Been biting my tongue, now I vent

I’ve been biting my tongue for a while, but I really need to vent finally. This is not about world hunger, or curing AIDS, or anything earth-shattering, but in its own small way it could be world-changing.

My issue is drivers who don’t know how to be courteous – now I don’t mean drivers who aren’t courteous (they’re just [insert bad words here], but that’s another issue) – I’m referring to drivers who TRY to be courteous, but don’t understand what they’re doing.

Example in point:

I drive along a long stretch of road every morning, at one point there is a road that many cars from the opposite direction need to turn across us to get into. Courtesy means that we occassionally pause to let them in. I do this often myself but, in my [humble?] opinion, correctly. My method is to slow down slightly approx 1km earlier (I don’t brake, I just ease off the accelerator), by going 5kmh slower than the vehicle infront of me a gap of a hundred metres or so is created by the time I get there (see whinges 2 and 3 below for how other drivers stuff this up), which allows a few cars to cross over and go on their way. The muppets that don’t know how to be courteous cause issues because they keep up with the car infront until the intersection, then slam on their brakes to give way and “be courteous”.

The issues with this:

  1. slamming on your brakes in busy traffic is NEVER a good move if it can be helped, you’re begging to be rear-ended.
  2. whenever you stop in traffic, it creates a flow-on effect for (potentially) hours to come. Studies have shown that this is why traffic jams build up [trafficwaves.org, innovations-report.com, iopscience.iop.org, Traffic Wave on Wikipedia]. This is why I use the slow-down technique, so that the traffic behind me keeps flowing at all times (albeit slightly slower).
  3. by stopping suddenly to give way, the driver you are giving way to has no warning and cannot be possibly be prepared (also see Whinge #3, below).
Whinge #2:

When I’m slightly slower than the vehicle infront of me, and allow a gap to emerge, I am often tooted at and then overtaken by muppets that feel I am slowing them down. Now, (a) they only manage to get about 10 seconds closer to where they are going; (b), they eliminate any chance for the opposing traffic to progress further; and (c) the overtaking is not done in the safest location for such a maneouvre.

Whinge #3:

When you are waiting for a gap to cross the oncoming traffic, BE ALERT! All too often the driver of the vehicle at the head of the oncoming queue is not paying attention. You flash your lights at them and finally they notice after half the gap is gone; then they take an eternity to put their car in gear and actually move, often just as the gap has become too small for them to safely make it. A gap that could have accommodated 2 or 3 vehicles, has now been wasted.

It’s the same with merging, don’t stop to let them in, just allow a gap for them to fit; and merging drivers, keep your speed up to MATCH the speed of the traffic you wish to join. Making them stop to let you in CAUSES accidents, it does not prevent them.

Basically, what I’m saying to people is, THINK about what you are doing. There are consequences and ramifications beyond what you can see (ie behind you, and in 10 minutes’ time). You can still be courteous, but be thoughtful about how you are. If you prepare to be courteous, and slow down a little, one vehicle can make it across. If even half of drivers drove like this, we would only need to let one vehicle across each. At the end of the day, that one extra car in-front of you will not make you late to where you’re going. Hitting snooze a fourth time will; allowing 20 minutes for a 30 minute drive will; talking on your cellphone and missing your turn-off will.

Here’s a video of how the fight between “cheaters” and “blockers” causes an exit-lane backup. And then, how one driver can unclog the jam:

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About Cameron
I'm a final year Computer Science/Information Systems major. Already finished my BA in Politics/Philosophy. I do web and software freelance on the side, while I finish studying. Hoping to be self-employed by the end of my degree, otherwise off into the real-world I go....

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