19 September 2006


Out there on the roads, one can vent internal rages - a kind of mobile psychotherapy. Getting from A to B is not simply a tarmacadam journey, for the distance will also be marked by the mileposts of our emotional engagement in the travelling process.
On habitual journeys around this city of Sheffield with its 500,000 souls, I come to particular crossroads, streets or junctions where my mind is on red alert. My mission is to avoid collision at all costs. I look up and down, my pulse rate rising. An idiot in front pulls out causing a startled driver to brake and then a horn blows. I check the mirror and go, always relieved to have made it unscathed.
There's etiquette here on our hilly streets or terraced roads lined with parked cars on both sides. You wave or flash your lights when people wait up for you and the unwritten rule is that drivers coming uphill have priority. Sometimes two cars meet halfway and they are like rutting dinosaurs in an urban stand-off. I have been in that situation several times and my solution is simple - reverse! It may sound cowardly but I can foresee no profit in angry street encounters with enraged drivers you have never met before. For the sake of a minute of your life, it's wisest to just back off. After all, aggressive idiots always meet their Waterloo in the end.


On the roads, I'm a mobile (cell) phone spotter. I see them everywhere - careless drivers talking into phones - they may be turning corners, driving huge cement wagons, waiting at traffic lights or taking kids to school. If my eyes could be transformed into powerful laser beams I'd be zapping twenty of these idiots every day. I fail to see what is the significant difference between driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while on a mobile phone. We should be equally enraged because both behaviours have caused and will cause death.
Another bad habit that appalls me is tailgating on motorways. You know, you're doing seventy five, you pull out into the fast lane to overtake a slower vehicle and a fast car comes surging up behind you, sitting on your tail in an intimidatory fashion until you have pulled back in to the centre. Again my view is it is just not worth trying to make a point - just pull back into the centre, indicating as always and let the ignorant pigman play out his Formula One fantasies.
Most drivers on the roads of northern England are courteous and safety conscious. You don't notice this sensible majority. Taxi drivers are not included. They often fail to indicate, make dangerous U-turns, park up at very inconvenient spots - often double-parking and they try to butt in from side roads. I would never voluntarily let a taxi in to a main road and the same applies to any cars that have personalised number plates - they can just wait - "FU 1" mate!


  1. We have the same buggy drivers in the US. And to make things worse, Bob attacts them like a magnet.

    When I go out on my own, I hardly have any problems. Put Bob in the car and instantly we'll have kook in front and back of us. And occasionally another on the side.

  2. My Brother-in-Law is a Salesman and thinks the roads are for him and him alone.

    He thinks nothing of hanging on some poor fucker's tail flashing his lights repeatedly - even if there's nowhere for them to pull in.

    "You're a pillock" I tell him.

    His father (Dearest's dad) died in a car accident.

    Sometimes the lesson ain't learned.

  3. I never hoot my horn or flash my lights at other drivers, largely because neither of those things work on my car. You sound like a model driver YP. I agree with your philosphy that is not important enough to get into a conflict about, but like so many things the theory seems so much easier than the practice :-(

  4. Sheffield is where I last crashed my car. I hit a new Merc on the Parkway. I wish I could tell you what a twat he was, driving too fast in his flash car whilst swigging from a bottle of champers in between doing important business deals on his mobile phone, shouting things like, "Buy! Buy! Buy socks at two-fifty!" but he wasn't.

    It was actually my fault, and he was a very nice man who didn't make a big deal out of it.

    I should add that I'm not usually a twat either. It was very stormy that night, and I simply lost concentration for a second or two. usually I'm the guy who holds up all the traffic so that the little hedgehog can cross the road.

  5. A simple means to cut down on vehicular annoyance would be the reintroduction of a strictly enforced 5 mile an hour speed limit. Add to that a requirement for a hearty youth to walk in the front of every automobile waving a scarlet flag whilst hollering " mind yourselves" would help no end.

    I fear for the safety of stray milk maids, and tipsy dray horses in the current crazy climate. What's wrong with this country !

  6. Is that Snidely Whiplash?!

    Here in Texas.. we either have the tailgater bastards or the farmers who think that no one really has to be anywhere.

    We have wide shoulders here for passing. But some of those buggers don't think about pulling over and letting you.

    I am afraid I can possibly get a case of road rage. And do the Vann family wave quite a bit. That would be showing the other driver they he/she is Number 1.

  7. I am an unfortunate road-rager. I am your worst nightmare. But only if you piss me off - like by tailgating me. I have actually slammed on brakes, put the car in park, gotten out and walked up to a car behind me. It didn't matter that the kid driving looked all of 17 ot 18 and had a carload of friends who were taunting me - while said driver was sweating and shaking. I let loose a string of profanity that would put a sailor to shame. Later, I realized he could have been some gun-weilding madman...but the satisfaction was still worth the ordeal. I've also decided that I have a beacon somewhere on my car that calls out for every octogenarian on the roads to come to where I'm driving and cut in front of me or swerve dangerously in the lane beside me. I so love driving the country roads - where all you have to worry about is a tractor, tobacco trailer or the ocassional cow in the middle of the road. Except for deer. Don't drive at night, in the country, when it's cold outside.

  8. It's funny-- whenever we exchange driving stories, it's always the other people who are the crazies (and they are! oh, they are). So far, Friday is the only one who's confessed to being one of those crazies.:) So, let me add a crazy-story of my own:

    Although I had owned a driver's license since I was 18, I didn't really learn to drive until I moved to Seattle. I pulled up to an intersection that was very, very busy. There was some traffic-clogging, though, and no one was going anywhere that fast. One person in the car said, "Go straight," and the other person said, "They're waiting for you." I went forward, and a car coming from my right almost slammed into me. Everyone in the car was banned from talking for the rest of the trip, while I silently reamed myself out for being such an idiot as to listen to other people's advice when I was the driver. If there had been an accident, I would have been totally at fault.

    Today, I may not be the best driver around, but I am certainly a safe driver. If it comes down to a choice between being safe and having the right of way, I will choose being safe. People say, "I don't get nervous when you drive," which means more to me than any praise for sporty maneuvering.

  9. Whoops, there's a transitional sentence missing in the last comment post. I meant to write, "Once, when I was a fairly new driver..." before my anecdote.

  10. I'm not sure about the rutting dinos. Head-to-head or nether bits to nether bits surely?

    With you on the mobbie front though. And as for lane discipline, I bet you had to pull out into the fast lane was because someone else was cruising in the middle.

    As for 4x4s, let's not go there!

  11. CRABCAKE - I know what you mean about magnetising incompetent drivers.
    STEVE - Does your sister mind having the surname Pillock?
    ARTHUR - I am not a model driver in your sense of the word but if you're thinking beachwear and glossy lifestyle mags then yes I probably am a model driver!
    GARY JAMES - Ahem! Dontcha know that male drivers NEVER admit when it was their fault!
    BLIND WINGER JONES - Such innovative road safety ideas!
    BY GEORGE - Could you post a pic of your special Vann family wave on your blog?
    ALKELDA - Your are the angel of the PNW road system!
    SHOOTING PARROTS - 4x4 ? That's easy mate. It's sixteen!

  12. I am a little late on this but ... I never really was a driver that had road rage but I had bad habbits. I would ride the bumper of the car in front of me when we were on a raod that was narrowing and the drives in the lane would drive as far as they could, making much better time than me, a just cut over. Not on my watch! I also would see someone zomming up on my tail and flashing the lights. If I was over the speedlimit I would either stay put until I was able to get over without putting me out or I would slow down.

    I have since stopped that and drive much more like you do now. I find I am much less agrivated and feel much better when I get to the other end of my travels.

    On cellphones, I am afraid I talk on them but only for a quick call to someone saying I am about 30 minutes out or where am I heading, etc. I notice that I look in front, in back and on all sides when I am not on the cellpohone. When I am on it I only am watching the car right in front of me making me much less safe. I do not use them much in the car but if I see my phone dissapear one day while I am driving, I will understand.

  13. I have been banned from driving in Washington State. That doesn't stop me, of course. It just makes everything that much trickier. Once I get my helicopter, I will be above it all-- literally.


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