Monday, 26 March 2012

driving rules

so how are you all finding the new road rules? piece of cake? i have to admit i managed to stuff it up around 9.30am sunday morning, totally forgetting to let the left turning person to go first. the passenger in my car duly reminded me that the rules had changed at 5am, and i was thinking "oh great".

i make mistakes while driving, as does everyone else. i've been lucky that those mistakes have not lead to any serious consequences thus far. but i know that when i do make mistakes, there is going to be a reasonably percentage of the population generalising my mistakes on to a whole group of people, in a "girl's suck at maths" kind of way.

i'll be spared the whole "asian drivers" thing because there are still too many nz'ers who haven't absorbed the fact that india is in fact in asia. but i'll almost definitely get the "muslim women drivers" thing, exemplified by the exaggerated gestures and the yelling. and i just know they're thinking us women with our heads covered shouldn't be allowed in the driver's seat because we're ignorant and probably can't even see with that material around our heads, and whatever else pig-ignorant thoughts run through the minds of people like this.

i find that driving while female in a headscarf puts me at much more risk of having people turn in front of me instead of waiting. almost every time i drive, i'm slamming on the brakes cos some idiot doesn't want to wait the 5-10 seconds it would take for me to pass, no doubt with the assumption that i'll be really a slow driver and they've absolutely desperately have to get ahead of me. usually turns out that they're the slow driver, so i've not only had to brake but then i have to crawl along behind said idiot in silent frustration.

and the countless number of people who will try to get ahead of me at a traffic light where there's 2 lanes on the left-side, or a 2-laned roundabout. there's very few that manage it, because i certainly know how to put my foot down on the pedal and i get sick of people assuming that i'm a meek and slow driver. of course i'm not interested in putting anyone in danger in order to prove a point, but if i can prove it safely, i do.

i know that people behave like a**holes to each other on the road all the time. but just like in every other sphere in society, racism & bigotry are expressed via driving just as much as they are anywhere else. and sometimes, that expression can put other people at risk because of poor decisions made on the basis of stupid stereotypes.

as an aside, i have this theory that if you want to see the true personality of any person, then you need to watch them drive. it tells you a whole lot about the way they live their lives, in a way they don't tend to hide. if they're careful and considerate while driving, they'll tend to be that way in the rest of their lives. if they're impatient or rude, always in a hurry, too slow and not looking at the traffic building up behind them, or whatever, i find it really tells you a lot about that person. (disclosure: i know my driving style doesn't say very wonderful things about me a lot of the time - i'm one of the people who's always in a hurry and often impatient with people who slow me down!)

just one final point about the road rule changes: i can't figure out what's changed re the t-junction rule. i've always given way to the person on the straight road at the top of the T, and can't think of a time when i wouldn't unless there were traffic lights. most of the people i've talked to about it think exactly the same. what are we missing?


Anonymous said...

Re: T-intersection, you're suppose to give way to the person coming out from the side-street. No one does/did, but that's what you were suppose to do.

Katherine said...

I disagree, I know quite a few people whose driving is almost the opposite of how they behave in the rest of their lives. On everything else I agree.

Deborah said...

Most people were doing T-intersections wrong. I gave up on trying to give way, or take the right of way, after being yelled at and abused by a guy who was waiting a couple of cars behind. He actually stepped out of his car, shouting, "Don't you know the road code, you stupid bitch."

Shortly after this, the local roads people installed a give way sign at that particular intersection.

So yes, it used to be that if one driver was turning right out of the upright of a t, and into the tops, and the other was turning right off the t, then the person turning right from the top was supposed to give way. But as far as I know, most people just didn't do it.

Just one dozey moment for me so far, and I remembered very quickly, and everyone was going slowly and carefully, so no harm done.

LudditeJourno said...

The benefits of cycling rather than driving mean I haven't had to do this yet.
stargazer, I just want to support your comment about "road rage" being linked to racism. A few years ago an Asian colleague of mine was assaulted in a driving incident by two others, who racially abused her while they hit her. With her neck in a brace, she raised the issue in a community meeting, and the majority of people of colour in the room raised similar experiences. It's a good example of discrimination being invisibilised by terms that suggest the violence happens to everyone. "Road rage"? Or "racist rage"? "Sexist rage"?

Brett Dale said...

In my experience, people's personalities are the exact opposition when they get behind the wheel of a car.

I remember an old Disney cartoon did it to perfection, they had goofy as a mild mannered person going to work, but when he got behind the wheel of his car he went nuts.

Brett Dale said...

The goofy carton from 1950.

Sarah said...

I have to say that I have not experienced quite what you have while driving - as an orthodox Jew, I move between headscarf (tied behind the neck), snood, and wig, depending on my mood and how much energy I have for standing out so I am often in the same situation, looking completely different. Admittedly I live in Vancouver, and not Hamilton anymore, but the demographic has its similarities as does the bigotry. I have never noticed a difference in driving behaviour though. I notice in supermarkets - a marked difference in whether people start up casual conversations with me - checkout line repartee etc. In fact there is an old guy who always stares at me but is quite civil when I am bewigged. I notice people noticing me in all sorts of activities, and I admit, I notice that I am extra careful to appear smiley and agreeable when noticeably head-covered. But I can't say driving is one of these places. I think that my experiences in being cut off, not let in etc, are very different to my husband and I do attribute that to being a woman. I actually also found that in the amusing six months that I drove a large SUV - a lot of drivers started up with me (and I happen to be a very courteous driver) particularly smaller cars turning in front of me deliberately and cyclists who looked at me in the eye and got in my way. (I say that as a spouse and mother of cyclists). I'm going to take more notice of this now you have mentioned it.