I have a theory. Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn this, but when you drive 60,000 miles a year and Test Match Special has a limited listening window, theories come easily. And they come about through observing how well – or rather how badly – other people drive.
Mostly people drive pretty well, considering how inadequately most people are trained. They follow the right lanes, they give way, they wave to say thank you when you let them out of turnings. But, as you will know, it’s far from a given. Some people drive horribly.
My theory is that these people don’t just drive badly, they do everything badly. Those who dawdle, fail to indicate, sit in the middle lane or have no sense of spatial awareness are the same ones who suddenly stop, in the middle of a supermarket aisle or pavement, without regard for those around them. Annoying, but not consciously belligerent.
Worse are those who try to gain a blatant advantage. Not a subtle “if I discreetly put myself in this lane now then I’ll be better off half a mile down the road” advantage, but an “I know it’s a line of moving traffic filtering past a slower one, but I’ll weave out of this lane, make up a space and pull dangerously back in to make up a few nanoseconds” advantage.
I’m convinced they are the same people who push into queues elsewhere, or – my pet hate – appear on flights with hand baggage that’s clearly too big and heavy to be hand baggage and then expect to find a space for it. In the interests of research and when time allows, I’ll follow a bad driver and note what else they do, then report back. I don’t think this constitutes stalking. But I suppose we’ll see.
I should do it while I can, of course, because there will come a time when cars drive themselves, then it’ll be impossible to tell whether people are inconsiderate or not by the way they drive.
It’ll be like the time the Ford Escort died and the Focus arrived: you could tell somebody didn’t care much about driving and should be steered around if they drove a late-model Escort (earlier models excepted, naturally), but the Focus was such a good car that it was also bought by people who liked driving and were good at it. All terribly confusing.
For now, I think the theory stands. If you should avoid them on the road, you should probably avoid them everywhere.