Driving. Some people love it and others will probably never do it. I was never keen on learning to drive. I never had the urge to get behind a wheel and drive somewhere on a whim. I never needed to drive a car anywhere. Growing up, I lived in a nice location which was in walking distance of school. As I got older I found it was easy to access places on public transport. It was an early morning bus to one town centre for one job, then a tea time train to the other town centre for my second job and then a late bus home to bed. Easy peasy. The cost of a car, fuel, tax, and insurance against a monthly metro pass would have been illogical. Plus, lets face it, city centre parking is not cheap or always an option. So why would I drive?
Something else which probably assisted in my reluctance to get behind a wheel is that I used to work in car insurance, in the claims department. I could take up to thirty calls a day, five days a week, from people reporting that they have been in a road traffic accident. After a long week at work that was a lot of accidents. On a team of up to twelve advisors that was even more accidents, the numbers kept on rising. The roads were a dangerous place. And don’t even utter the words ‘Code White’ to me again (which meant it was snowing in some part of the country and to expect a day from hell on the phones…)
Eventually, at 25, I gave in to peer pressure and decided it was probably time I learned how to drive. By now I worked in a town which was a bit of a trek by public transport and I had the option of a free car park which helped. After 9 long months (and one fail) I passed my driving test and before I knew it I was cursing road works, stuck behind buses, pressing on the accelerator to overtake tractors, swerving to avoid dogs in the road, tutting at idiot children playing ‘chicken’ and just all around trying to be sensible and safe. What I have discovered though is that being a driver is a little like being in school. The more sensible you are, the more likely you are to be bullied by the ‘popular kids’.
When I passed I made sure I had my ‘P’ plates so other people on the road would understand when I hesitated at a junction too long and then stalled. What I didn’t realise was that by having the big green ‘P’ on my car I was making myself a target for those over confident, over cocky, over dickhead drivers who would try and intimidate me. They would follow me and get too close causing my attention to be on my mirror instead of the road in front. They would beep and do anything to distract or scare me. It didn’t help with building my confidence in the slightest but as soon as the pass plate was removed, all this stopped. Magic.
After over two years of driving I have had a few near miss incidents. One would have been my own fault (lesson learned) but others have been really scary and potentially very dangerous. There are some absolute morons on the road these days. And I’m not afraid to say that taxi drivers are some of the most inconsiderate drivers out there. Yes, you drive around all day to earn a living, but it does not mean you can pretend that you’re the only car on the road. And after I have been on a night out and you drive me home at 3am, don’t think I didn’t notice you driving at 60mph down a 30mph road…
Speeding is something I feel very strongly about. I’m one of the few people out there who will follow the rules when it comes to the speed limit. It’s there for a reason. I will drive at 30mph in a 30mph zone. I will drive at 40mph in a 40mph zone. And if anyone has a problem with it then you can kiss my shiny car’s arse! If you want to speed, go right ahead and go around me, I don’t care. You can get as close as you want to my car and I will slow down even more until you back off. Get as angry as you want and I will laugh. After all, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not in a rush. I have a 14 mile drive to work so I’m prepared for the time it will take to get there and the time it will take to get home in the tea time traffic. What is the point in rushing to try and shave a few minutes off my time?
It took me a long time to get the confidence to park up in a car park. What if I bump someone’s car? What if I scrape along someone’s door? What if I forget where I parked the car? What if I get in to an awkward angle and can’t pull out without hitting someone and then traffic backs up because I have caused a huge mess in trying to park and I have a nervous breakdown at the wheel? This might sound really silly to some of you, but it was a genuine fear, so I would just avoid going altogether. Or if I had no choice, I would park at the far back of the car park where it was practically empty. ‘It’s good exercise to walk a bit further to the shop’ I would say. While that is true …it was just an excuse.
I am pleased to announce that I am fine with car parks now (*applause) but there are still some things I will avoid; motorways, bypasses, roadside parking, roads where I might need to change lanes. The idea of a new journey/route will cause a slight panic until I have studied Google maps and street view long enough to be confident with where I am headed. Again this will sound very silly to a lot of you but, simply put, get over it. We all have something we don’t like or fear, driving will never be my forte. I love my car, I know how to use my car, I am a good driver, I just hate the road. If you’re still confused please read my earlier blog titled ‘Irrational Fears’.
My message to some drivers today is… stop being a dick. Simples. Cars can cause a lot of harm and damage, it’s not a place to show off. My message to the Audi, Jaguar and BMW drivers is …USE YOUR INDICATORS! For the rest of you, I hope you enjoyed my latest rant 🙂 that is all.