Saturday, 2 January 2010

Oh, I'd forgotten about BD03 OZN

Yes, maybe it was an over reaction about a silly little thing like parking on a pavement, between two zebra crossings, but.... it me, or has everyone forgotten how to drive on motorways?

Over the holiday period, travelling from Glasgow to Eastbourne via Rugby and then back with SL and myself at the wheel of Kolo, we covered 1078 miles. The first leg down to the Rugby midpoint was driven in snow and the much hyped UK winter white out. It wasn't too bad. Yes the third, overtaking lane on the motorway wasn't always gritted and we'd forgotten that it's the snow falling, blocking vision that's an added hazard, not just the white (and black) stuff on the road that can cause a call to the insurance company. Yet after all that was said and done, it was other motorway users than caused the most alarm.

You see, when was it, that grey-haired old men lost all memory of driving in the snow? In fact, when had everyone lost the ability to override their sat-navs with common sense? When TomTom says keep right at a junction on a motorway, it doesn't mean;
'by all means, forget your mirrors and dive into the third, fast lane and sit there for 7 miles until next instructed to do something next!'
Yes, driving in the snow is hazardous but being confident and physically able to look over both shoulders without risk of spinal injury, I drive quickly but not stupidly in bad weather. That does require, just like in the dry, to change lanes. Oh yes, it's not a lottery; you don't pick a lane then use only that one lane for the whole 500 miles of your journey. No, you keep left if there's nothing else there, then if you see something slower in the left lane, you, with plenty of time, move to the right, to the next available lane, sometimes to the most right hand lane if there is another vehicle overtaking a slower vehicle already. And then return the the most left available lane once cleared of slower traffic.
But it isn't. One problem is the 'with plenty of time' business. When I say that, I don't mean, 'oh, yep, with my bi-noc-u-lars (in the Guy Richie Snatch way of saying it) I can just about see a lorry on the horizon' plenty of time. Nor do I mean in the, 'look our numberplates are kissing' sense either. There is the 'common' sense of, 'yep, look in my mirrors Maureen, nothing there, indicate right, overtake, indicate left, move back. Yes it's a tad nerdy and oh so anal but that's how you use the motorway. You don't mis-use your sky+ box by balancing it on a pogo stick, no, you put it on a table next to open liquid containers.
It's common sense!
An isn't common sense one of the national traits we Brits pride ourselves on?
Or has the Dutch firm of sat-nav makers stolen that off us?
No, they have plenty of common sense and savvy themselves, that's why their architecture and urban design is about 25 years ahead of ours.

Maybe it's a translation thing, maybe TomTom doesn't realise that 'keep right' and the worst instruction; 'keep in the right hand lane' has been taken so literary. Remember two things, the Dutch, like all of Europe drive on the right and of course, language. But maybe they didn't see how thick we Brits have all become.

They didn't see the whole, 'take the next available left (or right)' thing, when even taxi drivers went onto railway lines, ponds, private driveways and random posts and street furniture. The taxi driver's worry me the most, as it's their living to drive and to know where they're going. What next, surgeons with a laptop in front of them when they operate. Killing patients because they've lost the ability to think on their feet and can only do what the computer says.

One grumpy old man on tele said it well, 'it's a sat-nav, not a computer-game, you can still see out of the windows, you should know it's a pond before you drive into it!'
Here, here. Yes, I might be only 24, cough, but really, I don't want to be injured or killed by someone who can't think without the voice of the little colour touch screen telling them what to do next.

Only 30 minutes separated me from an accident at my junction of the M8, when someone entered the motorway the wrong way, travelling in the wrong direction and taking out three other cars before a head on smash killed the old man but injured terribly the driver and passenger of the other car.
This as at 11pm at night too, just think, what if it was rush hour.

Oh this so isn't the way I wanted to start the new year, or in fact, the new decade. Yet just because it's gone midnight a couple of nights ago, doesn't mean it's all changed on the roads.
If only it had.

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