Roddy Graham's blog: 21 July 2011 - Are driver standards falling?
21 July 2011
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
Despite the number of people killed in road accidents falling from 2222 in 2009 to 1857 last year - the lowest figure since records began in 1926 - am I alone in believing that standards of driving in this country are falling too? Over recent months I have been classifying certain types of drivers and have come up with the following types.
We all know that America has no roundabouts so it always comes as a shock to Americans when they come to Europe to discover these bumps in the road. Indeed, car rental companies are at pains to point out to New World arrivals the quirks of our road network and the roundabout in particular. While roundabouts may be a mystery to Americans why are they to a percentage of the UK driving population? There's nothing more irritating than arriving behind a driver at a roundabout who just remains transfixed on the spot waiting for all exits to clear before proceeding forward. And there are those drivers who seem almost too polite to go despite it being their rightful turn - "after you, no, after you!"
A familiar sight on motorways up and down the country is the driver who sets the cruise control or their right foot to a certain speed and sticks to it, whatever the conditions. Invariably, they are the ones hogging the middle lane despite there being no traffic in the inside lane. And when it comes to country roads, they are the ones who maintain a steady speed whatever the speed limit, usually 50mph whether on the open road or going through a village, totally oblivious to the school warning signs and the 30mph limit.
A new breed of driver, no doubt born out of rocketing fuel prices. With record prices being charged at the pumps, these motorists have decided that the only way to combat the hit to their pockets is to eke out every last drop from the tank and proceed to crawl everywhere to maximise their fuel economy. Yes, they're the ones you trip over doing a steady 35 to 40mph on a 60mph limit single lane road. Usually, you come across them just as you enter three miles of twisty bends without a hope in hell of overtaking. Chewing the steering wheel in frustration doesn't do any good either!
The accelerator is always found in a steady state of driving. He or she is quite content with their speed of travel until someone comes up behind them. Then, they suddenly wake up and it's a race to the next bend. The problem is the unnecessary stress and danger they place on the driver overtaking. Invariably, the safe overtaking manoeuvre suddenly become a test of wills and nerve for no apparent reason.
A familiar sight on our roads today is the driver with one hand on the wheel and the other placed next to their ear holding their mobile. Sometimes, they make a concession to road safety by placing both hands on the wheel but have their heads angled at an uncomfortable 45 degrees. In both cases, they usually have an inane grin on their faces, laugh a lot and make sudden tugs at the wheel. If they are prepared to really disregard the safety of themselves and other road users, they will be glancing up and down like a chicken as they text at the wheel. In such instances, the inane grin will have been replaced by a very studious expression. Unfortunately, they will be concentrating more on hitting the right letter than avoiding potential hazards on the road ahead.
So road deaths may be falling in the UK but so are traffic levels - two per cent last year. And so too are driving standards in my opinion. Any thoughts anybody? Have you come across another type that makes you cringe?
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