Wednesday 25 February 2015

Driving myself crazy

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I know some people adore driving, they find it relaxing and could happily do it all day. Some do it as their job of course; there are plenty of delivery drivers and sales reps travelling around and spending more time in their vehicle than out of it each day. Never, ever could I do that! Last week I had to collect one of my daughters from my parents, this is just a 80-mile journey, so not far in the scheme of things but the round trip of just under 5 hours, much of that spent on the M25 absolutely wrecked me. All I wanted to do when I got home was sleep.

I’m a bit of a conundrum nowadays really as I think I am both an excellent and terrible driver all rolled into one. When More Than asked me to write about the worst driver I know, the only person that came to mind was me. This may well be because I don’t trust many people to drive me around and as such I am rarely a passenger to experience their driving nowadays. I’m not a terrible actual driver though, I consider myself to be an astute and cautious driver, even better since I had to go on the road awareness course for speeding and it even made me think about signing up for an advanced driver course. I think too many people underestimate the skill needed to drive really well.

So why do I say I am the worst driver I can think of then? Well, because I am (or was) a terrible passenger seat driver. The number of times my husband said ‘Michelle’ in an exasperated voice was beyond counting. Can you imagine how unnerving it is to be driving and the passenger next to you starts to brake for you, grabs the door handle and white knuckles it and sucks in her breath every time a car gets anywhere near us? I can imagine it was pretty hard to put up with me for a while, I often found myself saying sorry after I had made scared noises and tried to sink into the seat as a lorry driving perfectly well past us on the motorway.

It was two car accidents (neither my fault I hasten to add) that made me really nervous. The first accident was when I was 17 and my silly boyfriend of the time decided to overtake his ex-girlfriend and show me just how great his car was, he had not banked on the bus coming out of a staggered crossroads and yes, you guessed it, we headed straight into the side of the bus.  His old beat-up Ford escort ended up the size of a mini and I was a very lucky girl with just some bruising and water on the knee. Not so much the same for my then-boyfriend and best friend who both ended up in hospital with serious injuries.

Now I think about it this boyfriend was probably the worst driver I have ever come across, he was young and full of bravado and he thought he was invincible. When I was first going out with him he used to take me places in his car and it was only about 6 months later that I found out he only had a provisional license and no M.O.T! Thankfully he mended his driving ways after our serious accident, who wouldn’t when you end up with a kneecap replacement at age 19? But he did find it hard to get insurance for his next car as the premiums were so high, it is shame that you have one bad accident and combine that with young age and the premiums become far too high.

Nowadays of course this does not have to be such an issue for young people, new drivers or those with claims/convictions as you can get Telematics or black box insurance from companies like More Than. The small black box is fitted in your car and it measures things like speed, times you drive, braking and cornering control/distance and if you are driving careful your premium is adjusted month on month to ensure you do not overpay. It sounds like a really sensible idea.

Roll forward to the second accident, just 4 weeks before my wedding in 2002 and I was heading to work on a very wet and windy day. All of a sudden the cars in front of me started to brake suddenly and we all came to an abrupt halt, all of us that is except the woman in the car behind me who was on her mobile and didn’t notice until too late. Those 9 cars that then had no notice to stop because of her negligence all went into the back of my lovely shiny black fiesta too.  My pride and joy wrote off in moments, thankfully I had decent insurance and was not physically hurt.

And the good thing to have come out of those accidents? Well, I am a super cautious driver now, I keep a good braking distance always. I only overtake if there is a safe clear distance ahead and I stay to the speed limit (well I really try, now I know how to figure out what it is when there is no signage).

How about you, what kind of driver are you?

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