Monday, August 26, 2013

A little observation goes a long way.

It never ceases to amaze me how many drivers can't see any further than the end of their own hood. Observation and adaptation, it seems, are dying art forms when it comes to the act of driving. It's become a regular occurrence now for me to see people pull up behind a car that is stopped with its hazard lights on, and then wait through two or three changes of traffic light before they realise that the stopped car isn't going anywhere. Honestly I'm not sure if it's a lack of observation or a lack of common sense. Either way, what normally happens is that they get tired of waiting and then reverse into the traffic behind them, or pull out to go around without looking in their mirrors first. Again - observation.
The same thing happens with target-fixated motorists too. I regularly see drivers follow buses to the side of the road and stop behind them (because the bus is stopping to pick someone up). I've even seen cars follow a bus into a proper bus stop before.
When I'm travelling along a largely empty road with no traffic behind me, it's now quite normal for people to pull out from the side roads in front of me, instead of waiting the extra two seconds to go behind me where there's no traffic. In Utah this is doubly bad because around here people are deathly afraid of acceleration. So when I say "pull out" what I mean is they take their foot off the brake and let the automatic gearbox and idling engine slowly amble them out into the main road, thus becoming an obstruction.
The natural progression of this inattentiveness normally leads to accidents. The most common one around here is people who can't see or hear (apparently) the large red, white and blue trams with bright headlights and loud horns that operate in our streets. The evening news is regularly filled with stories of people trying to turn left in front of moving trams, or trying to race them across intersections. OK in a car it's a little harder to see out and hear the tram maybe, but you'd think that most people would see them as they drive past, before turning in front of them. You'd be wrong. Similarly, pedestrians and cyclists also seem to have a great deal of trouble with trams too. One thing's for sure - the tram never loses.
Finally of course, observation when it comes to pedestrians using phones and iPods isn't a dying art. It's just dead. You just have to assume, as a driver, that these morons are going to step into traffic in front of you without looking. They don't need pedestrian crossings - anywhere will do. And coupled with the increasing inattentiveness of the drivers, you can see where that normally ends up.