Friday, June 20, 2008

Aussie drivers

There are times that I wonder how some people get their driver's licence. Perhaps they get it from the back of a corn flake packet.

On the way to work this morning, I got stuck behind a driver doing 40kph in a 60 zone. (That's about 25 and 37mph for those who prefer imperial measurements.) Oh well, he's just a nervous nellie being cautious about revenue speed cameras -- or so I thought, until he approached a traffic light that turned red just ahead of him, and suddenly accelerated and ran the red light, well after the traffic on the cross road had already started moving.

I guess that's what happens when the government hammers in the message that "Speed Kills" while giving licences to anyone who can do a three-point parallel park on the fifth attempt. (Okay, I exaggerate a tad, but the driving tests seem to be far more concerned with proving you can park than seeing if you can drive safely in a range of conditions.) Bad driving, but slowly.

A little later, I was on a street with two right-hand turn lanes. (Note to those from forn parts: in Australia, we drive on the left hand side.) I was on the left-most turning lane, and as I went around the corner, the car to my right -- a different car -- completed his (her?) turn and immediately tried to do a sharp left turn to get to the petrol station. I can only assume he wanted to buy a Clue, or possibly even a brain, because I can't think of any other reason why anyone would do a left-hand turn from the right-hand lane in the middle of heavy morning traffic. He ended up almost pointed straight at me, and fortunately missed my car by centimetres. (That's less than inches, for those who prefer imperial units.)

Australian drivers don't have a reputation for skillful driving. We tend to be as car-mad as the Americans, without their compulsory Driver's Ed in school, and there is little or no effort made to enforce safe driving. There seems to be a widespread assumption that if you obey the posted speed limit (set by a committee which may not have even seen the street except on a map) and don't drink, then anything else you can do in a car is perfectly safe. Tailgate? Change lanes without indicating? Drive backwards down a one-way street with a lampshade on your head? Sure, why not? There's no Stupid Driver cameras, and hence no revenue to be made, so the police and government apparently don't care.

1 comment:

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