Sunday, January 08, 2006

#11: INDICATE!

Finally! A highspeed internet connection again!



Anyways, I ‘m writing this having gotten back into Coventry about 7pm this evening.

I had intended – with no intention of establishing a series – to post an entry about another irritating driving habit. Having vented a bit of spleen about lane discipline, my recent bone of choice to pick is indication – or the lack thereof. (Been doing a lot of urban driving while at home for Christmas, see?). However, while I’ll get to that, I’d first like to praise the British public for something.

In case you haven’t noticed, the weather out there is pretty horrid. Kind of a misty rain, lots of spray, dark sky, lower than normal visibility – even for the time of year. Sort of conditions that make me wince slightly at the prospect of three hours on a motorway…not because I’m afraid of them (which is not the same as saying I don’t treat them with respect), rather that I’m afraid of other people’s reaction to them. Basically, weather where every flickering brake light makes your heart skip slightly, and you can’t help thinking: accident.

On this occasion, though, I have to admit that my doubts were unjustified. With the exception of some predictable instances of crappy lane discipline, everyone drove pretty much brilliantly. Stopping distances were respectfully maintained; lane-changing manoeuvres were comprehensively signalled and acknowledged; nobody seemed intent on tangoing with the crash barriers; and hardly anyone was in love with their brake pedal and tapping it every five seconds (ok, so there was a Merc SL and BMW 7 series, but even they weren’t too bad – those LED taillights sure are irritatingly bright, though). Maybe it’s thanks to the traffic being fairly minimal, who can tell? It is great when the road infrastructure just works like that. Woo.

Which makes it all the more of a shame that one idiot went and ruined it for me, about five miles from “home” by nearly taking me out at a slip road. I ask you, some people.

But well done the rest of you, made the journey much more pleasant than it might have been.

Accidents, eh? They do happen, but some are undeniably avoidable – sometimes just by manipulating the little stick attached to the steering column. You know the one, just below the wheel rim. Goes up and down, makes a ticking noise. But more importantly causes bulbs to flash on the outside of the car, allowing those without direct mainline access to what’s happening inside your head to predict which way your vehicle may be turning.

I cannot understand people who do not indicate. What’s wrong with you? How difficult can it be?

What?

You were on the phone and didn’t have a spare hand? You should be shot.

I wonder how many accidents are caused each year just because party or parties involved failed to engage their indicators. Anyone know how we can find out?

This is particularly pertinent on roundabouts. I am under the impression that I don’t generally suffer from road rage, but I have taken to shouting “Indicate!” at my dashboard whenever a vehicle from the opposite direction turns right without making little orange flashing signs to tell me it’s about to do so.

No matter how bad this might be, our society does run on a certain amount of anticipation and presumption. To make nice smooth progress, I like to be able to anticipate when I can pull out onto a roundabout without risking my life. Is that too much to ask? But if you don’t tell me which direction you’re going in, how the hell am I supposed to do that?

As you may have gathered, I had a bit of an experience with this recently. A road in my home town that I am very familiar with has a small roundabout on it. The level of traffic that turns right from the opposite direction to which I was approaching it is generally very slim – slim enough that anyone with a modicum of sense would make sure they were indicating if they did so. I acknowledge my part in this, also, though, and I did stop in time. But the way the guy waved cheerily at me as he went on his way just made me fit. It was a little further on before it occurred to me that if I was more of an action kind of a guy, I’d turn round and follow the idiot, wait till he was parked, and knock out all the indicators with a brick or something. Then leave a note on the windshield saying, Well, they didn’t seem to work anyway.

Oh, the futility. As I said when I was talking about lane discipline, we really have to be careful about this sort of thing. Because if we don’t watch out, our incompetence will be judged serious enough that the privileges we currently exert will be taken away from us. (Can’t indicate? License revoked – go sit on a bus.)

That’s it for this evening. Watch out for idiots. And irritable journalists carrying bricks.


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