For over ten years I’ve had the ‘privilege’ to be able to legally drive on Great Britain’s roads (not that I ever did it illegally to clear that up).
When we start our lessons we’re given the pep talks that driving presents us with a level of freedom that we simply have no conception of up until that point. The roads are yours and they can take you to whatever destination you so choose.
It’s true. In theory you have the free reign to go anywhere the tarmac allows for at whatever time of day takes your fancy. If you have the fuel money in your pocket then you’re off.
Of course in practice things are never that simple.
As well as the outlay for your car there’s the insurance to think about along with the road tax, upkeep of the vehicle and the aforementioned fuel. Depending on how good your car is the price of it all varies. Having a car can cripple you financially to the point where you can’t afford to go anywhere impulsively.
That isn’t my main problem with driving though. You accept the financial side of it as an occupational hazard. What you can’t prepare for are the various things that happen on the road that are sure to drive you absolutely barmy! Here are a few of the things that drive me mental.
- Traffic lights rigged to turn red just as you get to them – Have you ever driven along and then approached a set of lights that were on green and suddenly changed before you got to them in spite of the fact that nothing is coming from either way? Do you think that’s just coincidence? The hell it is! Some lights are rigged to do just that in order to either keep you alert (unlikely) or simply to make you angry (very likely). Very little infuriates me more than waiting at a red light for absolutely nothing. The fact that it happens by design at some sets of lights makes me seethe!
- Inconsiderate drivers – Buckle up (bad pun intended) because this is going to be intense! I said very little infuriates me more than waiting at red lights for nothing. One of the few things that do is other road users who have literally no consideration for others. I’m talking the w**ker who drives right the way up a left turn only lane to then put on their right indicator so they can cut into a huge queue of traffic vying to go another way. I’m talking the d***head who approaches a roundabout and doesn’t indicate in order to leave other users of the roundabout guessing. I’m talking the pr**k who tailgates you intimidatingly because you’re observing the speed limit and they want to exceed it. The kinds of people who believe the roads are theirs to do with as they wish and screw absolutely everybody else. Their desire to get to the supermarket and buy milk far outweighs anything that you might want to do. These are the people who make driving an utter nightmare! There is no excuse for being a complete b***end driver. If you are one then bloody stop it now!
- Cyclists/pedestrians who believe the rules of the road don’t apply to them – I’m afraid to say that cyclists are the bane of the roads. They’re the pain in absolutely everyone’s backside. Even the ones who follow the rules as they should (and there aren’t many) serve only to get in the way. The ones who aren’t doing as they should deserve every accident they have coming to them. You see it all the time. The ones who ride on the road when there’s a cycle path next to it, jump red lights, don’t indicate, don’t wear PPE or have lights and reflectors on their bike, ride on the pavement whenever the fancy takes them and whatever else I’ve missed from this list. I can just about deal with cyclists who do as they’re supposed to, but the ones who do whatever the hell they like leave me questioning how they’re allowed to get away with it. They’re dangerous! There should be a road cycling licence in my opinion. Then there are those pedestrians who think they’re invincible. The ones that step out into the road and force you to slam your brakes on then look at you like you’ve just slapped their sainted mother! Where do people get that weird sense of entitlement from? They deserve to get mowed down if you ask me.
- Poorly maintained roads – You’ll never, ever, ever, ever see me have anything nice to say about local councils. They’re useless across the country. They spend our money on seemingly pointless crap that nobody cares about whilst ignoring the stuff that desperately needs it. I’m under no illusions that they do it purposely because if they didn’t then it wouldn’t happen so often. Public roads; the things that we pay our road tax in order to use; are regularly left to fall into disrepair and it’s an all too common problem. They wait until there is practically nothing left of the road before then causing mayhem by closing it for weeks to repair it. It seems that small, consistent efforts are out of the realm of councils and the road transport department. Yet they seem to have the budget to smack speed humps, cameras and chicanes everywhere. There’s a relentless war on speed, but the potholes and broken roads that are damaging cars are apparently something that can be ignored. So apparently we’re paying road tax to slow our progress and cause more damage to our possessions. Nice one!
- Rush hour – This frustrates me because there’s literally no control over it. It also frustrates me because it can strike wherever it likes. There are some roads that are busy at rush hour on some days and then clear as a cloudless sky on others. There’s the fact that rush hour isn’t an hour either. It’s more like three or four hours twice daily depending on where you are. Rush hour is an optimistic term! I actually prefer to call it drivetime then that way we aren’t deluding ourselves. It makes me so mad when I’m sitting in my car on a motorway and there are three or four lanes of standing traffic. How can traffic be standing on a motorway? It’s a motorway. It was designed to keep traffic flowing. Of course there are many factors at work as to why there’s standing traffic, but when you’re in it you lose all sense of perspective and become convinced people aren’t moving just to annoy you.
Driving. When it goes right it’s a wonderful experience, but it rarely if ever goes right and you’re left tearing your hair out at what an arduous chore it is. I’ve driven a lot of vehicles up to and including double-decker buses and I can assure you that there hasn’t been an occasion where driving didn’t rile me in some way regardless of what I was behind the wheel of.
If you don’t drive then my suggestion is simply not to bother. It isn’t worth the stress and the stupid sums of money you’ll spend. While public transport has its downsides and a lot of them I’d just stick with buses, trains and trams if I were you.
If you do drive, I implore you; please don’t be the second thing on my list. It isn’t big and it isn’t clever!
How do you feel about driving on the roads of Britain (or anywhere else in the world) nowadays? What are your experiences? Is my list accurate or have I missed some stuff out? Drop a comment below and let’s discuss it further. Thanks for reading!
Image 2 from eriding.net
Image 3 from baddogneedsrottenhome.com
Image 5 from @saferukroads on Twitter