Five Ways to Frustrate Fellow Motorists
It has just been announced that the first ever conviction for hogging the middle lane of a motorway was secured in Yorkshire.
A van driver got five penalty points and a £1,000 fine for repeatedly refusing to do the decent thing and move over when the inside lane was free. Hogging the middle lane has always been annoying, but it became a crime when the government introduced a raft of new laws to tackle anti-social driving practices. It’s a good start, but here are five other driving habits that really get on our nerves.
Rubbernecking is an American term, but it is fairly common and understood in the UK. Sadly, the practice is now fairly common also on our roads. This, of course, refers to the irritating practice of slowing down to have a good look at accidents. It’s ghoulish, certainly, but it also causes huge traffic jams on our motorways where there is no accident at all on the carriageway and people are just slowing down to gawp at an accident on the other side of the road. That said, when the police deploy officers on the offending carriageway to wave on drivers with torches in an effort to speed them up, it is somewhat counter-productive. Who doesn’t slow down when they see a traffic cop waving at them on the motorway?
2) Sharing Your Sounds
You might really love the latest drum and bass classic, but playing it at top volume with the windows down is just not cool. How many urban streets shake to the sounds of unwanted music blaring from some dodgy-looking little hatchback with a tricked-out body conversion? Our eardrums bleed, the shop windows in the High Street shatter and our blood pressure goes through the roof. Put the windows up and keep the volume down to festival level.
3) Removing the Silencer
This isn’t only irritating; it is against the law. Too many enthusiastic drivers of motorbikes, scooters and the aforementioned dodgy and tricked-out little hatchbacks decide that their ride simply doesn’t sound powerful enough, and they set about doing something about it. Sometimes they also set about their exhaust with a drill, puncturing the silencer to allow the ‘true’ noise of the engine to make itself heard. And make itself heard it certainly does - at a decibel level that will turn your peaceful street into an airstrip.
4) Being a ‘Torpe’
Just like rubbernecking, the word torpe has been imported from overseas - in this case from Spain - but it is becoming increasingly used over here. It is a good general-purpose word which means slow or stupid, and in motoring it is often directed at the slowcoach who holds us all up. That’s right: it’s the guy who sits for 30 seconds at the traffic lights after they turn green or who won’t pull out of the junction if there is a car approaching on the distant horizon. Like a black hole, torpes are hard to see, but you can detect their presence from the way that they influence the space around them. Instead of almost infinite gravity, in the case of the torpe it is a queue behind them of almost infinitely enraged drivers.
5) Multi-Tasking at the Wheel
Most of us have just about figured out that making phone calls while driving is pretty unacceptable and, again, against the law. But it is not just the smartphone that distracts the thoughtless driver. Chatting to the kids in the back on the school run and not noticing that the lights have changed is just one example of this unwanted multi-tasking. Others are performing personal grooming routines, such as applying make-up or shaving, at the wheel or eating and drinking what appears to be a three-course meal with silver service. Your car may be an automatic, but it is not that automatic, and self-driving cars are a little way off just yet.