I’ve had it with bad driving during lockdown

Irrelevant photo of the Lotus Seven S II used in ‘The Prisoner’ TV series 

At first I thought it was just me. But many people I have spoken to have agreed that since lockdown, drivers have gone feral.  People are speeding more often, switching lanes recklessly darting between traffic and behaving like idiots.

This view is also borne out by a study by motoring organisation the AA.   The survey questioned almost 20,000 motorists, asking them how they felt about different road users’ behaviour during the coronavirus lockdown. It shows that one in four motorists thinks the standard of driving in the UK has worsened while the country has been in lockdown. The Police have confirmed this and, allegedly, are taking it seriously.

Is it because there’s something in the Kung Flu that has numbed people’s brains, or is it the effects of lockdown?  Is lockdown making people angry about being cooped up, or making them feel they are being over-controlled so they want to rebel by driving just as they like?  Or is it the overconfidence of driving on a slightly more open road?  Police have admitted that motorists in the UK are taking advantage of quieter roads during the lockdown to speed and that they are driving more dangerously and putting the lives of key workers and others at risk.

Police say there has been a noticeable increase in drivers committing the more serious offences. Despite a massive decrease in the volume of traffic on UK roads since the coronavirus lockdown began on 23 March, the number of people being caught speeding is up by as much as 57%. In Greater Manchester there have been instances of a driver doing 134mph on a 40mph road and one reaching speeds of 129mph on the M62. In other parts of England there are similar instances and so far the record is 192mph on a Northampton country road.  I can’t find any statistic to show whether speeding has resulted in more accidents but stats from Europe and the U.S. show that whilst there have been fewer crashes in lockdown there have been more fatalities due to speed.   

Of course, convictions for driving offences are down, but that is not surprising when you consider the Police have given up policing and let offenders off because they can’t be bothered doing the paperwork. One driver had a notice from Essex police confirming that he had been caught speeding but that no further action would be taken “due to issues relating to the coronavirus”. What?

Research from price comparison site MoneySuperMarket.com looked at data from more than six million insurance quotes and it gives an interesting insight as to who were most likely to have convictions.   Trades-people top the list with roofers are the most likely to offend (around 610 convictions per 100,000 drivers) while scaffolders and plumbers round out the top three. This comes as no surprise to me.

We are talking here about white van man. And it doesn’t matter that he drives vans of all colours.  He is the cretin of the road, always rude, often tailgating, hogging the middle lane, doing 80mph whilst thinking at 20mph. White van man is either in a hurry (yet strangely – always late if I have business with him) or he’s in a trance, eating a bacon sandwich and slowing me down. 

The AA study identifies cars and cyclists as the worst behaved road users but surprisingly the survey revealed that 12% of respondents thought truckers (HGV driver) were better behaved than before.

It’s clearly not the car’s fault if it’s driver is an idiot, but there’s something about BMWs, black Audis and VW Golf GTis that attract idiots, so I feel they are in some way to blame.  It’s like they expect their drivers to prove something.  Many other cars are just as fast; it’s just that the drivers of other cars are not possessed idiots.

And, HGV drivers ‘better behaved’? I’m not having that.  My experience is that truckers on motorways are becoming more aggressive and less considerate.  They think that because of their size they can pull into an overtaking lane whenever they like, often the second they decide to signal, with no consideration of the flow of traffic in the overtaking lanes.  I can usually spot the bully and although wary of his intentions, I won’t be intimidated and move over at a second’s notice, much to the distress of my wife in the passenger seat. 

A quarter of respondents in the AA study said those on two wheels were behaving less courteously than before lockdown – which again is no surprise to me.

I think cyclists have gotten too used to having quiet roads in the first lockdown and now they resent the presence of any other vehicles. Well they need to get used to traffic again – traffic that actually pays road tax.  It’s the serious cyclists that are the worst.  These arrogant ‘lycra louts’ have no regard for the law or me. They jump red lights, ignore traffic signs and use the footpaths to avoid obstacles on the road.  They also ride two or more abreast, position themselves in the middle of the lane and refuse to use cycle lanes.  And they can’t hear my expletives because they’re wearing headphones.

You may think by now that I am prone to bouts of road-rage but my mindfulness classes, drugs and threats from my wife keep me firmly in control of my actions.  The RAC Report on Motoring has stated road rage has doubled in the last 12 months, and as many as 30% of drivers said they have personally witnessed some form of physical abuse related to a driving incident.  Acts of road rage fall under different sections of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and there is quite a list of ‘gestures’ which can land you a penalty for ‘disorderly conduct’. For example, any driver caught making a “rude hand gesture” behind the wheel could be slapped with a fine of 75 per cent of their weekly wage, capped at £1,000.

So what conclusions should we draw from all this. First, it’s best not to drive if you don’t have to. It’s not good for the environment, it’s not the time for unnecessary travel, and it’s not a perfectly safe form of transportation.  Second, use a bicycle if you can, but be humble and considerate or someone may kill you. Third, be wary that the number of idiot drivers is increasingly exponentially (I reckon the R rate is at least 10).  Don’t trust anyone.  Fourth, you can never use too much horn, light flashing or two fingered salutes to drivers that are genuinely inconsiderate in my view, but, bear in mind this could backfire if you are seen by a policeman (what are the chances?) or recorded on a dash cam (more likely).  And fifth, get a dash cam and nail those dangerous drivers.   My wife is insisting I get one because she says sooner or later my attempts at reprimanding idiot drivers will get me punched and with a cam I might at least have some legal recourse!

 

Author: Paul

I am a retired, married bloke, dad and grandad - growing old with attitude.

One thought on “I’ve had it with bad driving during lockdown”

  1. I have to say that I agree with much of your rant here, Paul. However, I would point out that White Van Man has taken to disguising himself in grey or black alternatives, often with blacked-out windows. But maybe these are BMW or Audi drivers in training, or slumming it.

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