The thrill of highway driving during the Christmas Holidays.
Folks, this Christmas a lot of us will be on the highways of Fortress Australia, and if there’s one thing I love, it’s driving along an empty, open road.
At those times, I think very favourably upon any government which has gone to the time and trouble to pave hundreds of kilometres of highway just for my driving pleasure.
Sadly of late, I appear to be spending a lot more time at the other end of the driving spectrum, puttering along a beautiful stretch of road trapped behind any of the following: slow moving caravans, stone throwing trucks and far too many diesel engine vehicles belching black fogs of exhaust smoke all over my car.
NOTE: the latest V8 Toyota 4WD’s don’t belch dirty diesel fumes, but they do have approximately the same get up and go as a dead racehorse. They appear to have a top speed of 80kph, but I have witnessed one doing 85kph and immediately assumed it had just been stolen by criminals who prized comfort over speed during their getaway.
Now, this holiday driving season, when you’re not being held up by a spectacular number of roadworks, slow moving farm machinery and suicidal native animals you’ll generally find yourself encountering one or more of the following Motoring Morons:
One Speed Wonders – Drivers who travel at one speed wherever they go, usually 75kph. It doesn’t matter if they’re on a freeway, highway, country lane, dirt track, suburban road, school zone or hospital carpark, that’s the one speed they’re happiest at.
The real wonder is how they don’t get booked for speeding in slower zones? They should be booked for holding up long lines of motorists on the open road though.
Funnily enough, I can live with following vehicles maintaining such a leisurely pace (obviously not through a hospital carpark). Once you know what their one speed is, you can drop back a few car lengths, set the cruise-control and enjoy the surrounding scenery, daydream, clean out the glove box or clip your toenails until the next passing opportunity appears (while praying they don’t speed up to stop you from going around them).
Which brings me to the next group of driving bozos:
Leaders of the Pack – people who Drive at the speed of a stoned wombat, and no matter where these slow-moving dopes go, they can only feel true joy when they have 20 or more vehicles trapped behind them.
Please note, there are only two occasions when their right foot will find the accelerator:
- When they pull out in front of you from a sideroad onto the highway, usually forcing you and the truck behind you to execute emergency braking tactics to avoid slamming into them.
After you manage to get your car to stop sliding all over the road, your heart stops hammering in your ears and your breathing returns to normal, you will be dismayed to discover that this reckless idiot has nearly killed you in order to travel at 20 to 30kph below the posted speed limit.
2. The only other time these galah’s worship Our Blessed Lady of Acceleration is when an overtaking lane appears. Just as your getting ready to consign them to a distant spot in your rear vision mirror, they slam their accelerator pedal into the shag pile in order to maintain their rightful place at the front of their very long and frustrated queue.
To get around them you generally have to reach the sort of speeds encountered at Mt Panorama raceway. Speeds for which, if you are caught by the constabulary, you will spend an awful lot of time acquainting your backside with a bicycle seat.
Leaders of the Pack don’t have a problem with this, because it’s not them getting booked, it’s you.
Note: I have heard urban legends about Leaders of the Pack being pulled over and fined for speeding up on overtaking lanes and not letting other drivers pass them, but I’m yet to see it for myself. Still, we live in hope.
But it’s the third group of dropkicks who really get up my nose:
The Stop and Go Brigade – drivers who can’t sit on one speed for more than three seconds. One moment they’re on 83kph, the next they’re doing 54, then 107, then, 62 etc.
It’s like they have some sort of affliction, like leg palsy or a spasming right foot.
But their worst crime, for which there’s a special place in hell for these folks, is unexpectedly slamming on their brakes for no obvious reason.
For this sin alone they should be pulled over, dragged into the bush and shot in the head… twice.
If you get stuck behind one of these special people, don’t make the rookie error of taking your eyes off them, not even for a split second. If you do, these mouth breathers will immediately stand on their brake pedals and force everyone behind them to scatter off the road to avoid slamming into the back of them.
I’ve spent a great deal of time wondering why they do this and still can’t think of a logical reason for their almost suicidal behaviour.
- Maybe they need a new car and hope you’ll write theirs off in a rear end collision?
- They’re checking to see if you’re still awake and alert?
- Perhaps they like being abused by passing motorists and getting punched in the face at service stations?
- Possibly, they got their drivers’ licence in 1978 and this is the first time they’ve driven since that momentous day and their anxiety is through the roof?
To be honest, I’m starting to lean heavily towards the only explanation which makes any sense:
- They simply enjoy being utter arseholes.
On three occasions during my 30 plus years of driving, I have pulled over when one of these driving dipsticks have stopped for fuel, in order to learn why they drive like they do.
I still don’t have an answer, because not one of those encounters ended well.
The stupid shits I confronted looked genuinely surprised to hear they are a menace to society. They literally couldn’t comprehend how their idiotic highway habits nearly caused several pile ups and came close to killing them along with several other motorists.
Instead, they had the Trump-like belief that they were perfect drivers, and everyone else was at fault.
Here’s a hint dummies, if everyone who passes you (eventually) is hurling insults, throwing stuff at your car, trying to run you off the road or pointing a loaded crossbow in your general direction, then there’s a better than average chance that you could be ‘The Problem’.
Anyway, of the three people I spoke to (calmly and with very slow hand movements), two of the braver/stupider ones loudly abused me. At which point I weighed up enjoying five minutes of beating them senseless with their own windscreen wipers, versus spending several years in prison for semi-aggravated assault.
I chose to walk away and let them return, unscathed, to the highway, where they continued to commit motoring mayhem while ignoring the honking of horns, screams of terror and screeching tyres.
Unfortunately, if this year is any indication, the number of drivers joining The Stop and Go Brigade appears to be growing. My hopes for some sort of highway Darwinism that would eradicate them and allow the rest of us to sail by unharmed are fading fast.
So now I’ve got all Zen about these carnage creating clowns. As Jesus once said, ‘The poor will always be with you’, well, so too will the slow-driving, brake stomping zombies be in front of us.
And they’ll remain so until the day when cars become autonomous, i.e.: self-driving.
At which point, no matter what your driving style, if the sign says 100kph, your car will do 100kph, no more no less; whether you like it or not.
Better yet, any cars behind you will also be doing the same speed, at a safe braking distance, and the occupants will be free to safely enjoy the scenery, read a book or watch a movie.
Of course, there will be the Manual Mode option for those of us who enjoy the thrill of driving (Note: I don’t like the term Control Freak, I prefer Situationally Involved).
With a bit of luck the next generation of vehicles will come equipped with a sensor which will prevent you from doing any of the following in Manual Mode:
- Driving like a complete dickhead
- Falling asleep.
- Drink driving.
- Letting a queue of 36 vehicles build up behind you.
- Slamming on the brakes for no particular reason.
I envision this smart sensor will send a series of increasingly violent electric shocks through your steering wheel and seat until you let the on board computer to take over driving; sensibly and safely.
It’s probably closer to becoming a reality sooner rather than later.
But, failing that, my only other hope is to obtain some roof mounted rocket launchers.
I reckon that’s one app Mr. Elon Musk could really go for on his next gen Tesla’s. I think I’ll write him a letter the next time I’m stuck behind a One Speed Wonder.
Until then, Happy Motoring!