I’m making a lot of assumptions here – mainly because I was born with a brain between my ears (which I still, sometimes, make use of): and therefore do not understand (or grok) what it is to drive without a considerable amount of thought and concentration. (Mind you, in a similar, ahem, vein: you could say that I was also born with a heart behind my sternum: and therefore do not understand what it is to vote Conservative….)
My point of view – and possibly rampant, creative imagination – though, leads me to believe that I have just witnessed the following sequence of events (not for the first time; and certainly not for the last) –
- I am driving down the A422, at just under the speed limit – as there is a tractor, roughly a quarter of a mile ahead; and then there are several bends and junctions to be navigated. On the back window of my car, at eye level, is a blue sticker (in the all-familiar Pantone D154873D, in fact), with the words “DISABLED DRIVER” printed on it in white.
- Approaching rapidly from behind me (and it is school chucking-out time; and murky), without any form of illumination – maybe the driver does not know where his/her headlight switch is? – at approximately twenty miles per hour over the speed limit – is another vehicle: which proceeds to accelerate to within a few yards of the rear of my vehicle. It then brakes very hard (so that the bonnet dips very noticeably; and then wobbles back up).
- I therefore begin to lose even more speed – albeit without, yet, resorting to the brake pedal (which may result in panic: and is therefore a final, er, resort) – which leads to the driver behind me (in full nose-picking, phone-holding, chocolate-eating glory – I think he (in this case) might be driving with some other appendage…) appearing at very close quarters in my internal rearview mirror. (This one is young; and in a car with ridiculous tyres and suspension (I see, later). But morons come in all ages, sizes, and sexes; and all ages and sizes of car, too.)
- By this time, we are gaining on the tractor at some speed, even though I am still decelerating, and my right foot is hovering above the brake pedal. (By the way, the tractor – with a large trailer attached – is extremely well lit: including flashing orange beacons on top – which must, even in this gloom, be visible for miles.)
- The driver behind me makes several rude gestures (albeit still picking, holding, and eating). Impressive, I think. And I then dab the brake pedal very gently: as we are now within about fifty yards of said tractor/trailer-combo. This results in more gesticulating; and – aha: he’s found a light switch! – flashing of headlamps (which I have to intuit, at first: as I cannot see below the bottom of his windscreen in my interior rearview mirror – however, I can see at least half of his grille in my offside mirror: as he is veering all over the central white line – which is now solid, on our side of the road). What he is using to operate the steering with, I do not know. He is sitting very low and flat, though. Perhaps his seat has collapsed?
- Just as the tractor indicates left – and just before a blind left-hand bend – the driver behind me swerves out into the path of an oncoming Land Rover (decked in speckled and striped sticky-back plastic: so obviously going back to Gaydon). I close my eyes; remember I’m an atheist; but pray to God, anyway. I do not want to be a victim of dangerous driving for the fourth time. Neither do I want another six-hour-long operation on my neck. Nor to be paralysed, permanently, this time.
- I come to a steady, controlled halt.
- This time, the prat behind me was extremely lucky. (Perhaps there is a god of idiots; or of dangerous drivers? (Onan?)) The test vehicle from JLR had seen what was happening; and had slowed down enough, and made room enough, to let him through – now disappearing at some knots in a cloud of blue exhaust smoke. (“You may want to have your oil seals looked at – or your head gasket,” I think: my heart beating faster than Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey. (So I am told.)) A few weeks ago, one of his brethren ended up in a ditch, in front of a large lorry. Sorry to report, both I and the lorry driver were laughing, as we shuddered to a halt (mostly from relief, I think).
Now, that was how I experienced it. This is how I think the driver behind me saw it –
- Ooh. Red car. Like red cars. Not going fast. How fast?
- Ooh. Disabled sticker. This chocolate tastes nice with snot. Is Fred there? Tell him I’m on my way.
- Cripples can’t drive fast. Must get past. Speeeeeeed.
- I wonder where that orange flashing’s coming from. Mmm, chocolate.
- Go faster, you cripple. Mmm, snot.
- Aw sod it. Must go fast. Effing scrounger. Put foot down. Powwwweeeeeeer.
- What was that speckly-stripey thing?
- What’s that smoke?
- Must go faster. Oh, hello, Fred. Going to be a bit late, got stuck behind an effing cripple.
- 90 mph. Wow. Clever boy I am.
- Where is that smoke coming from? Funny smell. Blue. Cool colour.
Now, on a day when it was announced that several vehicles had been clocked driving at more than twice the national speed limit, last year, my questions are these –
- When was the disabled-only speed limit introduced; and why did no-one tell me about it?
- Am I the victim of idiocy (which now seems to be the norm with regards to speed – especially on the A422, and surrounding lanes), or discrimination? (I have the sticker on my car so that people leave me room, when I park – I have a similar one on the driver’s door: as I need a lot of room to get out… – not so that I can be targeted in supposed ‘games’ of dangerous driving. To be honest, people drove the same way when I didn’t have the stickers, though.)
- What are you supposed to do when being tailgated at or near the speed limit? (Having recently taken an advanced driving course with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I don’t think there is consensus on this: although advice is to slow down, and let them pass. Some ‘people’ seem to enjoy it, though: so will tailgate you at any speed.)
- When did speed limits become targets to be surpassed (like Jobcentre Plus sanctions), rather than maxima?
- Have you ever considered that it is you going too fast; and not the driver in front going too slow?
- Do you know what the ‘two second rule’ is? And who breaks it?
- Do you know what is in front of the car in front of you; or behind you? What do you mean: “What tractor?”
- Do you know what the current speed limit is?
- When was the last time you read the Highway Code?
- Do you think this is funny?
- Do you suffer from motor accident-related PTSD?
- How much do second-hand tanks cost; and what’s their fuel economy like? What sort of licence do you need to drive them on a public highway; and will they fit in a disabled bay?
- As I assume my readership is of above average intelligence (in the way that all drivers – like me – are above average quality), will I ever learn the answers to all these questions?