Yesterday, the bride and the prides and I went to Seaworld on Queensland’s amazing Gold Coast. We live north of Brisbane so it is approx 100km away, of which 95% of the road is a freeway, so it takes a little over an hour to get there. It was the most uncomfortable hour of driving I have had in a long time.
It was one of those days when it wasn’t overly busy on the road. Sure, there were a lot of cars but we were by no means in a carpark. The speed limit for the first half hour of our journey is 100 km/h before increasing to 110 km/h. When all drivers obey the speed limit then the traffic flows well and you generally end up at your destination without incident.
Yesterday was different.
Once we were on the Pacific Motorway it starts at 3 lanes and then turns into 4 lanes. The road rule in Australia – remember we drive on the left – is to keep left unless overtaking. This means that if you are a slow arse driver then stick to the two left hand lanes and leave the right lanes free and unobstructed. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if everyone stuck exactly to the speed limit but as you all know, cars don’t always follow the road rules and sometimes this isn’t the fault of the driver but the car itself.
Example – If you have five cars and each were side by side taking off from a start line steadily increasing speed until they hit 100 km/h on their speedometer, it would quickly become obvious that each of those 5 cars were doing a different speed. Each manufacturer is different and variables such as tyre size and air pressure to dodgy components means that the actual speed is not really the shown speed. So even though you think you are doing 100km/h doesn’t mean you are. You could be going faster or slower. This is when you feel the road conditions and what the other drivers are doing comes into it.
Sometimes, when driving in heavy traffic, I don’t really drive to the speedometer’s gauge but to the feel of the traffic around me. I feel my way around. When driving alone or in light traffic on the freeways, I use my speedo or GPS to determine my speed. My GPS actually says I am doing 97 km/h when my speedo says I am doing 100 km/h. Which one do I believe? The GPS of course. On a recent trip there was a speedo check over 5km. With a speedo check system a sign saying 0 KM is displayed on the side on the road. At this point either reset your trip meter or take note of the KM’s level on your speedo. Each KM there is a marker and then at the end of the 5 km’s take note of how far your car indicated you travelled. I had done 5.2km. So an extra 200 meters. When I raised this with my manufacturer, Mazda, they informed me that it could vary either way by up to 14% and this is indicated in the owner’s manual.
So back to yesterday – there were so many drivers who were just obviously driving really slowly in perfect driving conditions. The whole feel of the road felt wrong. Too many drivers were doing 90 in the 100 zones and others doing 100 in a 110 zone. When it is only a couple of KM’s below the speed limit that is fine but when it is 10% lower, then that is when trouble starts. As I mentioned the roads were pretty busy but not too busy that you couldn’t do the speed limit. But when you come up behind a driver doing 10 km less than the limit and there are cars either side of you it is not that easy to pull out to overtake. When these cars are in the 2 right hand lanes it is even more frustrating.
And there wasn’t just one on the road. There must have been a couple of dozen at least. Each new one I came across made the drive that much more uncomfortable. These drivers may think they are driving safely by being under the speed limit but in reality, they could be contributing to an unsafe road network. Yes the speed limit is just that. A limit. And the signs do not say you must do 100 km/h but common sense has to set in. Some impatient drivers may just pull out to the right to overtake a slower driver out of frustration and end up colliding with a car overtaking them.
Other things which were on display yesterday were the amount of drivers who were following way too closely. In such busy, high speed traffic, there is no way they could stop in time if an incident occurred. I had some of these fools tailgating me too closely as well. I don’t speed and when overtaking someone doing 97 km/h I will do 100 km/h to overtake, i.e. I don’t change my speed. But when you have someone who is doing 110 km/h and they have to slow down to the LEGAL limit they try and intimidate by sticking closely behind you. It doesn’t work guys. In fact, I am more inclined to just hang in the overtaking lane a little while longer just to piss you off. Sitting behind me less than 2 meters away is just a foolish move and it is endangering my family’s lives. I am going to invest in a rear mounted flashing sign one day which will say “Oi, dickhead! Stop tailgating!” Or something like that.
When it comes to speed on the freeways, perhaps it is time for Australia to implement the system used in Germany – The Autobahn. From the few conversations I have had with friends who have actually driven on it, it is very safe and could be just what is needed now. In the meantime though, please keep left unless overtaking and also stick to the speed limit.
We made it to Seaworld safely only for me having to walk behind slow arse walkers 5 abreast with no chance of overtaking. Oh joy.
Are you a below the limit driver? Do you stay in the overtaking lane too long? What would you say on your rear mounted sign to tailgating drivers? Leave a comment below.