I used to say: ‘before anyone is allowed to be a pedestrian he or she should be a driver’.
Pedestrians take risks around vehicles that curl the hair. They walk behind reversing pantechnicons, ignoring the beep-beep-beep, seemingly unaware that the driver probably can’t see them. Now I say that every car driver should drive a truck first.
Of course over the two weeks I drove for Sean, I was terrorised by all sorts of motorised stupidity, with cars ignoring turning indicators, pushing past on either side until with the lane running out, I just had to move across the line slowly to reinforce the message that I needed to change lanes.
For years, since I gave up being suicidal, I have driven as if we drivers are all part of a team, moving in ways to maximise the team’s performance, allowing people into queues, using the ‘zipper’ technique in merging traffic and so on with the result I have never injured anyone despite a few prangs over almost sixty years of driving.
That almost changed in Sandgate Road Brisbane at about nine O’clock on Friday. Up ahead, traffic had stopped so I began to change the gears down, braking gently leaving plenty of room to stop.
Suddenly, a small sedan appeared from the kerbside lane travelling at something over the limit, swerved in front of me just before the lane ended with a blockage of parked cars. Then, and not until then, the driver saw that traffic in my lane had stopped. She still had plenty of room ahead, but was spooked and gave the car a panic brake test not three metres in front of me. Luckily my foot was already poised over the pedal, so the brakes bit immediately.
All six wheels locked up, fighting to stop as ten tons of load and truck seemed to accelerate towards the little faces of three uniformed and behatted school kids in the rear seat, alerted to their possible demise by screeching tyres and blue smoke from scorched rubber blown forward around the little car.
Whether she realised I was there, or whether the traffic began to move and she accelerated in response, I will never know. But suddenly the gap widened from the ten centimetres to which it had shrunk to widen rapidly as she fled the scene.
I pulled over for a few minutes to let my heart rate come down, narrowly escaping cardiac arrest. I sat, sweating and breathing deeply for a while, had a drink of water then very gingerly guided the old thing back into the traffic. After going over the incident a few times, replaying the tape in my head, I gave her a pat on the dash and thanked her for having great brakes.
PS. I guess the take-home message is that discs all round with low profile sports tyres are no defence against ten tons of steel climbing up your boot lid!
PPS. Most drivers of both genders are courteous, but truck drivers as a group are clearly the safest people on the road! Comments not welcome. :-)