Sunday, September 18, 2011

Can You Speak My Language?

For years I have been saying that the reason why many Queensland drivers are so bad is that they can't speak English.  Don't misunderstand me, please, as I am not referring to people who are new to the country, but to those who have no idea of the meaning of certain words in their own language!  The first word that blazes a path across the mote that is my mind is "defensive".    I am sure that there are many drivers who confuse this word with "aggressive".    The National Safety Council's Defensive Driving Course describes defensive driving as "driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others".   My dictionary describes "defensive" as "Performed so as to avoid risk, danger, or legal liability".    "Aggressive", however, is  "Inclined to behave in an actively hostile fashion".   Or - Road Rage!

Some drivers are a nightmare to travel with as a passenger.  I have a great reluctance to travel in any vehicle as a passenger, and that is at the best of times.  I trust very few people behind the wheel of a car, and admit freely that I am a dreadful passenger.  My tendency is to hold on for dear life, whilst applying the 'brakes' judiciously, and either squeaking or wetting my knickers at the number of apparent near-misses other drivers have.  There have been times when I wanted only to shriek "stop the car" and to haul my driver out and take over the driving myself.  Sometimes the only thing that stopped me was that I was hanging onto the safety strap so tightly that I was unable to prise open my fingers.

One delightful - and I use that term with all intended sarcasm - journey I underwent was endured only by keeping my eyes firmly closed, while mentally screaming.  The supposedly professional driver (a taxi, by the way) kept cursing other motorists, swerving back and forth between traffic lanes, and slamming on the brakes at the last minute when required to stop.   The trip was rather like the driver, jerk, jerk, jerk.  At one point, and to my extreme horror, he decided that he hated motorbikes, whereupon he tried every trick he knew to cause a motorobike in front of us to crash.   Probably the only thing he stopped short of was running his cab into the back wheel of the bike.

More positively, there have been times when I was very comfortable and felt relaxed and safe with the driver.  The two drivers in whom I would place my trust at any time are, wait for it ........... women.  One is my own daughter, who is an absolute natural at driving.   The other is a young woman friend who is still on her 'P'  (Provisional) Plates.   Both of them are careful without being over-cautious, courteous, calm, and considerate drivers.   They instinctively adopt defensive driving attitudes, protecting themselves as well as their vehicle and passengers.

Probably one of the very worst drivers I have ever been in with was a young man who drove a truck for a living. He considered he was great at the wheel.  Whereas he was anything but great!   He consistently 'tail-gated' other vehicles, exceeded the speed limit, swore at other drivers, drove aggressively and generally behaved in a selfish manner on the road.   At one point he was livid because another car was in his mirror's "blind spot"  when he wanted to change lanes.   I pointed out that the other driver was doing no wrong, and had not the slightest idea where his 'blind spot' was.  And also that it was his responsibility to not only check his mirrors, but also to physically look behind before he changed lanes!   All in all, this man was a driver from hell, and I was just glad I had never encountered him while he was driving his truck.

Which brings me to some other truck drivers.   I have been on the highway, travelling at 100kpm, with a sleeping child in the back of the car and behind me, travelling so close to me that all I could see was the front grille, loomed a huge truck.    There are any number of short-haul truckies who employ this tactic, and I honestly don't know where they think it gets them.   It is dangerous in the extreme - I can stop many times faster than the truck, for example.   If I have to brake suddenly there won't be much left of my car nor of my granddaughter or me.  The sight of that monster in your rear view mirror is horrifying, and made worse by the fact that there isn't anything you can do, or anywhere you can go.    It is just intimidation, there is no other word for it.  Oh, apart from stupidity, dangerous, reckless, thoughtless and a host of other adjectives.  There is no understanding such moronic behaviour, and the worst thing of all is that the truckies  just don't give a  toss.

As for the rage exhibited by some drivers, well.  I am constantly shocked by the level of rage that seems to bubble inside some people.  It would be a big achievement if we could find the reasons for this and eradicate it.  It seems that society in general produces innumerable people prone to outbursts of fury and rage.  I don't understand it, no matter how much I try.   Surely we aren't born with this negative emotion burning our gut night and day?  When does it first show itself?   Do the parents of these rage-prone people know their children feel like this?  What do they do about it?   The thing that frightens me is that this response to the slightest stress - blind fury - is out of all proportion, and is often a killing rage.   That, plus the fact that it is obviously a phenomenon being seen across the world, not just in one small country.   If the people who go into a blind rage and use their vehicle as a weapon against others are like this in a vehicle, what are they like when they aren't driving?

Perhaps it is time to introduce compulsory anger management classes in our high schools.

Another type of driver is the inattentive and careless idiot, one who is "an accident looking for a place to happen".   They come from all walks of life, across the age groups, and from either sex.   We have all seen someone talking or even texting on their mobile phones whilst driving.   And we know that it takes just a second for an awful accident to happen.  But what about the mother who was splashed across the news because she was driving, breast-feeding her baby, and talking on her phone at the same time?    Well ok, it may be quite funny, but she obviously didn't care whether she killed herself and her tiny baby!    There have been reports of men shaving whilst driving.   I saw someone combing a child's hair, driving at 110kpm on the highway, in the overtaking lane.  And paying more attention to the hair than the road.

The most telling incident of all time, to my mind, was when my daughter saw a POLICE WOMAN driving an official vehicle, whilst drinking from a 600ml Coke and talking on her mobile.   This was on the highway, as usual.  Great job WPC or whatever.   My daughter phoned Caboolture Police Station, told the officer who answered what she had seen and the Car number.   She was, naturally, angry at the policewoman - after all, she was breaking the law!  The officer claimed they had no facility for finding which Station the car had come from, and off-handedly suggested that my daughter go to the nearest Police Station and fill in a Complaint Form.   Hmmm.  Pack of rubbish this is.  You are in heavy traffic on the highway and you are obviously not about to go searching for your nearest Police Station, are you?    What a great attitude from the ones who are supposed to be enforcing our laws.   If the Police don't care, who will?   And if they aren't worried about being responsible drivers how in hell can they expect anyone else to care?  Thumbs up, Queensland Police.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!   I welcome comments, whether you agree or disagree with my viewpoint.

1 comment:

Nels Angels said...

So Dam right Carol, Double Standard or just plain Lazyness to follow-up one of their own.
Also I agree with you I have observed this rage behaviour in many places that comes from within some people almost from nowhere????