Friday, July 13, 2007

Speedy Gonzales

I was going to call this post "Another Soapbox Alert" as I'm going to pontificate - but decided it might put people off from the get go.

Today I took a 6 hour 200 mile return journey to a place near Flint in North Wales to serve my penance and attend a Speed Awareness Course in order to avoid getting 3 points on my licence for speeding 7 weeks ago. I mention the 6 hours as it wouldn't normally take me that long to drive 200 miles but today a combination of dreadful weather, it being a Friday with many schools breaking up for the summer and the fact that I had to use some of the busiest motorways in the UK, all meant that a 4 hour drive took me 6 hours and I was stopped for much of that time.

My speeding crime was doing 35mph in a 30mph zone and I was on the course with 4 other hardened criminals who had also been caught a few miles over the limit. In fact you are only offered this course as an alternative to the licence points if you've only gone a few miles over the limit. I have to assume the police think that doing something like 50 in a 30 zone or 100 on a motorway means you are beyond help and therefore would not benefit from a course. I choose to think differently but what do I know ?

It's wasn't bad actually and we discussed the reasons for, and the implications of, speeding. Among other things we talked about bad driving techniques and the road rage that often follows.

Anyway, all that aside, it's time to pull out my soapbox and climb on board.

Both going and coming back, but mostly coming back, the weather was horrendous with heavy rain and the usual lack of visibility that comes with it. That was compounded on the motorways by the spray from speeding vehicles (not speeding in the context of what I've said earlier - just speeding as in.......well speeding along). If ever there was a need for having your dipped headlights on, this was it. And yet what did I see - or barely see, to be more accurate ? Loads of idiots driving along with no lights on at all as if it was a glorious sunny afternoon.

I just don't get it. I'd love to talk to one of these people and ask them what's wrong with them ? I mean, REALLY. Along with driving along in the middle lane of a motorway when the inside lane is free and not indicating when exiting a roundabout, it's my biggest driving peeve. I try not to get stressed but God help me, it's not easy.

I don't mind these people killing themselves.......more power to them. But their stupidity is just as likely, if not more likely, to get others killed instead.

Maybe their argument is that they can see perfectly well in conditions like we were experiencing today so why use lights? After all it was only 5pm on a July afternoon and not really dark at all. This totally misses the main point in using lights during bad weather. You don't do it to SEE but to BE SEEN. Come on people, it's not rocket science.

I'd be trying to change lanes with a steamed up car, windscreen wipers going like Paris Hilton's legs in prison (ok cheap shot) and with low visibility everywhere. Like a good boy I'd check my rear view mirror first and what would I see ? Well about a dozen cars far enough behind me to not really stop me changing lanes. And how come I saw them through the gloom and rain and spray from my own tyres ? Because they had their lights on !! Yeahhhhhh. So I indicate to show my intentions and immediately I hear a horn blast and looking back again I see a car I'd not seen before, flashing his lights at me. Oh they did work then !

I'd not seen it before because it had no lights on and was a dark colour. It just didn't stand out against all the other cars with their lights on.

I know I've laboured the point now but if it's so obvious, why doesn't EVERYONE do it ? Actually one good thing I did learn at the course was that soon all cars will have to have their lights on....ALL THE TIME. God bless the EU for that one. Can't come soon enough for me.

And don't get me started on the others who use their 'side lights' and think that's enough. It's not. My theory is that the bigger the car, the less use these side lights are. The classic example is a Rolls Royce. I've seen bigger and brighter lights on a lightning bug !

So when I pull up along side them or they do the same to me, I can't really indicate with pulsing hands signals that they need to put their lights on. They simply look bemused as they know they already have them on. Yes but they're like using 2 tealight candles to light the Vatican.


I'd really love one of those moving advertising signs on my back window so I could let these people know what I think. It might cause road rage but it would help lower my stress levels and let me concentrate on my speed a bit more. Oh yes, my speed. Dang it, I forgot about that.

You know, I'm really not sure going to that course today did me any good at all !!


Rhea said...

OK. How the heck did you retire at 49. I'm 49.

Silverback said...

Rhea.........then retire !

No seriously, I worked for a multinational company that wasn't doing so well in the UK and needed volunteers to take early retirement - with a nice financial tax free deal for the next year until I reached 50 and the company pension could kick in.
My hand shot up faster than an Olympic sprinter asking for free steroids and I was outa there.

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