Driving and I have a love hate relationship. After managing for years without a car to call my own, I finally had to commit to buying one as I am living in the middle of nowhere. I mean, I guess I could have survived without one if I wanted to rely on my mother to chauffeur me everywhere like I was 14 again. But a 26 year old needs her freedom, even if she is living at home with her parents for the first time since she was 18!
I have been used to driving in a city with traffic lights, yellow boxes, roundabouts and other things I took for granted like stop signs, speed limits and drivers using their indicators to signal left and right turns. Now I’m faced with boreens, ditches, cows crossing, potholes and cars taking bends at incomprehensible speeds. We all passed the same driving test, but I swear that people in the country have created their own rules of the road handbook that they haven’t told me about!
A Short Guide to Driving in the Country
1. The speed limit is 50km/h, so naturally all vehicles must drive at at least 70km/h. If you’re moving at the legal speed limit, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Road users may of course overtake on a single white line while going around a dangerous bend, at night, in the rain, with limited visibility (this happened to me tonight!)
3. Double yellow lines actually permit people to park their cars there. And next to the cars that are parked there. Why would you have a two way road when cars travelling in both directions can just share the one lane?
4. Stop & Slow signs are just suggestions. If you feel like obeying them, that’s great, but don’t feel obligated to.
5. Indicators are optional. People know enough of your business already, they don’t need to know where you’re going too!
6. Driving to the pub, having five pints, and then driving home again is a perfect example of safe driving.
7. When driving behind a vehicle adhering to the speed limit, you must drive so closely behind them that they feel your ever pressing presence. This shows solidarity amongst road users and reassures the car in front that you know your rules of the road. Sure don’t we all know that only a fool obeys the two second rule!
8. If there is no parking, it is perfectly acceptable to abandon your car in the middle of the street obstructing on-coming vehicles. Sure you’ll only be a minute.
9. Answer your phone while you’re driving. Texting without swerving is a skill everyone must master. It’s more important to find out who’s on the other end than to pay attention to the road.
10. It does not matter what speed you are driving at as long as you’re familiar with the road you are on. Other drivers, pedestrians, animals cannot influence your driving in any way.
I started writing this as a tongue-in-cheek post that should not be taken as fact. But I found myself getting more and more angry at my experiences of driving on rural roads. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen my fair share of dangerous city drivers also, but I feel there is less room for error in a city. Driving is more structured, and designed for safety. Road safety is something I am extremely passionate about. I have had several friends, and many more acquaintances, taken from this life prematurely because of dangerous driving. Since moving away from a city, it’s no surprise to me that the majority of fatalities on Irish roads happen in rural areas. There is a post in here somewhere for another day, but for the meantime I wish people would just slow down.
Just because you know the roads well does not mean you are invincible. Just because you feel in control driving a speed above the legal limit, does not mean that you can put other driver’s lives in danger. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
This Day Last Year – 21st November 2013 – Certain Uncertainty
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