JAN 14th 2016
Erin Baker – The Etiquette of Driving, Part 1
A former Motoring Editor at the Telegraph, Erin combines a bike licence and race licence with a love of high-speed cars and penchant for embarrassingly low-speed crashes. Now she has two sons, she’s largely put her leathers to one side, preferring the cut and thrust of automotive industry debates and wondering which cars have Isofix…
‘You should do something on driving etiquette’ said my mate Nick as he took me somewhere last week in his new Skoda Octavia vRS estate (not a good suspension set-up for his heavily pregnant wife, it should be noted).
‘Like what?’ I asked.
‘Like, where’s it gone?’ he said.
And he lives in the leafy burbs of Haywards Heath, not the bad lands of Uckfield. If people are cutting up rough in the Heath, how bad must things be elsewhere?
I find it depends what sort of a day you’re having. If you’re in a bad mood, then the driving gods will be against you, and you’ll find no-one signals, everyone cuts you up, people start reversing without looking in their mirrors, others leave their fog lights on, or don’t put their lights on, or think side lights are perfectly acceptable in all but the pitch black of midnight.
But maybe driving etiquette is like the English language: an organic system in a state of constant evolution. I remember a Telegraph reader once asking Honest John, the paper’s motoring agony uncle, about indicating when changing lane. It was my opinion at the time that once should always signal when changing lane; John’s opinion was that if there was no other car in sight, one need not bother.
Are you a stickler for the rules or more of a pragmatist? And who makes for the safer driver?
All of this is irrelevant, however, when it comes to the middle-lane hogger. The Government’s crowd-pleasing initiative to clamp down on these utter idiots has made not one jot of difference, as far as I can see. In fact, there are more of them than ever, certainly on the M3, M25 and A3, where I do a lot of traveling. It matters not one iota how many drivers undertake them, or go aggressively from the inside lane, past them to the outside lane then all the way back in again. They can be flashed, they can be driven up the backside of, hooted at… they are impervious to the lot.
I watched, the other day, a woman, sitting in the middle lane when the inside was empty, shaking her head in self-righteous anger as someone undertook her. She was full of moral superiority at their rudeness, their dangerous driving. It had not occurred to her that she should not be able to be undertaken, slowly, and it did not occur to her to move to the inside lane after being undertaken. She just sat there, shaking her head.
In Baker’s Britain, or in fact any half-sensible democracy, the police would have seen her, pulled her over, asked her what on Earth she was shaking her head about, and confiscated both her licence and car. Possibly for ever.
Man, it makes me mad.
Images courtesy of Alan Cleaver and methodshop.com licensed under Creative Commons.