Over the past six months or so I’ve been privileged enough to drive regularly in a number of cities across the UK and Europe. Often in unfamiliar, left-hand-drive cars on roads I’ve never seen before, the potential for a mishap is never far away.
So far it’s all gone well, but after a long slog back north from Heathrow, I reach Lincoln.
One late afternoon recently, I found myself sat behind a car on the bypass, before overtaking it safely and pulling back in. Nothing wrong with the manoeuvre, but the driver felt the need to immediately flash his main beam at me and immediately re-pass at excess speed.
Although his dazzling bulbs evidently worked, despite the drizzle and dimly lit conditions, he clearly found his ordinary headlights wholly unnecessary, so didn’t bother turning them on. Similarly, his indicator lights must have been optional extras, as they didn’t flash either.
Following his demonstration of road-craft, his speed dropped from his testosterone-pumping 70mph plus to around 50mph, yet he remained resolutely in the outside lane. As I couldn’t undertake, I was obliged to match his speed, positioning myself so he could see me in his mirrors. Assuming he was using them, of course.
He eventually got bored, unleashed all his car’s engine could muster and scooted off, straight-lining the next roundabout, lights still unilluminated.
Shortly afterwards I was conscious I was being tailgated by another car – so close was he following that never mind his headlights (I’ll give him a point for them being on), I couldn’t even see the base of his windscreen. His face loomed so large in my rear view mirror I did a double take, at first thinking he was sat on the back seat. His intimidation tactics having failed, he eventually overtook me – on a blind bend.
The rain eased and the light improved, but it wasn’t long before I caught up another car, trundling along at 45mph despite the national speed limit signs and conditions indicating 60mph was fine.
With nowhere suitable to overtake I left a sensible gap before slowing to 30mph as we entered a village. The woman in front continued merrily along without seemingly losing any speed at all. Sure enough, village driven through and speed limit doubled I caught the car back up, its driver’s foot ensuring her accelerator pedal continued to dispense a frustrating 45mph.
I was unlucky that day to have encountered three displays of how not to drive over less than 10 miles of Lincoln’s roads, but rarely do I witness such frequent examples of inconsiderate wheelsmithery as I do within the city.
What is it that makes people so territorial over a six-metre length of traffic lane that their car’s sat in?
Is it really going to make you less of a person if you allow someone in from another lane when the ten in front of you ignored their pleading indicators too? Does it make you feel powerfully important ignoring the one way arrows around car parks?
Drivers showing a lack of consideration to others are in the minority, of course, and at times we’ve all been guilty of it. But courtesy costs nothing – remember that next time you see someone forlornly trying to escape out of a side road. Just think, they’ll get stuck at the High Street barriers before you.
Keith Jones is a self-confessed car geek from Lincoln with over 30,000 car books, magazines and sales brochures being testament to that. Keith took his first steps in motoring writing launching his blog in 2011, contributing to Autocar, BBC 5 Live, CBS and MSN in the following months. In 2013, he gave up his teaching career to become a staff writer at Parkers.