Driving

A few years ago I had a few weeks where I was without a car and I had a friend pick me up. On one of the trips she said to me ‘What do you think of people who drive without a licence?’

To which I replied ‘Honestly, I think it’s really selfish of them. I mean, driving is a privilege, not an automatic right and so those who want to drive should at least be considerate enough to have a licence, register and insure their cars.’

I didn’t think anything more of it but the following week when she picked me up, her car had P plates displayed, so I had to ask ‘What’s with the P plates?’

To which she said ‘You were right. I didn’t renew my licence ten years ago ,because I didn’t want to spend the money, but I realised after we spoke last week, how selfish that was, so I went and activated my licence and I have to have the plates for a year.’

But it’s true, driving is a privilege and all road users should remember that. Part of having a privilege is to be aware of the responsibilities attached. Those responsibilities include updating and paying your driver’s licence, registering and keeping up the registration and having your car insured because you never know when you’re going to be involved in an accident. Sure it’s a cost but the expense of an accident especially if it’s your fault is high, at least insurance helps some of the financial pain.

But when driving why speed? The speed limit is not a suggestion but there is a reason for it being in place. Speeding really gets you nowhere any faster. I have been at traffic lights and watched cars speed off when the light goes green.

They zoom off and yet more often than not, I catch up with them, 4 or 5 sets of lights later. It got them nowhere. But speed, people do and all it does besides using extra fuel, is increase the chances of an accident and if you’re busted, you get a fine and demerit points, and I have to ask the question ‘Was it really worth it?’

Seriously, you know where you’re going, make sure that you allow sufficient time to get there. Allow for hold ups and slow traffic. Speaking of slow traffic, there’s nothing slower than an accident or road works to slow traffic right down. Yet people get so impatient. I get that it can be frustrating, I’ve had to sit through many a time of traffic not going anywhere. The longest was almost 2 hours to get through a section because of not 1 but 2 accidents.

Getting impatient is not going to change things, it is not going to make the traffic go any faster. Sometimes you can duck down a side street and wind your way around the chaos. With road works and accident sites, quite often 3 lanes can suddenly become 2 or 1 lane and cars have to merge. Letting someone in front is a sign of maturity and a sign of generosity and really doesn’t take up too much time in the scheme of things.

But no, more often than not, people don’t let you in and you have to force the issue, or sit and wait with all the other cars behind you because of selfishness. Yet traffic would flow a lot smoother if people allowed cars to merge.

And it doesn’t get any better at night. One thing people don’t do and they should is to regularly check your lights. You can either have someone stand at the back of your car, while you flick your indicators on and off, and put your foot on the brake pedal to make sure the lights at the back are working, and then have them stand at the front of the car and check your headlights and indicators.

Or you can go down to your local shops when it is dark or only partially dark, park in the car park so that you can see your lights reflected in the window of the shop. Put your indicators on to check them and then reverse into the car park and look in your rear vision mirror. Check your indicators and brake lights and if one of them isn’t working get it fixed.

We are not mind readers and it can get frustrating if you’re sitting behind someone at a T intersection and you have no idea if they’re going left or right, and it’s not fair to not have brake lights working, which is one reason I leave a fair distance between me and the car in front.

And headlights, at night you want both of them working, especially if you are driving on country roads and make sure that if you’re going to use your high beam, if someone is coming towards you, dip them, it’s not fair to blind the other person because you’re too lazy to dip them back to low. And make sure you haven’t got your fog lights on because regardless of whether they’re on high or low, you blind people because they’re so bright. Some car lights are so bright, I have to wear sunglasses at night, and it has nothing to do with being cool, but rather to stop the glaring light from blinding me.

And if people get blinded by the lights what do you think happens to the poor animals who have no road sense at all. They either panic or freeze and you don’t want to hit a kangaroo or a deer at high speed, they do a lot of damage.

I guess at the end of the day if everyone remembered that it’s a privilege to drive and not an automatic right, then maybe they’d think of other people on the road. And maybe if they thought of other people and obeyed the road rules, kept their cars in working order and made sure that they were up to date with all their registrations and insurances, then maybe just maybe we’d see more courteous driver behaviour, and less accidents and road rage and people would arrive at their destination in one piece.

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