TL;DR – Learn to drive, you inconsiderate pricks.
To people who know me there’s no secret in what I do for a living. I’m a truck driver. I drive a Very Large Vehicle. Being that it’s my day job to drive around the roads of England for 7+ hours a day I see a lot. A lot of what I see makes me facepalm. Then shake my head. Then maybe have a little sigh. Unfortunately I’m not allowed to get angry at idiocy I see as I’m supposed to set a good example, being a “Professional driver”. Besides which, I like the idea of improving people’s generally very low opinions on truck drivers. We’re not all evil, arrogant, bullish, Etc. Some of us are nice. Honest.
The problem is this: the more I see, the more I wonder how people actually got their licence. Most of the time I figure that the examiner was just having an off day, or was sleeping. Or maybe it was a fluke. Or they managed to pass with 14 minor errors (out of 15 allowed) on their 9th attempt. Or maybe Kellogg’s was doing a give-away on the back of Corn Flakes boxes or something. Now I’m not one to pay attention to statistics (as we all know 83.54% of them are made up) or independently researched surveys or polls Etc. (as most of them decide on a result and fit the research to suit the answer they’re looking for). As a result I can honestly say that when people say that independent research shows that statistically women are better drivers than men I can laugh in their face and ask them if they actually pay attention to the roads, or if they drive with their eyes closed.
The worst people on the road, from my experience and observations of my 7+ hours a day, are Old People, and School Run Mums. Just down from them are the people with Very Big Cars, followed shortly by Very Important People. Let me explain.
Old people have been driving for years. Captain Obvious rears his head again, but it’s true. There is a problem with this, however – when they learned to drive cars were different, the roads were different, the rules of the road were different, there were less cars on the road, and they were, well, young. Cars have improved. They’re now faster. Old people haven’t figured this out yet, it would seem, and are quite content in pootling down a 60mph road at 25mph while being entirely oblivious to the danger they’re causing. Yeah I said it, going too slow is dangerous. Of course, this penchant for achieving a less-than-satisfactory speed is also down to one simple thing: Old People no longer retain the mental capacity or reflex speed to be safe on the road. Be it that they get confused and mix up which pedal does what, or they don’t react to a car braking in front of them quick enough, Etc. They’re dangerous. I am strongly of the opinion that a retest, or “evaluation” if you want to make it sound nicer, should be established for older people. Reach 65 and have a retest every 5 years from there. And yes I’d be perfectly happy to do it when I’m 65. As a truck driver I’m already going to be expected to have a medical test every 5 years from when I’m 45 onwards. It would be simple – test the old people. As far as I’m concerned ALL drivers should be able to show the same ability expected of driving examinees at ANY point in their driving life. The tests got harder for a reason.
School Run Mums are late. Always late. They needed to get their kids to school 5 minutes ago. Who cares that you’re doing a job and that you’re also running to schedule? Move out of the way because School Run Mum left the house late and the road belongs to her! Why didn’t she leave 5 minutes earlier? Because she always leaves at that time, and there’s never this traffic here, or this truck is never here. School Run Mum also has no idea how big her vehicle is. Either it’s a small car that can’t get through a gap big enough for a bus, and will complain about you being in the way, or it’s a big car trying to get through a gap far too small, and complaining about you being in the way. Also, the parking. Jebus Kristov the parking! Why, WHY, do you need a foot of space between the car and the curb? Or why do you need to park on awkward corners? Why do you need to turn up to the school 45 minutes (!) before kicking out time and proceed to park in the most in the way place possible, then refuse to move when you’re obviously blocking someone? Why do you need to park your car with the driver side door against the curb, and then unload your kids from the roadside? Seriously, how the hell is that teaching kids to be safe? Your door is in the road, blocking cars. Your kids are in the road, which go under cars quite nicely. Your ass is sticking out into the road, which I am constantly tempted to kick with the front end of my truck.
People with Very Big Vehicles. School Run Mums are often guilty of this, but there are a lot of other people who fit this category too. The kind of person who buys a big car, for no good real reason, and has no idea how big it really is once they’re sitting in it. Why do these people have such massive cars? Is it compensation for something? Do they feel more protected by it? Because they have a kid or two (which, for the record, can fit perfectly fine into pretty much any car so long as it’s not a 2 seater sports etc)? To be fair I only have one real problem with people with Very Big Cars – Everything. Ok, so not everyone with a Very Big Car lacks the ability to drive them; just most of them. If you lack spatial perception DO NOT GET A VERY BIG CAR! You end up doing the School Run Mum thing of trying for gaps too small, or not trying for gaps twice the width of the vehicle. This is dangerous, as if you cannot perceive the width of your vehicle in a slow maneuver then I dread to think what you’re like overtaking vehicles, or driving past parked cars at speed. Of course, Very Big Car drivers also have the idea that the bigger the vehicle the more right they have to the road. Wrong. Something I often like to teach them.
Very Important People aren’t very important at all, really. They just think they are. You know the type, big management job, or expensive car, or just arrogant people who think they own the road. All of them thinking they have the right to be where everyone else is at the exact moment they’re there, and how dare someone get in their way. The types that have to be somewhere right now, and you’re holding them up. The people who get angry at you for using your right of way instead of letting them invade it. The hand wavers. The shouters. The inconsiderate bastards who will block a junction just because they can’t stand the idea of that extra car in front of them. Oddly they’re mostly BMW and Audi drivers. Strange that, huh.
This post is going in a completely different direction to how I originally intended it, so allow me to get back on track.
I was triggered into writing this because of a particularly frustrating day trying to maneuver a 45 foot vehicle around a housing estate designed for cars (To whichever moron architect who designed Elvetham Heath: I hate you too) while idiot drivers had parked their cars in the most awkward places. I mean, the most stupid places. The places that caused all the obstructions that they could. People, please, listen. Just because you could get your car (small hatchback?) through that gap it doesn’t mean a 26ton truck can. You know what? That 26ton truck is doing you a service. Don’t block it.
All in all I just wish that there was more consideration on the roads. We all use it, and none of us like people being assholes to us while doing so. Why do it to other people? Think about what you’re doing, and how you’re acting. Look at how you’ve parked your vehicle and wonder if all vehicle types can get past. Worst case scenario, you just blocked access to a road (which is illegal, by the way) that an emergency vehicle is trying to get down. So you just caused a death, or a house to burn down, or both, all because of your lack of comprehension of space needed or allowed for larger vehicle types. Or was it just that you really are that arrogant? Probably.
I really wish there was less paperwork for damage caused to vehicles by industrial vehicles. Some people need their cars destroyed to learn a lesson.