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What do you hate about other people’s driving?

January 12, 2011 4 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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