why do people slow down to overtake?

18 Aug

I tweeted on this earlier, but to expand a little, it is a thing that I really can’t understand.

Let me explain today’s scenario. It has been a very wet day down here in the south and south-west; torrential rain, flash floods and all, so driving has been difficult. I had been down Camberley way and left there just before 12 to drive back to Swindon, heading along country back roads to pick up the A33 about 5 miles from joining the M4 junction 11 (Reading east).

Coming down the slip road the motorway was running slowly, around 50mph if that, but I made my way out into lane 3 before the services and sat in the line to see what might happen. The warning sign before junction 12 was showing Caution Queue and 40 mph, but there was no sign of a queue as such, just a lot of people going slowly, but conditions were grim, so go with the flow.

Past junction 12 things began to improve and I got into the cruise at 70 for a while, but as we got into the first incline we were all on the brakes. Usual thing; two speed limited trucks overtaking and everyone shoving out into lane 3 with the result that, about 15 cars back, a dead stop was almost inevitable.

Now I can live with that side of the thoughtless and moronic behaviour. There are ways to keep yourself safe, but one of the problems again today was that, having got themselves into lane 3 alongside a pair of trucks, the idiots would not get on with it and overtake. Trucks will be limited to 55/56 mph, so if we assume that the one in lane 2 is doing that speed, someone keeping to the speed limit is still going to go by them reasonably quickly in lane 3, but if you sit there at 60 it is going to take a while to get by.

People do this in dry conditions which is bad enough, but why in the wet? The only thing that I can think of is that they are scared in the spray because they can’t see, but the short answer to that is to put your bloody foot down and get out of the spray more quickly (or keep out of the flaming way and let the professionals through). It isn’t that they are only doing 60 (or whatever) all of the time, because as soon as they are past they speed up. Why?

If you take a defensive driving course one if the things that they will talk to you about is not going 3 wide, especially when the other two are trucks. It is, apparently, one of the  most dangerous situations to be in. I suppose that is because of the damage that you will suffer if something goes wrong ; over 40 tonnes of laden truck will squidge your car quite nicely if, say, the truck blows a tyre. So if it is the most dangerous place to be why prolong the time that you are there?

At the end of the day I think that the problem is that most people out there behind the wheel are so gormless that they don’t understand. Most of the have the spatial awareness of a stuffed wombat and no concept whatsoever of traffic dynamics, speed differentials and the like, so they potter around secure in the knowledge that they were nothing to do with the damage, injuries or fatalities that have occurred in their wake.

On one of the defensive driving courses that I have put myself through (and I do one about every five years because it is a good thing to do) I got a laugh during the introductions. Having been asked why I was there I said that it was because I took the view that every other b*****d on the road was out to kill me. I still think that they are. And if you are the pillock in the brand new red Fiat 500 who was travelling west on the M4 today passing junction 13 at about 1245 then tough, you didn’t get me.

Stay safe out there, don’t hang about if you do overtake and, on multi lane roads, stay left unless you are overtaking.

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