The behaviour of inconsiderate drivers on the open road has already been examined in minute detail. Of course, self-centred behaviour is not evident only on state highways. The me-me-me style of driving can also be observed in the city and suburbs. From the way some people negotiate intersections (especially those with traffic lights) you'd be forgiven for wondering if they got their driver's licence in a Weetbix packet.
Here are the five key offences
Leaving a big gap:
When joining a stationary queue at an intersection, rather than getting close to the vehicle in front and stopping, some motorists come to a halt about two or three car lengths away. I've never understood what fuels this behaviour. I only know it's really annoying. It's made even worse when they spend the next few minutes inching forward then stopping then inching forward then stopping - causing the drivers behind them to join this ridiculous, needless, petrol-guzzling stop-start-stop-start dance. When this nasty habit also happens to prevent vehicles behind from taking advantage of a free left turn, it is doubly senseless.
Having slow reactions:
When the red light turns green, cars are allowed to proceed through the intersection. Most of us know this. But some of us don't realise it means we may continue our onward journey immediately, at once, without delay. Some people think a green light serves merely as a gentle reminder that when they've emerged from their daydream they might like to consider moving forwards at some stage in the not too distant future - hopefully before the unfortunate motorists stuck behind them die of old age, boredom, rage or all of the above.
At some intersections motorists get the green arrow to turn left at the same time as pedestrians crossing the street the car is planning to turn into get the walking green man. It's polite in such situations for the driver to remain in place until the last pedestrian has crossed but all too often the front turning car creeps menacingly closer to the people lawfully walking. It's intimidating and it doesn't save the driver any time. It's such an ingrained response that not long ago an elderly man actually gave me a wave once he'd reached the safety of the footpath. He was obviously grateful that (unlike a lot of drivers) I didn't move forward even a centimetre while he was crossing.
Running a red light:
It's dangerous and unlawful to run a red light but it's a serious problem in Auckland. There's never a legitimate excuse for this but it's within the realms of possibility that those people with the slow reactions (as mentioned above) may have inspired a few such manoeuvres from frustrated drivers determined to get through the intersection at any cost. Under-utilised green phases can sometimes have unanticipated downstream effects.
On occasion there's a car planning to turn right (out of, say, a car-park) with a driver intent on nudging its way into traffic already queuing at the lights. My thinking in such a situation is that this vehicle should join the queue once the green light is over and a new queue is slowly re-forming. But clearly there are many drivers happy to let in this new vehicle as soon as the light turns green. Firstly, I don't think this person's needs are more pressing that those of the drivers of the, say, twenty other cars already in this particular queue. Secondly, and most importantly where free-flowing traffic is concerned, letting in a new vehicle (which has to safely cross another lane from a standing start, make a turn and then accelerate towards the lights) means fewer vehicles already in line actually manage to get through that intersection on that particular phase. What really irks is that the supposedly considerate driver who chooses to instantly admit this vehicle is often the last driver to make it through. How authentic then is his (or her) supposed politeness if it comes at a cost to the motorists behind?
What's your traffic light bugbear?
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