Thursday, 21 August 2008

On roundabouts...

Y'know, it's rather amazing. Your average motorist does maybe 25 to 45 hours of training behind the wheel in the learner car, before being permitted to take and probably pass his or her driving test. He or she is then (with a few restrictions for new drivers) allowed to do pretty much any kind of driving they like, provided that it's within the rules and guidelines of the Highway Code, Road Traffic Act, and the Construction And Use Regulations, which,to be fair, are fairly relaxed.

Then they start to learn bad habits. Like ploughing through amber traffic lights (and lets' be honest, we've all done that from time to time), blocking yellow box junctions (I try not to do that, especially when driving a bus, as it's now expensive on the fines!), and so on.

However, my pet hate, at the moment (it'll change. Pet hates are like that!) are roundabouts. Specifically the hair brained gormless half wit muppits (and that's the polite version, folks!) who fail to recall that those to the RIGHT have priority to (1) enter the damn thing, and (2) go first in all cases. This is most noticeably the case at so-called mini-roundabouts, or as I have recently come to start calling them, targets.

Why targets? Think shooting. If you're really lucky, you'll get the car that just shoots on without even looking at about mid-way along he car with the front of your vehicle, nicely "T-Boning" it. Bingo, you and your hapless hamburger have just won a prize! In my case, while driving a bus, you're more than likely to be totally irrevocably and completely dead. I'm not joking. Buses will not stop on a dime: They weight upwards of seven and a half tons for the short single-decker darts, up to maybe 19 tons fully laden for a full-size double decker. And you wanna play chicken against all of that with your Nissan Micra? Good bleedin' luck. You're gonna need it.

Case in point. The road in question is a four and a half way target junction (four ways plus a fifth just off one of the junctions). I'm on the southern entrance, just entering it, having slowed to a crawl to check to my right that I'm not about to carve some poor sod up. Nope, road clear; I do a quick scan left right and ahead, all clear (darn well should be at one in the afternoon!), and begin to enter properly - and slam on the anchors. Every one of the aged passengers (it's a granny route) kiss the headrests, writ large. The 4x4 driver didn't even look, he just zoomed through, left to right. Hell, I never even had time to stick on the horn! Thank the stars for forward facing CCTV, or I'd probably be looking at a lost licence right now - two of the passengers were suffering some very painful facial injuries, no joke. Luckily, as I was doing maybe 5 mph, so no broken bones, but the bruising on one lady whose glasses had first impact with the seat back were not nice at all.

It's a hell of a shame that we never got the licence number of the 4x4. We got a lovely shot, I am told, of the driver though. Initially for the first half second, it shows him, in profile, apparently jabbering away on his phone travelling at near-relativistic speed left to right across the screen. This then changes as in the blink of an eye he's looking right at the bus (I never noticed this, I was concentrating too hard on landing ten tons of mass on the brake pedal at the time), eyes wide in fear, dropping his mobile phone (it's apparently blurred as it falls, but unmistakable according to the CCTV officer at my depot), and swerving slightly (seems he jerked the wheel as well).

So, there he is. Framed in glorious technicolour. Not that it'll do us any good. There's so many 4x4s driven on our roads that without the registration plate number, it's impossible to know who the half-wit is. So he's also the luckiest bloody 4x4 moron in London as well, dammit. Wish I'd been a bit faster on the pedal, to be brutally honest. I can sure-fire guarantee that an impact square onto the side of the bus WOULD have stopped him, no arguments.

So, in the hope that you're a driver, do us all a favour. Drive like you were taught. STOP before entering a roundabout (at the very least, slow to a dead crawl), and look before you do something that might result in a fatal collision. And finally, DON'T USE YOUR PHONE while driving!

Ahem :)

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