I should really really know better:

14 May 2005 at 1:21 (General)

Driving Nimetön back home tonight. We were going through Campbelltown when I noticed a young man in a commodore. I estimate he was doing about 40kmh-1 in a carpark, at an acute angle to the road, about to intersect with the road at the time that the car just in front of me was about to pass the car park exit. The commodore slamed on his brakes and waited for us both to pass before dragging out of the carpark and pulling up behind the bloke next to me.

We drove along for a bit and the idiot decides to pull behind me seeing as tailgating the other bloke isn’t getting him where he’s going any faster. As he changes lanes to sit on my bumper I also slow down. We drive along for about a kilometre when we come to the Glynde intersection. The bloke next to me stays in the right turning lane, I keep in the middle lane (can diverge either left or right) and the young son of a gun sitting on my bumper, takes the left lane and then does a sweeping right hand turn, cutting in front of me through the middle of the intersection.

We pull out to overtake a bus at which point he slows right down. Fair enough, I can see his point, so I slow down. I change lanes, just before I pass he jumps in front and slows down again. Fair call. After deciding to ignore and avoid him for a while he eventually takes off down portrush rd, probably breaking 100kmh-1 in the process.

I kept an eye on him. He did a u-turn and came back towards us. At a break in the traffic island he sat and waited. As I approached I slowed down, almost to a stop (there were no cars behind me). I think he wanted to jump in behind me. In response to my stopage, he cancelled his right hand turn towards me and decided to cut off the traffic approaching him from the rear. He did this, also at a high speed in a reckless manner. I think he was hoping to do another u-turn so he could succeed in getting behind me.

I decided i’d had enough of these shenanigans, and I was feeling really scared, so I opted for out. I took the next turn on the left, hit the accelerator hard, and then found another off shoot of the side street to hide down. I parked and decided it was time to change the CD and fiddle about for a little.

In hindsight, I guess I was taking the law into my own hands. I drove like a self righteous twit, blocking that other idiot from speeding off down the road. I should have simply let him overtake us, recorded his number plate and let the cops take a note of the dip stick. I was scared because I felt like I’d increased the danger of the situation by playing with this fool.

====>

When we arrived in Stirling I was being careful not to speed, I was being very conscious of my speed. Between Stirling and Aldgate I felt that it was too dangerous to keep and eye on the spedo because the road is very windy and it was dark and I’m unfamiliar with the area. So I unconsciously ditched the spedo, instead choosing to just drive at a speed that I felt was safe (which I assumed would be within the speed limit). Nimetön started complaining with words to the effect of “oh god matty” which cued me to look at the spedo. I’m not sure exactly, it was probably in excess of 70kmh-1 as I was slowing down.

I was pretty freaked out. Speeding isn’t cool, it’s just dangerous. But I didn’t feel like I was doing anything particularly dangerous. I felt like I still had metres to the road. It worried me that my idea of safety was so warped. I blame cycling. I hardly drive at all, I probably drove more than any of my friends during the period I worked at holden but now days I’ll be lucky to touch a car on a weekly basis, let alone drive one, let alone in the hills in the dark. Cycling also gives you a different perspective. Bikes are far more responsive, you know the exact limits because you can feel exactly when the wheels starting to slip and slide. And when you come off you don’t forget because it hurts a hell of a lot every time or at least scares you in a more permanently.

I should have known I needed to be more careful. Thanks nimetön for being there and waking me up to the fact that I was driving like there was no tomorrow. If you hadn’t been there to give such reminders it could have very possibly turned out really ugly.

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24 Comments

  1. Nimetön said,

    Yeah, your behaviour with the commodore was very out of character for matty’s. I don’t know, you were just acting a bit strange all considered. I didn’t really notice/see what the Commodore was doing so this made your own behaviour seem even stranger because I wasn’t sure if you were playing his game at the time but its clear now that you were having a scared reaction.

    Meh, yeah it’s fairly simply in hindsight. If people are being arseholes on the road the best thing and pretty much the only thing you should do is be non reactive to their behaviour.

    On the whole your driving was actually pretty decent…. Ummm yeah but it just seemed to me basically that you were a bit sleep or non attentive. The last part of the route we took was basically a route that I drive on 7 days a week so yeah where I slow down or instinctively break it was just a bit strange I guess to experience you going around a corner at 70ish.

    Your only problem basically was managing to look at the speedo and the road at the same time which I can’t blame you for. It’s a relatively fine art so if you don’t drive often then fair enough.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself because despite it all you were still doing much, much better than many regular drivers.

  2. toto said,

    cheers, but i still managed to scare myself shitless.

    I think my behaviour with the commodore was justified, he was being an arsehole, as the people in the other car seemed to agree. I was scared because it all got out of control, I had no idea what that boy was going to do.

    I really don’t think I was asleep or inattentive, but it’s probably next to impossible for me to gauge this.

  3. Nimetön said,

    Yeah I wasn’t saying you were sleepy or inattentive… i just assumed it was the reason for what was happening but it very well could not have been because the thought of you being used to riding a bike didnt even cross my mind till you pointed it out.

    With the commodore. You made my case for me. “I was scared because it all got out of control I had no idea what that boy was going to do.”… This is the exact reason why you don’t react at all in the first place beyond getting yourself away/out of the situation.

    Anyway your actions were really a ‘no worries mate’ thing, from my point of view at least.

  4. Thin said,

    Hey,
    Just reading this; I felt sort of sorry for the Commadore. Sure, he’s being a speeding dickhead, but as a driver nothing irratates me more than someone who sits right in front of me and slows me down, making me and everyone behind me travel up to 30km/h under the speed limit. It’s just impatience, I guess, and an annoyance that someone I dont know is making me late for whatever I’m driving too. If someone was to pass me who is obviously speeding I just let them go past and not forget about them; they’re not interfering with my life and once they’re past me they’re only endangering their lives. Just my opinion though. =)

    *waves* hello.

  5. Teddy said,

    I’d have to say that I disagree with you Thin. When someone is not only speeding but behaving in the way that toto described, they are not “only endangering their lives” they are endangering the lives of everyone else on the road that they come close to. I can understand Toto’s reaction but can’t honestly say what I would do in his position.

  6. toto said,

    cheers teddy,
    hi thin,

    That’s why I called the post ‘I should really really know better’. as I said, my action was incorrect, I actually made the situation more dangerous. I probably should have continued to overtake the slower car he was originally tailgating instead of seeping back to a regimented obedience of the speed limit.

    I once saw a bumpersticker that read “the closer you get – the slower I go”, which I thought was kind of neat. If someone isn’t going to leave an acceptable distance for the speed we’re travelling, I’ll dictate a reasonable speed for the distance that they’re following me. As i found out last night in practice this can just infuriate the aggressive, so it is better just to ring the cops and let them deal with it.

    This bloke was irresponsibly and aggressively tailgating us. I don’t care how late you think you are and how important you think your reason may be. Unless you have flashing lights on your roof, tailgating me isn’t going to get me to speed up and get out of your way so that you can drive more dangerously. If you’re that late, leave earlier or get a bike, but don’t gamble with others lives.

    And while I’m telling people how to drive, “remember to practice your ABC’s: Accelerate, Brake and Corner with care.”
    eg.
    -don’t approach a road at an acute angle on a collision path and then jump on your breaks,
    -don’t do burn outs,
    -don’t swerve and cut people off.

  7. Deirdre said,

    Thank God you’re not living in the US where the Commodore driver might have pulled out a gun and shot you both on his way past…

  8. Nimetön said,

    I should also point out that it is just as much of an offense to go too slow as it is to go too fast. If you are going 20 in a 60 zone for no good reason the cops can pull you over just the same as if you were going 80 in a 60 zone. either way you are causing a traffic hazard.

  9. Thin said,

    You’re right, of course. But my point was a slow driver is a lot more likely to get on my nerves that a fast one- Fast drivers dont cause a traffic hazard the way slow ones do, unless they crash of course :P. I’m fine with going the speed limit, but people who go a fair bit under the limit without politely leaving room to go past are very frustrating, thats all :). there’s no excuse for tailgating or road rage, though.

    I should have been more specific with that “only endangering their lives comment. If someone goes straight past me, they’re only endangering their lives and that of people in front of me, if I keep out of his way (It probably is a he) then there’s nothing to worry about. I would probably prefer a brief risk of death to being stuck behind some old lady in a hat for a half an hour. :p
    (I’ve never considered myself very safe anyway)

  10. Nimetön said,

    hehe
    Couldn’t agree with you more, actually Thin.

    I’ve found myself yelling my lungs out at slow drivers in front of me as of late. Really rather pointless considering they can’t hear me.

    One of my pet hates is people that drive at 60 on country roads marked 80 or 100.

  11. toto said,

    I agree that fast drivers aren’t a traffic hazard in the same way slow drivers are, they are a much more dangerous hazard. Take a look at the statistics for deaths caused by high speed compared to deaths/injuries caused by people going too slowly (eg. atsb.gov.au). I think that driving under the speed limit is more acceptable than driving over the limit; driving slowly seems selfish to those who are behind you but driving fast is much more inconsiderate to many other people. Although the average speed is the safest to keep, it’s undeniable that excessive speed kills.

    If you want to get to where you are going sooner you should leave earlier. Pedestrians get in my way everyday because I choose to ride on a shared path (Linear Park). But just because I can go faster doesn’t mean I own the path. It could potentially be extremely annoying, I’m often running late to uni and I have to slow my bike right down from ~35kmh-1 to 10kmh-1 because the idiot pedestrians don’t understand how to keep to the left or how to keep their dog under ‘reasonable control’. This costs me REAL energy that I can instantly quantify; decelerating and accelerating like this several times a day is wearing on the muscles and adds to my stress because I’m running late.

    Despite this, I make an effort, I ensure that I slow down enough because I don’t want to give cyclists a bad name and I don’t want to scare the people who are walking. I want to feel safe as I past dogs and I want the people and animals to feel safe as well. Although it adds to my stress when I come across someone walking in the middle of the path, or a dog running all over the place, or people walking 2-5 abreast (!) I let it go, I slow down, say ” ‘scuse me” and then as I pass them “keep left please”. I end up being late to uni but that’s my fault. I’m late, I should be better organised, they shouldn’t have to wear it through increased danger even though they are disobeying the signs (often through ignorance) telling them to keep to the left and/or keep dogs under reasonable control.

    I choose to ride down the torrens, along the linear park because it’s safer and faster. It’s faster because I DONT HAVE INTERNAL COMBUSTION MACHINES IN MY WAY. I know Nimetön drives or rarely catches a bus and Thin says he drives so I find it rather ironic that you are both complaining about people blocking the streets and getting in the way of people who are trying to get somewhere. My average speed along the river is ~33kmh-1. If I was to take a straighter route, less undulating, wider lanes, like those found on the road I could go faster. But the roads are all blocked by cars which have a lower average speed (average peak hour speed=28kmh-1) and take up more space. If all the bastards in their one-tonne of steel, that transport a single person into and out of the city each day could find a more resource friendly mode of travel (bus or bike) they wouldn’t selfishly be in my way. So before you start bitching about people getting in your way, stop driving and adding to the population that are getting in my way.

    Not that I’m really complaining. I realise that yelling at people or tail gating isn’t going to promote change. Getting aggressive isn’t the solution. If you don’t have the patience to deal with slower people being on the road, I’d suggest that perhaps you should consider avoiding the roads. I do not welcome your aggression, I think road rage is terrible and although I wrongly probably provoke it here a little, I recognise I was wrong and I would sincerely apologise if I came face to face with the idiot commodore owner. So, don’t yell at traffic, don’t get angry at old ladies with hats, just breath calmly and get over yourself. You’ll get there in the end. If it’s really an issue, get off your arse and cycle, it gives you greater control over the situation because you just go around them :-)

    ===>

    It should be noted that at the start of this incident I was driving at ~62-64kmh-1 in a 60 zone, as was the car next to me. The guy pulled out of a carpark and then caught up to us and started tailgating the car next to me.

  12. toto said,

    that’s a bloody long comment. Sorry.

    Oh, and Deirdre, I refuse to live in fear. If I was constantly worrying about people having guns and drivers running over me and cancer and killer African bees and space aliens and the Y2K bug I would probably never go outside. It’s admittedly very stupid at times to assume that people’s fears are illogical and lacking rational but then there are plenty of examples of people being scared for statistically insignificant reasons. So, for the most part I try not to be scared by such nonsense even though I’m not sure how wise it is to do so.

  13. Kent said,

    “So before you start bitching about people getting in your way, stop driving and adding to the population that are getting in my way.”

    ? Nimeton has no option but to drive. He drives along Upper Sturt Road for some considerable distance, which is a single lane road, with a speed limit of 80, and it can be safely driven along at that speed – yet many people drive along it at 60 or 65.

    I think his bitching is justified.

  14. Kent said,

    Incidentally, remember an argument between us some years ago, toto & Nimeton, about carjackings in Adelaide? I believe I was the one scorning the likelihood and dismissing the risk and you, toto, were disagreeing with me, mentioning an example of it happening to someone you knew. If my memory serves me correctly, it got quite vehement. How things appear to change…?

  15. toto said,

    Perhaps that ended up a little misdirected. We were originally talking about travelling through the suburbs on the plains. The people in the country/hills don’t get in my way when I cycle there, there average speed is a lot faster.

    however, at the end of the day, imho Road rage cannot be justified.

  16. toto said,

    sorry, that response was to your pervious comment. hmmph, yeah, I remember the argument, do you still feel the same way about carjackings?

  17. Nimetön said,

    I can’t speak for Thin but you were at least reading way too much into my comment. Roads are primarally a form of transport and just suppose you were a magical futuristic car (or other sort of transport device) that was 100% enviromentally friendly. You still shouldnt go at 20 in a 60 zone. The speed limit is the speed it is for a reason. The primary purpose of a road is to aid in transporting people using whatever means and someone that restricts everyone elses movement by hogging the road does not rate high in my book.

    Whats more – Its is very narrow minded of you to tell half the world to stop being selfish and jump on a bike or use public transport. Your are correct in some respects but not others. I mean I’ll use myself as an example… Why do I drive so much? Because I bloody well have to, I am far from a car fan. I mean the bus service between my place and uni runs for a grand total of once a day. In other words it is so shitty that I cant use it.

    The bus service between my place and Mount Barker runs a total of once an hour on weekdays. Again, this does not fit in with the times I have to be at work unless I wate for around an hour at either end of my trip. A totally impossable thing to do if I have uni on the same day.

    Oh, and what if I need to go into town? Again, I am usually waiting about an hour during off peak periods which are pretty much the only times I can go into town. An inconvenience if I’m not busy and near impossable if I’m working or at uni.

  18. Nimetön said,

    Whats more matty. I never said anything about road rage besides saying not to do it. Screaming to myself is not road rage because no one else notices.

  19. toto said,

    Sorry, as I said, perhaps my comment ended up misdirected. I saw motorists bitching about a car being held up. Cars make me avoid that exact same road because it’s unsafe, but cyclists who have to ride on roads in suburbia/the CBD are constantly held up by cars.

    Screaming at yourself is a slippery slope. Screaming, hitting the radio, hitting the steering wheel, hitting the brakes…. being aggressive inside your car and driving aggressively. Screaming at yourself may not be road rage, but not everyone has the control to release rage/stress in such a manner. Is it responsible to be venting such anger while driving?

  20. Nimetön said,

    Your first paragraph = fair enough ;-)

    Your second paragraph = you have a valid point in some respects… but from my point of view if i vent my anger in the privacy of my own car verbally then its much better than venting it by driving like an arsehole or pulling out a gun as deirdre sugggested. but you are still correct. anger and cars shouldnt mix full stop. unless you have been kidnapped and locked in the boot or something…

  21. toto said,

    I agree with both of your paragraphs ;) :)

    that’s why I described it as a slippery slope, you can vent your anger through yelling, it’s probably a good thing. You just have to be careful that you remain in control of the situation and not let your yelling lead to aggressive behaviour.

  22. Kent said,

    Whatever my previous view was on carjackings (I can’t remember the argument very well), I feel that the issue of carjacking/assault is a minor point here, and that there are better and more immediate justifications for condemning the sort of game you were playing with the Commodore.

  23. Nimetön said,

    for sure. to go down the path of yelling turning to physical violence someone would have to be very, very angry i suppose.

  24. toto said,

    Kent: I wasn’t relating the carjacking thing to this event. doesn’t matter, like you said, it’s of little importance..

    Nimeton: or even just yelling leading to the slamming of breaks causing a rear end collision would be most unfortunate.

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