Category Archives: accidents

Is it worth risking your life to get one car ahead?

I just drove home on the freeway. Some cars were driving far too fast, and others driving far too slow. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Slow cars pottered at 80km/hr in the right hand land, whereas other cars roared at 110km/hr+ on the other side of me in the left hand lane. It was a stressful drive. I had a headache by the end of it.

Obviously, the cars going at 110km/hr+ are not driving responsibly. But I often wonder if cars driving at 80km/hr think that they are being “safe” because they are driving below the speed limit? I don’t mind cars driving at 80km/hr on the freeway if there’s a reason for it. But if there is a clear road ahead of the car and no obstructions or rain, it is actually dangerous to drive at well below the speed limit on a freeway. The cars which are keeping to the speed limit or going above the speed limit roar around the “slow coach”, overtaking on both the left and the right. There is more likelihood of a collision if people are darting in and out of lanes and getting frustrated.

I also hate it when a car tailgates me, when they should be able to see I can’t go any faster because (a) I am on the speed limit or (b) there are six cars in front of me. Funnily enough, a car was overtaking other cars like crazy on the freeway a few weeks ago, risking life and limb by darting in between lanes and coming up right behind other cars. Later, as I went up the exit ramp, I pulled up…beside the very same car. I guess all his darting and weaving didn’t get him much further ahead!

I mention this because of the terrible car accident in the Burnley Tunnel on Friday. It seems to have happened partially because two cars were trying to move away from a broken-down truck, and collided with another truck in the next lane.

I learned to drive in the UK, and when I returned to Australia, I was shocked by the lack of discipline on Australian roads. (A friend from Mumbai tells me I ain’t seen nothing yet – driving in Australia is child’s play compared to driving in India. For one thing, you have to stop for cows on the road in India.)

I note that a world expert has said Australian drivers are unaware of “tunnel etiquette”. I would say that there needs to be a greater awareness of driver etiquette generally. On English motorways, “slow” drivers take the left hand lane, “medium” drivers take the middle lane and “fast” drivers take the right hand lane. Initially, being a undisciplined Aussie, I thought this was crazy (akin to the English desire to queue) but it does minimise chaos caused by people trying to dart around “slow” drivers. Also in England, there doesn’t seem to be the same reluctance to let people in to moving traffic. A little bit of politeness can help frustration on the road. I always wave thanks to people when they let me in or are generally polite on the road.

It’s all too easy to get frustrated and forget that you are in a fast-moving vehicle which can cause harm to yourself and others if you lose control of it. When I hear people whinging about low speed limits outside schools, I think of the time my sister got hit by a car outside our school, and flew 20 whoops, I meant 2 metres through the air. (20 metres would be pretty spectacular!) Luckily, she was okay, but if the driver had been going just 5km faster, she would have sustained more serious injuries, or worse. As it was, she was concussed, scratched and had a badly broken leg.

Which brings me to the point of this post: is it worth risking your life (and worse, the life of other innocent people) simply to get one car ahead? I don’t think so.


Filed under accidents, cars, society