So here it is, my 10 least favourite habits of drivers on Sydney roads. Not the definitive list by any means and probably not restricted to drivers in Sydney either, but since this is where I do 99.9% of my driving it’s my main point of reference.
When I was a kid we moved around the country a lot with Dad’s job. By the time I was 16 and gagging to get my Learner’s Permit, Mum & Dad had accumulated a plethora of anecdotes and viewpoints about which drivers from which cities and states were better or worse than others. There was all manner of ethnic stereotypes being thrown about back in those days, none of which I’ll repeat here – suffice it to say that if you were an Aussie kid who ever went driving with your Mum & Dad in the family Datsun during the mid-80s, you almost certainly know what I’m talking about. For example, old men with hats were always to be avoided, irrespective of whether the hat was actually on the old man’s head or sitting on the rear parcel shelf – apparently leaving the hat on the rear parcel shelf was even worse! Queenslanders were, without doubt, the worst drivers on the road, anywhere, period… although, conversely and concurrently, they were apparently the only ones who knew how to use a roundabout properly, presumably because being the first ones to get them meant they’d had the most opportunity to practice on them. Later it was the West Australians who fell victim to my parents’ tongue-lashing for being, without doubt, the worst drivers on the road, anywhere, period. Victorians were apparently the most courteous drivers in the country, with all manner of on-road civilities afforded their fellow drivers – plus they must be clever what with that very silly hook turn thing they have to contend with in Melbourne. Meanwhile Novocastrians (residents of Newcastle, if you’re wondering) became known for the widespread habit of racing up to T intersections and rarely stopping regardless of the signage, as well as for habitually cutting corners when turning into a T intersection, such that you’d be convinced they were almost certainly going to side-swipe the front of your car as you waited for them to glide past, seemingly oblivious to how close they’d come to making contact. All the way through – and despite the glitch with the Novocastrians – New South Wales drivers, particularly those from Sydney, were absolutely without doubt 100% far and away the best, the only ones who knew how to driver ‘properly’, without question.
It’s only fair to note at this particular junction in the story that Mum and Dad spent most of their first 40 years as residents of Sydney or the NSW Central Coast. As a kid, I thought they were just making well-balanced observations of the way things were; as a ‘grown-up’ (chronologically, if in no other way) and with the very great benefit of hindsight, I now see there was huge potential for some degree of bias in their observations.
So while there aren’t any old men with hats or ethnic slurs in the list of my 10 least favourites, I’m still a product of my upbringing so I guess my observation of driving styles was preordained.
MATT’S 10 LEAST FAVOURITE HABITS OF DRIVERS ON SYDNEY ROADS
1. Red P-Platers. They just scare me and I stay as far away from them as possible. That is all.
2. Speeding. I’m convinced that nobody in Sydney knows (or cares) how to drive at the speed limit. Anywhere. Ever.
3. Swinging out across double unbroken lines into the path of oncoming traffic to get around someone else because you can’t wait the 15 seconds it takes them to move out of your way. Not sure when this became acceptable… actually, it isn’t acceptable. Stop it at once!
4. Hogging the right lane of the freeway. When travelling almost the entire length of a freeway in the left lane becomes the fastest way to get where you’re going, there’s a problem.
5. Not stopping at Stop signs or giving way at Give Way signs. There’s an excessively silly T-intersection near my house that proves, every single day, just how stupid and dangerous this can be.
6. Not slowing down at speed humps or a chicane. Not sure when drivers began dictating their own speed limits at traffic-slowing devices, but these days few seem worried if they cruise across a hump doing 60.
7. Driving around with all the windows down and the stereo so loud and the subwoofer so subwoofery that every window in my house rattles. Sometimes my rib cage too. I don’t like your music and I’m not impressed by your volume. What are you overcompensating for?
8. Tailgating. You do realise it only makes me slow down even more, don’t you?
9. Speeding up to get as far along the left lane as you can get when it’s clear that the left lane is going to end, then forcing your way into a gap that wasn’t there until you made me leave it. If you’d only been nice about it and just waited your turn, I probably would’ve let you in anyway. Now I just want to run you off the road.
10. Using your right indicator to go straight through a roundabout. Seriously – you’re entering a circular piece of road, swinging around the left side of a big round bit in the middle and going straight out the other end. At no point, neither in this nor any alternative universe, will you ever be turning right in this scenario.
I’m pretty sure I have ten more. No, too much fun all at once.
Now if only everyone in Sydney drove as sedately as people in RAdelaide, our roads would be a much calmer, nicer, friendlier place to be.