With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemas?

I get carsick.

“That’s nothing special” I hear you say, “Lots of people get car-sick”.

Well, my type of carsickness is different. Every time I take to the road I end up with haemorrhoids. They’re painful and they give me grief.

But they’re not the kind you can get relief from by smothering them in cream. No, the type of haemorrhoid I get is the idiot who likes to drive less than a metre behind me, at any speed. I look into my rear-vision mirror and all I see is windscreen, replete with a totally idiotic facial expression staring back at me.

What is it with these people?

Do they think they’re Mark Webber?

Do they think they have the reflexes of a fighter pilot?

Or do they think the universe will protect them universally from all of their misguided, misplaced, misused confidence?

Whatever it is I’m so bloody over it I’m ready to detonate.

As a Riding Instructor I taught novice motorcyclists for nearly ten years, and in every course I had to drill into my students the fact that whenever you’re travelling behind another vehicle you need to leave space. It’s called “Crash Avoidance Space”, and by definition it’s the space you need to avoid a crash.

It is calculated as the distance your vehicle will travel in three seconds and is comprised of two parts, your reaction time and your braking time. It works like this – on average a person, when riding, will take approximately 1.5 seconds to react to a sudden, unexpected event, and once they recognise that they need to stop it will take them another 1.5 seconds to do so if travelling at 60kph. If you’re any closer than three seconds your chances of a collision increase dramatically.

Many factors affect this space, things like speed, tyre condition, tyre pressure, brake type, brake condition, road surface, rider ability and lean angle.

Allow the three second gap and you‘ve just given yourself the best chance of avoiding a crash.

The same is true when driving a car, however it would appear there are many drivers who simply do not get it. Either that, or they’ve never been made aware. The NSW Road and Maritime Service’s research shows that rear-end collisions account for 40% of accidents for fully licensed drivers and form the greatest percentage of all road vehicle collisions for Provisional drivers, accounting for 25% of their crashes. With that number you’d think there’d be a greater effort on education.

It’s been going on forever, of course, but over the last thirty years or so the huge increase in population and its commensurate increase in traffic density on our roads has, I feel, seen tailgating become an increasingly serious problem.

Tailgating is a bookable offence, however the Police have stated that until a link was established between tailgating and road fatalities they would be reluctant to dedicate resources to it. In 2010 Acting Assistant Commissioner Nick Fuller said tailgating drivers already risked fines of $338 and the loss of three demerit points. In 2009, 2251 drivers were fined for tailgating on NSW road, but in the wake of the 2009 road toll, police were focusing their resources on factors related to fatal crashes, Mr Fuller said.

“The focus is on speeding, impaired driving (drink-driving), seat belts and fatigue, which are the common factors in road fatalities.

“If there was a link between tailgating and fatalities, we’d definitely be acting on it.”

A few years ago I would ride my motorcycle on my daily round-trip commute of 140km to work and back, and a lot of that riding was done on the Motorway, travelling at speeds of up to 110kph in very dense traffic. It didn’t matter whether I travelled in the left lane (ostensibly the slow lane) or either of the other two lanes, I would always leave a gap between myself and the vehicle in front and I’d always have some idiot driving right up my backside trying to push me along. It seemed they were blind to what they were doing and unable to comprehend the danger they were placing me in.

And every day there would be multiple nose-to-tail collisions slowing traffic to a crawl, collisions which could have easily been avoided by the use of a little common sense.

I tried to conjure up ways of countering these fools, and eventually hatched a devilishly evil plan involving the installation of a small plastic bottle of hydrochloric acid into the space beneath my motorcycle’s seat. I was then going to attach a length of tubing that would run to a small opening in my rear number plate. Using a windscreen washer pump and a nozzle I’d then be able to spray anyone stupid enough to follow too closely.

I used to imagine the look on their faces when a few days later they discovered that their radiator had been eaten away or that their paint was peeling off.

I didn’t follow through with it though, my conscience getting the better of me. After all, I’m a Justice of the Peace, and therefore have to stay a “Fit and Proper Person”

Recent experiences with tailgaters, however, have started to bring out Bad Terry again, and I’m starting to think of evil ways to strike back when driving my car.

In the movie “Goldfinger” James Bond did it by spraying oil onto the road behind him, or by blinding the tailgater with smoke. If he got close enough he’d slash their tyres with rotating knives mounted on the hubcaps. Again in “The Spy Who Loved Me” he fired cement from his Lotus Esprit’s number plate all over the windscreen of anyone following.

My secret device will be much simpler. I’m throwing bricks.

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