It’s my time. Let’s say I do 24,000 unimpeded motorway miles a year (that’s very conservative) at 50mph that would take 480 hours a year, at 54 it would take 444. So that’s at least 35 hours a year away from my wife and family, just for the sake of those who don’t obey the highway code*. My boss might have something to say about it as well.

      *(Rule168
      Being overtaken. If a driver is trying to overtake you, maintain a steady course and speed, slowing down if necessary to let the vehicle pass. Never obstruct drivers who wish to pass. Speeding up or driving unpredictably while someone is overtaking you is dangerous. Drop back to maintain a two-second gap if someone overtakes and pulls into the gap in front of you.)

  2. January 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    This is all well put and, as I sometimes drive a school minibus with a limiter, I appreciate what’s going on (Actually I like the limiter, it means I cannot be caught for speeding, at least on a motorway).

    However, why do we motorists have to put up with 2 trucks blocking 2 lanes of the A14 simply because one guy (or lady trucker I suppose) is going 0.01 mph faster than the bloke in front? Argghh!

    • January 12, 2011 at 9:41 pm

      I must admit I despair of some truckers driving. Personally, when another wagon looks like he (or she, there are some) is struggling to overtake I click the cruise down a couple of notches to help them get past.

      With 400,000+ trucks on UK roads the law of large numbers means there must be some inconsiderate drivers out there, and the size of the lorries makes bad driving more noticeable.

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