Stay on your side!

There's a reason why we have a rule (in UK it's apparenly not a law, but I dare say it's a 'rule', even if only of the 'thumb-type') saying which side of the road you're supposed to travel on. There's reason why, on most roads, there's some sort of indicator in the middle of the road to separate the lanes from each other.

And wait for it, the reason is; because it's really dangerous to be where you're not supposed to be. Yup, that simple. It's dangerous.
How come it's so difficult to get that?! Let me explain.

Human nature

We, human beings, all designed for a world where there's no cars, no bikes, no aeroplanes etc. We're designed to transport ourselves by foot. This is why you never hear of anyone dying from running into, say a tree. Because we're designed to cope with that. We can't go fast enough to kill yourself, and your brain is designed to figure out that you're not going to win the battle with the tree, hence your body has got a natural inclination to avoid the tree.

Sadly we are in one sense smart, and in another sense stuipd. We've invented other ways of travel. We've invented ways of travelling faster than we're designed for. This presents us with an array of completely different issues.

This is how we work. When we stand on a high cliff (think high rise building in a modern world), we're designed to be scared because falling down will probably kill us. This is a Good Thing. In the same way we duck for "dangerous" things above our head, such as tree branches, birds, stones that come flying towards us. Again, another good design quality. It's designed to save our a**es.

When we travel faster than designed something werid happens; we get stupid. Our brain can't actually handle the fact that we're travelling so fast that it's litterally unbelievable.

Think of it this way. You're running through a bushy forrest, very close to the bushes/trees/branches/etc, you're instinctively trying not to hurt yourself. You duck, sverve etc. Just as you're designed. Then imagine yourself doing the same route on, say a push bike or motorbike. You're going 3 - 5 times faster. And suddenly the same journey isn't as dangerous.

In other words when you're travelling faster than you're intended you can't comprehend all the dangers with it. This is a design feature. In "Ye Ole Days" we used to hunt things, and things used to hunt us (we taste like pork apparently?!). This meant that sometimes there were things faster than us coming straight at us. Think lion for example. If you would loose your composition when the lion is coming towards you, you would not be able to throw your spear into it and reverse the roles at the dinner table. That is, the reason for not being scared at high speeds is because you're designed to have a bit of a fighting chance to kill the lion that's thinking "yummy-yummy".

Right - you can comprehend falling down a high cliff, but you can't comprehend the same danger travelling horizontally... For this reason we can have two big pieces of metal, like cars, hurling towards each other at 70mph, and we think it's completely in control t pass each other with 50cm to spare in between. Nemas problemas. Have the same car go over a big hump at the same speed an get some "air" and we're suddenly in an adult Pampers advert.

Get off my planet, please

For the reasons mentioned above, you, dear car driver, think that it's OK for you to cut over to my lane just a bit - there's "obviously" no danger in it. Well, you're wrong. Sometimes things don't go to plan, if you look into your own history you migh recall things that "drastically altered your plans".

Every day I travel to and from work I'm confronted with cars cutting across to the oncoming lane (There's not many bikes on the route so I can't comment on that, and I don't travel on dual carriage ways to/from work).

On a bike, I can usually get away because my bike is narrower (and thus it seems like some driver reckon that it's not as bad if they cut across a bit more!?!). I say usually, because sometimes I might hit a crack, or some other undulation in the surface and that seriously unbalances the bike. I wouldn't wish that upon anyone.

In the car on the other hand, things get even more scary. Today I took the car into work, and at one point my left wheels were off the tarmac and the car using every means to not go in a straight line. This was all thanks to a huge SUV coming hurling towards me at a speed that was not really suitable on that road. It wasn't only the speed and size of the vehicle that was unsuitable, but the position on the road was completely out of order. That huge car had between 30 - 50cm of tarmac left to use on its left hand side. There was ickle me in an ickle car, almost getting rammed off the road because some woman was rushing her kids to school in a car that's more like a tank, and on a road that's more like a path, and definately using some of "my" side of the road.

It would have been OK if this only would happen in once in a blue moon, but no. This was the worst example of today, but there were about 8 or so more incidents of cars not sticking to their side of the road.

Corners and mini-roundabouts

On a straigh road you've got a fair chance to slow down and park your car in the vegetation to avoid the tank hurling down the road. But in a corner you haven't got a fighting chance. On my way into work, there's quite a few corners where cars regularily cut across. I think that it's more because of luck than skill that I've escaped unhurt. There has been so many "almosts" that I'm thanking my lucky star every time I arrive.

And in town, what's with the cutting across mini-roundabouts?! I regularily see drivers not giving a toss about even trying to go around the blob of paint on the road. Are you really that f***ing lazy that you can't even be bothered to turn your steering wheel?!? Shame on you!
I've been in near accidents so many times in town, just because someone wasn't bothered about going around the roundabout. Just plain dangerous.

The Solution is Simple

Listen up; the solution to this dangerous behaviour is really simple; stay on your side. Sounds too simple?! Well it is. Here's a few tips on how to actually manage to do it.

  • If you have to cut a corner you're probably just lazy, but on the off chance you're going to fast - slow down. (strange concept I know). Yup, slow down.
  • If you're too lazy to turn the steering wheel at a mini-roundabout, try to put the effort into perspective. For example, you don't have to carry all the junk you've got in your boot - like your spare tyre. Turning the steering wheel is not much of a chore compared to that. Just stop being lazy.
  • If you have to travel on small roads regularily, don't buy a huge car, like an SUV. It's not safer to have a big car and crash it into a small car because you both don't fit on the road, than having a small car and not crashing. Stop being stupid, buy a car that suits its environment (and an SUV doesn't have any environment it suits in).
  • If you find yourself regularily having to focus on cars coming towards you and that you're regularily "almosting" it to work/home/school/hairdressers, just slow down and show some respect to other people on the road.
  • Stop being so lazy - we all know it - you're just doing it because you can get away with it. There's times and places for being lazy; on the road, jeopardising other people, is not the time nor the place.

There you have it - it's not difficult to be a bit more thoughtful and careful.

If you know someone who's regularily "crossing the line" - point them to this article. With a bit of luck, we might be able to scrub a bit of that pr***ness off.
You might actually save a life or at least a serious accident. Back in my head I sometimes ponder how many "single" accidents can be accredited to "an unknown party" who at the time was crossing to the wrong lane. It's quite a realistic scenario isn't it?! You drive along, notice a car in your path, you swerve, you crash, and the other car just merrily continues its journey. Scary.
And while I'm at it, turn your lights on so we all can see each other.