Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Driving with like-minded people

I recently spent 5 days back in my childhood country of Holland, driving all over the place in a rented Hyundai. It was a joy to be on roads with like-minded drivers. For the most part, they all obeyed the road signs, almost always used their indicators, waved people in to gaps, acknowledged such gestures, and drove like pros. Especially compared to the UK and my current home drivers in Utah. It was just so pleasurable to be surrounded by drivers who weren't texting, weren't talking on cellphones and who were so in tune with actually driving a vehicle on the road, that the whole traffic stream just works like a finely choreographed ballet.
Now that's not to say they're perfect - I saw the odd idiot move - but it was 90/10 between good drivers and bad, as opposed to 5/95 which is the split back in Utah.
And the less said about the UK drivers, the better.
The odd thing is, and not being a trained expert, bribed official or trained consultant I could be wrong on this - the driving in Holland is commensurate with their driver education which is long, comprehensive and strict. The driving in Utah is similarly commensurate, with their driver training being essentially that you know what a car is. Could it be, and perish the thoughts, that better driver training results in better drivers?


Anonymous said...

Lack of use, or misuse of turn signals is a huge pet peeve of mine. I believe it has less to do with education and more to do with learned selfishness.

Turn signal use is a way to let others know of your intentions beforehand so that they can plan their reaction ahead and make the experience safer for all. However, very few drivers in the US will show the courtesy of letting you into THEIR lane if you signal ahead of time. Very frequently drivers will even accelerate and tailgate to ensure you can't safely make your lane change. With negative reactions like those to the action of signaling, it is not surprising that so many people don't want to show their cards ahead of time and just swerve in without much warning or start signaling halfway through the lane change forcing you to brake instead of simply slowing down.

I'm not trying to excuse this behavior, I just wanted to mention I understand why some educated people decide not to signal because I have been on the receiving end of these negative reactions way to many times for always signaling.

Most people, simply don't care. These are the same guys who cruise on the left lane (not passing, just cruising many times on their cell phone while cars pile up behind them trying to pass); double park next/close to another double parked car on the other side of a 2 lane road completely blocking it; wait until the light goes green to indicate they will do a left turn on a shared left/straight lane; cut dangerously through 2 or more lanes to take their highway exit (sometimes signaling, as if that makes it safer); etc.

Anonymous said...

LOL.....Mr Anonymous just described how things are here in greece. And I have to say I agree with him on people not caring any more.
From my early days as a driver I realised that signaling is quite importand when on the road and I just trained myself on using them. Today, 13 years later and being a professional driver, my left figer just goes by itself on the turn indicator whenever I change lanes or turn.
But it's true, many times when I want to change lanes, many other drivers in the lane I wanna get into - who are far away and not right next to me- step on it to get to me and not let me get inside. Maybe it's because I drive an older car, they think that I may go slower and I'll cut their pace. Partly I give 'em right for this cause I do go a bit slower than others, (it's a 4 gear car), but when the rest of the trafic isn't actualy going much faster than me, this behaviour is totaly out of time. So I just say to them "burn baby burn.....your gas money.....hehehehe"
It's just a pitty that in order to learn how to drive safely you need to be on the road for a while, and when you're a new driver, you don't know many things about this whole driving thing. Additionaly, you're in the process of learning and it's hard to keep your mind focoused and do everything right. It's how humans operate.
But education has a lot to do with it, and I don't mean at school. I mean realy driving education from the driving instructor. And education on "on the road behaviour". Maybe we could call it more accurately "driving training" because when you're driving your car you're not only educating yourself but you're also being trained on driving techniques.
Here in greece, what you learn in the driving school is some basics on how to start and move and manouver your vehicle, and a little bit about where to stand on the road. Nothing on behaviour.
Only recently I heard driving instructors mentioning the "2 second rule" which means we're way behind other countries on driving education. It remains on the driver's discretion to learn about driving behaviour. If the driver thinks that he learned everything there is to know from his instructor, he won't search to find info on driving behaviour and what to look for and how to comunicate when on the road.
Sometimes I feel that things are like this so that drivers won't learn how to drive and it will be easier for the police to give away It brings money to the state.
And the law here states that changing lanes or turning without signaling results in an 80 euro fine.....yeah right....assuming you'll find a policeman to verify the violation...
I can't help thinking, if the state could monitor all the drivers who don't use their signals, and give tickets to them, it could make
Sorry for busting your chops guys
keep the shiny side up

Zach from Greece