It never ceases to amaze me that some drivers, when driving along the motorway, feel they are sitting at home alone in the privacy of their sitting rooms.
They don’t see, hear or perhaps care about other road users. They just drive in whatever manner they wish, ignoring lanes, indicators, speed limits, junctions, exit ramps or even other traffic.
Picture this: you’ve entered onto on the M7 motorway for Dublin and set the cruise control to a modest 119 KPH. Weather conditions are good, you’ve left plenty of time to get to your destination and it’s up, up and away.
The car ahead is cruising along behind that slow truck in the inside lane. You check your mirrors, indicate your upcoming manoeuvre, glance over your shoulder and begin to move into the overtaking lane.
Your car is moving along nicely on the outside when suddenly that car behind the truck wanders into your path, your lane. Nope, you didn’t imagine it, there was no indicator and worse, it’s only doing about 100 KPH – you have to hit the brakes, disengage the cruise control, drop a gear, glance in the rear-view mirror and bite down a volley of curse-words.
Alas, this driver is totally oblivious to you and your daytime running lights behind them. He/she is in their own front room in their cosy armchair and haven’t a clue that there might be other people on the road.
What to do? Sit in the overtaking lane, use your audible warning device – that’s the horn to you and me – or flash your fancy xenon headlights at them in the hope they’ll rediscover their rear-view mirror? Or do you simply resign yourself to sitting there at 100 KPH in the overtaking lane with traffic building up behind?
Some might even contemplate shooting past the offender in an undertaking manoeuvre at speed, showing their impatience (and stupidity). This kind of thought process is backed up by statistics: a comprehensive survey undertaken by the RSA showed that some 39% of young adult male respondents agreed that ‘it makes sense’ to exceed speed limits to get ahead of ‘Sunday drivers’. In 2016, almost three quarters of road fatalities were men.
In my view, patience is the only answer: after all, you did leave plenty of time for your appointment in Dublin, didn’t you?
There are many instances in driving that are stupid, irritating or plain dangerous. We all know the drivers who won’t let you onto the motorway from a slip road, refusing to move over to their right, into the overtaking lane, forcing you to slam on the brakes or make a risky dash ahead.
No doubt, we’ve all been behind that arctic driver who hasn’t enough grunt to make the overtake but will still persevere in inching past another truck, making those of us in cars unwitting participants in an agonisingly slow race between two enormous twelve-wheeler snails.
Worst of all, we regularly see those odd – and shockingly dangerous – cars straddling the hard shoulder, as though too afraid to properly position themselves on the motorway. This practice has led to countless tragic accidents involving broken-down vehicles and their passengers.
Lack of care for other road users might be frustrating, but quite often, it’s dangerous too, and the law recognises this. 12,500 penalty point notices were issued last month for ‘driving without consideration’. On the more serious end of the scale, a charge of careless driving requires a mandatory court appearance and a conviction entails five penalty points and a fine of up to €5,000. With 99 lives lost on our roads so far this year, there’s no time to waste in improving driver behaviour in Ireland.
Write in and tell us about your pet peeve on the road. Is it that slow-coach in the outside lane? Or those drivers who think their indicator stalk is for decoration? What about the nervous nellies, whose brake lights are permanently lit? Or is it the SUVs with blinding xenons which look like you’re about to have a Close Encounter on the motorway? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.