Australia’s most annoying driving habits?
If only everyone else out there could drive as well as – obviously – the readers and writers of Practical Motoring, wonders Jane Speechley.
I LOVE TO DRIVE (no surprise there) and as a result, I usually find I’m content enough when behind the wheel to tolerate most of the bad behaviour out there. Unless someone’s doing something really stupid and dangerous, they usually just get a ‘tsk tsk’ and pursed-lips, shake-of-the-head from me.
But yesterday, as I hit the brakes to avoid a driver who swung out left in front of me in order to turn right, I got to thinking. What are the driving habits that annoy us the most? I’ll start us off.
As mentioned above, when people swing out to the left as they turn right, and vice versa. What is with that? Apparently it’s something to do with weight transfer? I’m not sure that counts when you’re taking off from a full stop. I’m sure they’re enjoying their lovely, wide, sweeping turn, but on a two-lane road, it’s pretty risky. Trailers and road trains excused.
I believe this one has its foundations in the idea that you can save fuel by accelerating off from a slow crawl rather than having to take off from a complete stop. I hope that saving those few cents is worth incurring the wrath of all the other drivers around you. Extra Irritation Points for doing it in a way that blocks vehicles from entering the slip lane beside you.
Another way drivers block the slip lane is by stopping waaaaay too far from the car in front at an intersection or traffic lights. A safe distance is great! A conservative distance is also fine. However, if you’re stopping more than a full car length away, I’m going to suggest you don’t know your car’s length and width as well as you should.
This one almost needs no explanation – it’s not only annoying but dangerous, and also a great way to increase the damage to your car from road debris. Stop tempting fate.
I’m not opposed to the idea of (gently) tapping the brake lights on, to let the tailgater behind you know they’re pushing your patience. But there appears to be a whole world of drivers out there who only know two speeds: full steam ahead, and hit the brakes. Their minds will be blown one day when they realise there are ways to moderate your speed by the way you drive, without hammering either the accelerator or the brake.
Funnily enough, this one doesn’t bother me so much personally, but I know it’s a real source of frustration for many others. In fact, when motorists broadly are asked about their complaints, this one often tops the list. When you’ve got two or more lanes, and the speed limit is 80kmph or more, you shouldn’t be in the right lane unless you’re overtaking, turning right, avoiding a hazard, or you’re otherwise instructed to be there. Congested traffic generally means an exception too.
Mr (or Ms) Much-Too-Nice
But how can being too nice be a problem, I hear you say? Let me paint the picture: you’ve pulled up at an intersection and the car on your right has the right of way. But they’re just so nice, and in such a chipper mood, they decide to wave you through first instead. Or … are they waving? You’re not sure. Maybe you should … wait, no, I think they’re going … no, no, they’re not … or are they? Maybe I’ll move forward … no, stop! … Now there’s another car on the left who’s just as confused … You see what I mean?
Someone once said to me, ‘Parking isn’t tennis. On the line isn’t in’. It’s a good rule to live by. Again, bonus Irritation Points for doing it in an extra-busy carpark.
The Incompetent Merger
Unfortunately, this is an area where other crappy drivers can really affect your ability to do well, and there’s a special place in hell for people who don’t allow other drivers to merge. But for the most part, I’m just going to say this: if you’ve reached the end of your merge lane, and had to come to an unexpected full stop, you’re doing it wrong.
Look, there are a lot of cars on the road – and based on general population statistics, that means a lot of them are being driven by the idiots that are out there among us as well. For every idiot however, there’s a good driver who’s just having a bad day or makes a genuine mistake. If you’re roaring after everyone who crosses you, swearing, flipping the bird, and generally behaving as though you’re auditioning for Mad Max – guess who the idiot is?
Over to you – what habits on the road annoy you the most? And if you’re feeling brave – when have you been guilty of any of these?