Driving standards

The standard of driving in the UK has dropped!

Submitted by Chris Skellhorn

This is not just my opinion, ask anyone that has been driving regularly for more than 10 years. I passed my test in 1975, and since then I have driven countless cars, vans and trucks. I have towed caravans, trailers with cars and vans on, mini-diggers and pallets of pineapple chunks. Having said this, I don't think I'm a good driver.

I make mistakes.

I misjudge the speed of a Fiat coming around the roundabout. I forget to signal, causing the driver of a Land Rover to slow down, wondering where the hell I'm going. I get boxed in on a fast dual carriageway, causing the Scania behind to lose his revs.

I make mistakes.

I don't mean to, and I certainly try to avoid them if I can, but, as they say on the Honda ad, "Aren't we all just trying to get somewhere?". I don't drive into a 50 mph stream of traffic and hold at 30, neither do I deliberately stop at green traffic lights.

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There are times that I have 'driven enthusiastically' which is probably my worst vice. If I'm in a powerful car, and the road in front is clear, I'll really go! On occasion, I have driven a Golf and a Passat at over 130 mph, a Mondeo V6 at 140, a Honda Accord at 125 and a Transit at 110mph. These speeds are ridiculous, but attainable. Thus makes my point.

I am not a good driver.

However, if I see a truck trundling down a slip-road, towards the bit of road I will soon be occupying, I'll move over to let him out. "Nice guy." you may think. But that is also breaking the law,because the driver on the slip-road is obliged, by law, to give way to me! So, do I illegally let him out, or do I cause him some grief by sticking to my guns?

Again, driving down our village street, there are vehicles parked on my right, a queue of traffic waiting to come up as I am going down. Legally, I must not stop, as they are supposed to respect my right of way. So then why do this bunch of morons wait until I'm about halfway down before trying to barge their way up?

Further, if I'm following an artic onto a roundabout, and he indicates left, do I take my legal stance and go to his right? No! Frequently, a long vehicle will need to use quite a lot of road to complete such a manouvre, so I hang back.

Once, when driving through London, I was behind a Scania 'wagon and drag' - that is a rigid truck towing a trailer. He was indicating to turn right, but because of the angle of the junction,was well over to the left. I was also waiting to turn right, but stayed back.

Behind me, some clown in a beaten-up Escort van decided I was too slow, and the Scania in front was NOT turning right. As the traffic lights changed, he saw his chance, then shot past me, dodging back into my lane, and too late realised his mistake as the Scania swung round and his trailer ran across the front of the Escort, crushing it!

Yes, I'm not a good driver, but I've never done that!

I have also been unlucky and been involved in accidents. Some have been parking-speed dings, where nothing more than the dust was disturbed, and some have resulted in vehicles being written off and the passengers ferried to the local A&E.

One that could have been much worse was when I was following a Triumph 1300 down the A11, at around 40 mph on a de-restricted section. His right-hand indicator had been on for about a mile, and I assumed that he'd switched it on accidentally. I realised my mistake when I was level with him, and saw he was about to turn right!

I moved as far to the right as I could, flooring the throttle.

No go! His front bumper caught my rear wing and slewed me sideways at nearly 80!
The Police told me they'd 'do' me for dangerous driving if I didn't admit liability, so I phoned my agent. He told the Sergeant his attitude was irresponsible and threatened him with legal action if he tried that again!

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Another time, I was road-testing a six-month-old Allegro. I'd been round a roundabout to try and replicate a clonking from the front, when a Volvo F88 trundled out in front of me. Apparently, I ripped the seat out of the floor in my struggle to get out! The guy examining the remains was quite impressed.

I'm not a good driver.

To flash one's headlights is taken to meaning many things, like, 'Hi, pal','After you', 'Hey, watch it!', 'Thank you', and 'I'm coming through!' but it actually only means 'I am here'.

Nothing else! ...... 'I am here'.

I'm not a good driver.

If I'm overtaken by a truck, I'll flash my lights to tell him it's safe to pull back in. Likewise, if I overtake and he flashes his lights, I either flick a quick left-right with the indicators, or flash tail-lights or rear fogs to thank him.

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