Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Do slow drivers drive you crazy?

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Slow vehicles at the front of queues on the highway are often trucks.Photo / Thinkstock
Slow vehicles at the front of queues on the highway are often trucks.Photo / Thinkstock

I rediscovered the annoying habits of other motorists on the open road when I recently drove from Auckland to Hawke's Bay in my car. The last few times I'd made this 428km journey was as co-driver of a horse-truck. Travelling at 90kph and having little need to pass anyone meant that on those occasions I'd been oblivious to many of the examples of poor driving that plagued this last trip. How do incompetent motorists bug me when I want to overtake them? Let me count the ways.

One: If a queue of cars builds up behind a slow vehicle on the road, some drivers have the unhelpful propensity to tailgate the leading vehicle with absolutely no intention of passing it themselves. This means that other drivers who actually do want to pass must find the clear space to overtake not just one but two vehicles at once. Since the slow vehicle at the front is often an extra long unit (like a truck and trailer) this effectively means the third car in the queue has to overtake the equivalent of three normal vehicles in one manoeuvre. It's not an impossible ask but it's clearly more dangerous and there are fewer opportunities to do so.

Whenever there's an unduly long snaking queue of vehicles on the road you can usually place the blame squarely on the less-than-astute driver of the second vehicle in line.

On Sunday, while travelling between Matamata and Tirau, I was the third vehicle behind (what looked like) an oversized crane that seldom went over 80kph. Travelling immediately behind this vehicle - which was so large it had its own pilot vehicle ahead - was a car towing a trailer. This driver sat in the industrial-sized vehicle's wake for many kilometres, giving no sign of intending to pass and leaving no space for any other car to fit between it and the leading vehicle. Thanks to this thoughtlessness, I would need to overtake the equivalent of about four standard car lengths in a single manoeuvre.

Although I'd been actively looking for a suitable passing spot for some time, the opportunity did not present itself so when the sluggish convoy of at least a dozen vehicles reached Tirau I was still third in line. Luckily, as soon as we turned left onto the main highway the guilty party pulled in to a service station. Elevated to second in line, I successfully passed the imposing front vehicle before Putaruru. It all ended well but no thanks to the driver of that green sedan towing the trailer who inconvenienced and potentially endangered many other road users that day. You have to wonder if he or she got his or her driver's licence as a free gift out of a cereal packet.

Two: If you're travelling slowly and want other cars to pass you, it isn't helpful to drive halfway off the road onto the shoulder at the left. I know you think you're giving them room but following motorists still need to wait for a clear passing spot before making the manoeuvre out onto the other side of the road. These verge crawlers think they're being considerate but, in fact, they are creating a hazard. If the motorist behind does want to pass, he or she will need to be following quite closely and is likely to get a stone flung up from tyres which are scuttling along in the loose metal at the road's edge ahead. Please, just stay in your lane and let me worry about passing you.

Third, and finally: I don't mind if the car ahead of me creeps through the curves and hills at a sedate 90kph but it's downright hostile if it then accelerates to 120kph in a passing lane and forces other motorists, who just know it'll be crawling again by the time it's past the passing lane, to seriously break the speed limit in order to overtake.

Do you share my bugbears about the habits of slow drivers or does some other example of bad driving irk you on the open road?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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