We’ve just arrived home from a 3 mile drive from Douglas Centre. We’re lucky we’re in one piece. I’m a stickler for the rules while driving at the best of times, but tonight was something else. It clarifies what I have been saying; that driving standards are poor. The attitude that seems to be pervasive across all drivers is “I’ve passed my test, I can drive how I like”.
Consider these events this evening:
- 5 people failed to indicate
- 1 person (large van driver) indicated to pull out of the side of the road, but the following cars proceeded to overtake him anyway. This, despite the inevitable blind spot vans have.
- 1 person fails to appreciate how roundabouts work
- 1 person stopped his car in the middle of Bray Hill, straddling a carriage way while pulling out
- 1 driver launched himself out of the St. Ninian’s garage (a blackspot indeed) without looking causing us to apply an emergency stop
- 2 drivers jumping out into slow moving traffic because we were leaving junctions clear, only to block those junctions with their huge four wheel drives
This is testament to the appalling standards of driving. Not only that, it shows how selfish drivers can be. It is Friday evening and they want to get home. Sod you, sod everyone else. This is not just a driving failure, it is a humanity failure. I detest driving due to this abhorrent attitude to others. While driving is a necessary evil, it strikes me that the application of the rules of the road is lax and maintenance of one’s own driving ability non-existent.
This is what I propose.
A periodic review of driving standards for all drivers, more regular for the over 60′s. This should take the form of either a booked lesson or two with an approved driving instructor to help iron out bad habits that will inevitably have been accumulated over the years. This would be an ideal opportunity to update the driver with the latest changes in road traffic law, best practice and provide the opportunity for introspection. If the driving instructor feels that the driver is not taking these lessons on board or is a danger to himself or others, then they should be able to recommend to the authorities that a test be re-taken. I would propose every 7 years for this. If you don’t conduct this “refresher”, you get disqualified and have to take your test again.
More traffic police need to be employed to actively pursue bad driving. Even driving round in a marked car will have the effect of improving standards. In addition, the reporting of bad driving needs to be made easier. For example, in a recent incident, I reported a driver who was on the mobile phone while driving. It took days for the Police to arrive (though it was during the recent snow, so can understand why) only to be told, “It’s your word against hers”. What about phone records? “She could say it was someone else using the phone”. Fair enough, this wouldn’t necessarily secure a conviction, but it must be enough to generate a warning, which I was assured would happen. Bad drivers aren’t likely to go out to be bad drivers, they need reminding of their behaviour. A periodic warning should keep it in mind that their driving affects others.
While I do not like the idea of “big brother” monitoring our every move, I do think that black boxes in cars would be an excellent idea. This would allow quantatitive data to be collected from a vehicle after an accident or reported incident. This would track brake application, acceleration, speed, wheel spin, location of the car, even detection of mobile phone use. This would help secure convictions but would surely drive down the cost of insuring drivers. If the data could be downloaded from the device by the authorities and added to your insurance record, then drivers would be less willing to take risks. As trains and aeroplanes have black boxes to record why incidents occur to contribute to injuries and deaths, so should cars.
Speed limiting cars is also an idea I would consider. The speed limit on British Roads varies from 20mph to 70 mph on motorways. There is no reason why a road car needs to go above 80mph, so a limit should be applied to prevent such driving. This gives the car the ability to drive at 70mph and be able to speed up to take avoiding action if required. If the car needs to be able to drive faster than the speed limit of the country, such as where speed limits are not applicable on certain roads (for example, the Isle of Man), the driver should be required to take an advanced driving course.
One aspect of driving on the Isle of Man that can cause problems is the lack of an MOT. In the UK, an MOT assures the driver and the authorities that their car is road worthy. This is not required on the island, which means cars regularly drive around with faulty lights, noxious exhaust fumes and dents of varying seriousness. While drivers seem to be unable to use their indicators at the best of times, having a working indicator in the first place is a start.
Maybe now is the time to post all the pictures I have of drivers illegally parking, using hazard lights to park while getting chips, crashes as a result of jumping red lights, etc. I am seriously considering getting some sort of camera gear such as that used by the owner of the Fight Bad Driving site, to record evidence and report it. It seems no-one else is interested in adequate driving standards, after all. It’s interesting to read about the abuse and death threats that site owner has received from people who have no business people allowed near humanity, let alone a vehicle.