Monday, October 17, 2016

Aggressive Driving

I may have made some mention of this on more than one blog post, but I'm going to mention it again. Drivers in and around Milton Keynes can be excessively aggressive. I have on more than one occasion had to contend with drivers coming up behind me when I'm out in the car, and attempting to get me to go faster. When I was learning to drive (and it's a good many years since I past my Driving Test.) was taught to drive within my safe limits, for example, not driving at such a speed that I'd feel out of control or too fast. Obviously you would attempt to drive within the legal speed limits (i.e. 30 mp.p.h. in a built up area and up to 70 m.p.h. on open country roads and Motorways.) Around Milton Keynes the speed limit on the Grid Roads is 70 m.p.h. which is a shock to me. There are very few long stretches of road between the various roundabouts which would allow you enough distance to get up to a relatively high speed before you have to slow down at a roundabout. Some drivers seem to think that they don't need to slow down at a roundabout when they arrive and can just speed across, taking very little heed of traffic coming onto the right, giving way etc etc as you are supposed to do (according to the Highway Code.) If you just happen to drive with any care and attention and stop at a roundabout and obey the rules and check before attempting to enter the said roundabout, and a somewhat aggressive drive comes up behind you, some have the idea that they can intimidate you in such a way that you will risk your life  by moving into the traffic when you are sure it is unsafe to do so. Some will even hoot you in order to make you move, even if you are only a fraction of a second late in moving, according to them. Which can be very off-putting.

When I worked as a home carer and used to spend a lot of my time driving from one 'call' to another, I had the misfortune to come across quite a bit of aggressive driving. I was on my way to one evening call, driving along Fulmer Street towards Bletchley at a safe speed. A large van came up behind me, with three young men inside it, or so I could see in my rear-view mirror. They didn't seem to appreciate the speed I was driving nor the fact that I was simply in their way. The driver came right up behind me and seemed to be attempting to get me to move faster, which I refused to do. Then he began moving from side to side across the road behind me, ziz-zagging about across the road, weaving too and from across the road. I found it somewhat frightening and, considering I had had a heart attack, not doing my blood pressure a lot of good. In fact, I had to find a lay-by and pull over to let them pass. Very intimidating experience and totally unacceptable behaviour.

On three occasions I was run into by drivers on roundabouts which had a very detrimental effect on me. In all the years I have driven a car I have never been run into. On each occasion it was not pleasant. My car was damaged and only on one of the three occasions did the driver stop to see whether I was alright.

Last Sunday we drove to Waitrose, which is about  two miles from home down Chaffron Way. On the way out we had to circulate the carpark to get out and came across a car coming in. It was going at an excessive speed and unless we'd stopped when we did we'd have hit it. The female driver was so fixated on getting where she was going, she had no intention of slowing down. It seems that these people who behave in this way are being selfish. We seem to have produced more and more people, and particular car drivers, who have become self-centred. It appears that they are becoming more and more selfish. We are producing even more people, particularly on the internet, on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, who can say quite unpleasant things to people, particularly contestants on such things as 'Strictly Come Dancing' or 'The Great British Bakeoff', which they would never say face to face. It seems it's O.K. to say these unpleasant things on-line, in writing, but not in a direct way to their face. It's as if it wouldn't hurt that person, but actually it does have a psychological effect. A gradual build up of nastiness probably has more effect on someone like this rather than to their face, and this is the same thing as drivers out on the roads. Getting cut up on a roundabout (which has happened to me and Carol on quite a few instances.) does have a marked effect on your confidence as a driver.

Then, on two more occasions on driving out of Waitrose's car park, and in barely two minutes, we came across more of this aggressive driving from other people. We had to come out of their carpark and head left towards the roundabout at Monkston Park and another driver, yet another female, hooted at us to get out of the way because we didn't move fast enough for her. Just plain rudeness in my opinion and then one more, similar, as we approached the roundabout at Eaglestone, at what is called 'Four Bridges.' (So named because of the four foot bridges over the Grid Roads at this point in the road system.)

Several years ago Carol was involved in a car accident at one of the roundabouts on Fulmer Street early one morning. She was waiting in a queue of vehicles at the roundabout when a taxi cab came crashing into the queue. The force of the car crashing into the car at the back of the queue was so great that it forced the car she was driving to cause it to run into the car immediately in front that it got caught onto the tow bar. It gave Carol fairly a serious whiplash injury.  The driver of the car that caused the accident was not paying what they called 'undue care and attention.' No doubt he was using his mobile phone at the time, but certainly not concentrating. I see quite a lot of drivers using their mobiles as they're driving. The most disturbing was when we were driving up the M1 a few years ago and got caught behind a lorry, but as we passed we could see the driver using his mobile. I think he was texting. It doesn't bear thinking the sort of accident he might have caused had he wobbled as he was driving that lorry.

The other concern is what I hear in the news on television about people deliberately causing accidents on the roads in order to make insurance claims. It makes me wonder at time, knowing this sort of information, whether that is what a great many of the cases I've mentioned of 'aggressive driving' is deliberate so as to cause such an accident and then claim on insurance. When people cut you up on a roundabout or those that don't stop at a roundabout, it makes me wonder whether it's deliberate to make a fraudulent insurance claim. Then there's cases of 'road rage', caused when a driver is driving too slow and then being assaulted by a driver who couldn't wait for that slower driver to move out of the way. When knives are used, fists fly and so on, it can be quite scary.

Another recent incident happened the other morning. We drove to Tesco's at Oldbrook. It would have been around 7.15-7.20. We turned into Oldbrook Boulevarde from Strudwick Drive and had just turned left from the roundabout. We were driving through a section of road where there were two carriage-ways, the road being divided down the centre with a paved area. We drove at a reasonable speed, considering it was a built-up area, so the speed was 30 m.p.h. Then a car appeared at speed behind us. It would have been reasonable to expect the driver to merely follow us at 30, but now, he couldn't wait, and shot past us at at least 50-60 m.p.h. All I can say is, thank goodness that there wasn't another vehicle coming in the opposite direction. It was very scary. The driver was laughing as he drove past. It took us quite a while to recover from the shock. Just another incident where it was aggressive driving. It was a pity that there were no speed cameras to record the incident. This is what it needs to stop this sort of behaviour, but, unfortunately, these drivers get away with this behaviour because there are never any police around to see what is going on and then charge them with reckless driving. It's the innocent driver or passer-by who gets injured when things go wrong and an accident occurs.

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