General poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Westpig
I've not long returned from a long weekend in France (and very enjoyable it was too) and the thing that struck me quite noticeably was the vast difference in driving standards between the two countries

'er indoors was quite vocal on the subject too and she's one of those people that very much prefers to sit in the passenger seat and let me get on with it (fortunately)

some examples are:

when you're catching someone up on the m/way, who they themselves will need an overtake shortly i.e. they also are catching someone up (2 lanes for them, 3 for us which ought to be to our advantage, but due to the CLOG isn't) the accepted practice over there is for the vehicle in the middle of the equation to throttle off a bit and wait for you to pass, then pull out and do their manouevre...yet over here it is pull out early and make you wait

absolutely everyone pulls back into the nearside lane after an overtake, whereas over here they dawdle along in the o/s lane

mirror usage in France is more than acceptable, over here it seems to be optional

when I got back to good old Blighty, pulled out of Dover and went up the hill on the A2, for the whole length of the up hill dual carriageway, some woman in a blue Escort did the whole length of it at 55mph in the o/s lane, thus preventing a queue of us 'popping off' the lorries before the single lane bit at the top, she could have quite easily moved back to the nearside but couldn't be bothered...doesn't happen in France

on several bits of dual carriageway and m/way up the M2 there were a number of people unnecessarily staying in the o/s lane (i.e. nothing directly in front of them), to the extent that some motorists started under taking, which although i'm not a fan of I had a degree of sympathy with

the final straw was the coach that did a sudden 'signal, manouevre, mirror' despite not being that close to the vehicle it wanted to overtake (thus not giving me much of a chance to realise it was a possibility) and when he realised i was having to brake quite well, swerved back into the nearside lane, then gave me a load of main beam once i'd gone past...marvellous, try checking your mirrors first pal, i wasn't going that fast, had headlights on in the dusk and was fully loaded with my kid in the car, so not willing to push it that much

there were others too, like the fool in the green Audi A4 estate that felt it was reasonable to do 4 lanes of the M25 in a high speed swerve from the slip road to the o/s lane in one mad blast ..heaven alone knows what would have happened to a filtering m/c, as the lanes were fairly congested (approaching the toll bit)... and the blue Renault Clio with the young chav that accelerated as hard as he could away from the toll (saw it in my nearside mirror) and thought he could do the double white line lane markings and barge in front of me, but misinterpreted the situation, because by then i'd become Mr Grumpy and closed the gap..which had him accelerating right up to my bumper, revving like hell, then dropping back all the way through the tunnel (the temptation to dab the brakes at a critical moment was severe, but I managed to resist it).

how come they can get it right on the Continent (mostly) and yet it is so bad here. We can put some of it down to less traffic policing here, higher traffic density etc...but in reality I saw no trafic police on the French network whatsoever and thinking back on it over the years, never have done. Why is our country becoming more and more rude and ignorant when it comes to motoring?


Edited by Pugugly on 01/11/2008 at 09:52

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - andyfr
Coudn't agree more. When we were in the US this year their standard of driving was so much better. As soon as we got back to the UK lots of similar incidents to the ones you observed.

Edited by andyfr on 31/10/2008 at 09:07

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - midlifecrisis
Couldn't agree more. I've got a permanent bump on my head I've banged it against the wall so often.

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - smokie
Great post, neatly sums up all the examples I've seen over the years.

I know a driver who habitually uses lane 2, and often lane 3, whatever speed he's at and whatever traffic is(n't) around. His theory is that he's paid his taxes therefore he will drive where he wants to. Other than that, he's quite a nice, sensible chap.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - gordonbennet
Its not just in motoring that rudeness and aggressive ignorance are becoming increasing prevalent, but the animosity that certain drivers seem to display for one another is increasing consistently, probably if you think about it an a parallel course with activities outside motoring too.

I'd like to say its all the fault of young drivers and they do have a high proportion of idiots, but many older drivers fall into this 'me first and damn everyone else'' attitude.

I think driving standards will continue to decline, along with the increase in aggressive and generally nasty behaviour generally.
I have seen this decline so markedly among HGV and PSV drivers in the years i've been doing the job, the camaraderie and (call it laughingly) professional courtesy have all but vanished except for a few old soaks.

It starts at a very young age WP, doing your job you probably know this far more than most, if you teach your children to have manners, respect, decency, morals, care and consideration for others from the very beginning (and lead by example of course) there's a fair to middling chance that in the fullness of time they will make considerate and decent adults who will probably drive with equal pride and consideration.

Unfortunately we have a whole army of parents who don't do any of these things, who possibly weren't taught anything important as children themselves and it gets reflected onwards.
This rant of mine is not class distinctive and i make no reference to social or economic standing, there are many people around of all income and other groups who have the social and driving skills of the cave man too.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - OldSock
I have to agree with you on the disparity between driving in France and back here.

One factor may be the somewhat lower population density in France - crowded lab rats and all that...

Also, having been in 'holiday mode' doesn't help when coming back to normality!

Just one point, though - you say ".... with my kid in the car, so not willing to push it that much". What does that mean? Would you 'push it' a bit more to risk an incident involving a kid in someone else's car?
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Westpig
Just one point though - you say ".... with my kid in the car so
not willing to push it that much". What does that mean? Would you 'push it'
a bit more to risk an incident involving a kid in someone else's car?

>>
was highlighting a point to try to show that the speed IMO was reasonable i.e. kid in car = being relatively careful... in the vain hope that someome else on here wouldn't pull my post apart to find the tiniest available flaw...:-)
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - L'escargot
the final straw was ............
marvellous try checking your mirrors first pal .......


Chill out. Learn to take it in your stride. That way your blood pressure will stay lower, and your calmer demeanour will help to mprove your own driving.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - b308
Agree with the "too many cars, too little road" comment - thats the root cause of our woes - I've driven round several large and busy continental cities and their driving can be just as bad as ours...

One other thing is the need to 'get to where you are going before you've set off' syndrome - we seem to have inherited this off the US, you also see it in supermarket queues - over in Europe everyone takes their time but over here if we're not served in less than 2 minutes all hell breaks loose... and a person with 8 items in the 5 or less checkout.....!!
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Rattle
I am just gob smacked on what I see on the roads. It is often the same kind of people in the same type of car too. They just think they are invinisbile. I just don't get why people are so rushed it is ten times quicker than the bus.

Edited by Webmaster on 31/10/2008 at 23:41

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Alby Back
Courtesy, decorum, define it how you will. Walk around a typical French town at night and observe the general standard of conduct of the locals. Conduct the same excercise in any British town and you could quickly draw the conclusion that Brits are fairly uncouth by comparison.

Maybe it's genetic, maybe it's cultural, I wouldn't know. Whatever the reasons, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that some of this behaviour is reflected in driving standards.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - qxman {p}
Its not all sweetness and light in France. On the open road it can be very pleasant (especially when you're relaxed and on holiday). In the larger towns I find that French drivers are often more aggressive and impatient than British drivers. I think their accident rate is also quite a bit higher than ours.
As mentioned above, better to relax a little and stop seeing every other driver as someone who is out to block your progress.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - tyro
Over the last year and half, I've driven in France, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and the USA. You see inconsiderate and sloppy driving everywhere. I tend to agree that things are worse in the UK than elsewhere, but then I do tend to be pretty negative about modern Britain in general :-)

Westpig wrote: "Why is our country becoming more and more rude and ignorant when it comes to motoring?"

Maybe because, as gordonbennet and Humph have observed, we tend to be more rude and ignorant when it comes to everything. Courtesy and decorum are out of fashion.

However, there may be something in the "too many cars, too little road" theory. I've gone on about this before, but the old chestnut, which has become received political wisdom, that "if you build more roads you get more traffic", isn't helping.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Badwolf
I have to agree with the OP here. I often feel as though I'm driving through a real-life version of the Hazard Perception Test. And before anyone comes on here and tells me that that is what I should be doing as a matter of course, you know what I mean...! :-)
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Bagpuss
I left the UK 9 years ago to live in Germany. I come back periodically, mainly on business. I don't know whether things have got worse on the roads in the UK or whether it was always like that. I do get the feeling though, that there seem to be a lot more people on the roads in the UK these days who have no consideration for, or awareness of, other road users than there used to be. Maybe there are simply a lot more road users.

People in the UK, though, generally seem to be more selfish than I remember and there seems to be a real "me me me" attitude towards life which is probably reflected in the way people drive. Whenever I'm in the US, I'm always struck by how friendly, polite and willing to help the americans are (except in New York and Boston). It struck me that this sort of behaviour is what my parents (at least in their rose tinted memories) think of as British. So maybe the Americans make the better Brits these days!

The standard of driving in the US on the other hand...
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - DP
I had an experience on the A34 near Oxford yesterday which made me *almost* sympathise with outside lane hoggers for a second.

Travelling at the legal limit-ish in lane 2 overtaking an HGV, there's a couple of HGVs about half a mile ahead in lane 1, but nothing else. I return to lane 1.

After 10 seconds or so, a steady stream of cars starts to overtake me. As I half the gap between me and the HGVs ahead, I signal to pull out into lane 2. Not one person lets me out. Inevitably, I catch the HGVs, and spend half a mile sitting at 50 mph waiting to overtake. Had I "lane hogged", I would have maintained my speed without any problem at all.

I drove in Germany for the first time last month (North to South on the autobahns) and it reminded me how joyous proper lane discipline is.


Edited by DP on 31/10/2008 at 11:13

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - ForumNeedsModerating
After 10 seconds or so, a steady stream of cars starts to overtake me. As I half the gap between me and the HGVs ahead, I signal to pull out into lane 2. Not one person lets me out. Inevitably, I catch the HGVs, and spend half a mile sitting at 50 mph waiting to overtake. Had I "lane hogged", I would have maintained my speed without any problem at all.

Well, they shouldn't brake to let you out - that simply causes inconvenience or worse to the following stream. If the gaps were big enough, I'd have accelerated into one - that shouldn't faze anyone too much. If the inter-vehicle gaps weren't big enough - then that's life really - a bit like waiting at a junction with a stream of traffic passing - you simply have to wait.

I frequently anticipate overtaking blocking points - caused by mimsers or speed-restricted vehicles & make my move early - if someone is closing on me & I know I'll be boxed in my lane, I move while there's still a safe gap. Sometimes I don't bother, I do an economy calculation: does spending a few seconds more waiting justify the 'cost' (in fuel) of accelerating past something to maintain speed or if the closing vehicle is going faster than I'd like to accelerate to, to avoid slowing them unduly.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - DP
Well they shouldn't brake to let you out - that simply causes inconvenience or worse
to the following stream. If the gaps were big enough I'd have accelerated into one
- that shouldn't faze anyone too much. If the inter-vehicle gaps weren't big enough -
then that's life really - a bit like waiting at a junction with a stream
of traffic passing - you simply have to wait.


A junction is different, though. You have to negotiate it if you want to use one of the roads that passes through it. In this case, by driving 'correctly', I put myself in a position that driving 'incorrectly' would have completely avoided. If I'd sat in lane 2, perhaps squeezed it on a bit to avoid inconveniencing the cars behind me, it simply wouldn't have happened.

The A34 is always an eye opener. It really does have an HGV lane, and an "everything else" lane. For the volume of traffic it carries, the road is woefully inadequate.

In my case above, making an early move would have involved pulling back out within the first 10 seconds, in which case I may as well have carried merrily along in lane 2 between the two overtakes. The actual distance between overtakes was more than enough to justify pulling back in.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - GJD
After 10 seconds or so a steady stream of cars starts to overtake me. As
I half the gap between me and the HGVs ahead I signal to pull out
into lane 2. Not one person lets me out. Inevitably I catch the HGVs and
spend half a mile sitting at 50 mph waiting to overtake. Had I "lane hogged"
I would have maintained my speed without any problem at all.
Well they shouldn't brake to let you out - that simply causes inconvenience or worse
to the following stream. If the gaps were big enough I'd have accelerated into one
- that shouldn't faze anyone too much. If the inter-vehicle gaps weren't big enough -
then that's life really- a bit like waiting at a junction with a stream of traffic passing - you simply have to wait.


At motorway speeds, if the inter-vehicle gaps aren't big enough then the two second rule is being violated. So I could just as easily turn your statement around and say to the "tailgaters" [*]: If the vehicle ahead is lane hogging instead of moving in to the left - then that's life really - a bit like waiting at a junction with a stream of traffic passing - you simply have to wait.

The lane hogger shouldn't be lane hogging, but the tailgaters shouldn't be tailgating. Two wrongs don't make a right, but it's difficult to feel any sympathy for the tailgaters being held up when it's only happening because of their own wrongdoing.

[*] I'm using the word "tailgaters" as shorthand for "violators of the two second rule". It might not be quite the right word to use, but I can't think of a better one right now.

You missed an important point though. DP also said that he signalled and still nobody let him out. The car immediately behind may not be able to let you out without braking, but two or three cars back has ample opportunity to see the signal and gently lift off to open up a gap for you without presenting a significant hazard to following traffic. But it didn't happen, and it hardly ever does. This particular lack of courtesy seems so prevalent that for short gaps between vehicles I want to overtake, I have started to seriously consider and use the lane hogging option.

I know I shouldn't do it, but the traffic behind shouldn't be driving in such a way that it's that hard for me to rejoin. Faced with the choice of doing the right thing and inconveniencing only myself, or doing the wrong thing and inconvienceing only those who would have needlessly inconvenienced me had I done the right thing, it's not a hard decision sometimes.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Andrew-T
Having studied the driving habits from my hotel window in Lisbon recently, I can state that drivers there don't yet understand roundabouts. General behaviour is relaxed, and hooting only starts at what is considered an improper obstruction. But gyratory lane discipline - forget it.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Andrew-T
>The old chestnut, which has become received political wisdom, that "if you build more roads you get more traffic"<

I presume from this remark that you don't accept the truth of the chestnut. I personally do. But whatever the truth, you might accept that adding 10% (say) to UK's road network to accommodate 10% more traffic is financially impossible, especially now.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - tyro
Andrew, if I may be permitted to quote what I wrote elsewhere on this forum (sorry - sounds a bit conceited, quoting oneself)

"More roads only leads to considerably more traffic in situations where there were not enough roads before. If there are sufficient roads to meet the transport needs of an area, any increase in traffic will be absolutely tiny. If road-building does produce materially more traffic, it is basically an indication that the transport infrastructure was inadequate before, or that it was soon going to become inadequate. "

For more, see www.honestjohn.co.uk/forum/post/index.htm?t=66281
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Optimist
In Spain I've noticed that when you overtake on twisting, hilly roads to get by a lorry, say, oncoming traffic will slow to let you get safely by. Otherwise traffic would never go anywhere. Can't see that happening here where people "own" the bit of road they drive on.

I see that midlifecrisis said in response to OP: >> I've got a permanent bump on my head I've banged it against the wall so often. >>

I think that explains a lot. Just joking, of course.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Andrew-T
Tyro - that argument is a little facile. It applies equally to the growth in air traffic - until after WW2 that traffic didn't exist. The arrival of increasingly cheap flying created it (satisfied a need, if you prefer). The M25 was built to take a calculated level of traffic, but as it didn't 'replace' any large existing roads, it created new traffic which it couldn't take after a relatively short time. Many road improvements to eliminate bottlenecks cause a new one down the (new) road.

At the level of road saturation in the UK, new roads are often sticking-plaster solutions to local problems. Our vehicle:length of road proportion is too high. When drivers find cars become impossible they will either stop or try something else.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Alanovich
When drivers find cars become impossible they will either stop or try something else.


And then, once the roads have freed up a bit, people will notice and return to cars. Recreating the problem.

The congestion problem can not be solved by any means other than pricing people off the roads. IMHO. Not that I'm advocating it.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Group B
IMO traffic density may be a contributory factor; but I think its more about drivers' mindset, the selfish attitudes pervading society in general.
On my particular road/ motorway commute in the midlands I'm not directly affected by much congestion. I see it twice daily on the opposite carriageway, but I can sometimes go a week without being held up significantly myself. But I can still see every example of incompetent, ignorant, selfish driving, in light or moderate traffic.

I can sometimes go a few days and only see one or two stupid incidents. Then there seems to be a silly day where loads of people are at it! And the silly day does not have to have heavier traffic. It can sometimes be notably worse at weekends than weekdays; less commuting regulars and an influx of drivers not used to the motorway.


Another situation Ive been seeing daily is on the A617 dual carriageway, where currently the East and West-bound carriageways both have two sections coned down to one lane for repairs.
In a little over a week, in fairly light traffic, Ive seen numerous instances of drivers waddling up lane two only slightly faster than cars in lane one, then cutting in at an inappropriate point. They seem oblivious to the 800/ 600/ 400/ 200 yard signs and only take action when they see the cones. A little bit of deceleration or a good burst of acceleration would see them safely into a gap. But no they blunder in, misjudge speeds and then brake, forcing others to brake behind them. I must stress this is in light traffic, where 800 yards warning to pick a slot to move into is ample..
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Altea Ego
Just done 2000+ miles in France, Switzerland and Italy, and the worse piece of driving I saw in all that time was a British registered BMW.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Lud
I agree with Westpig that French drivers are better on motorways than we are, although of course they aren't perfect. They do, as others have said, enjoy a much lower national level of traffic density than us. On other roads they seem much the same as us, although marginally less inclined to mimse.

Something to do with different forms of bolshiness in our respective national characters perhaps...
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - GJD
On other roads they seem much the same
as us although marginally less inclined to mimse.


Considerably less inclined to mimse around town in my experience. I was driving in my local built up area a few years ago with a passenger who had recently returned from living in France (and who didn't drive at all). After an amount of positive progress past, through and around the mimsing masses she commented that I drove like I was French. Until then I had never imagined that being accused of being French could be a positive comparison :-)
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Brian Tryzers
I've seen a great many near-suicidal overtaking manoeuvres on long, straight French single-carriageways. I believe the annual total of road accident fatalities in France, for about the same overall population, is about twice that of the UK.

They do do motorways better, certainly. My favourite French driving trait is the way that, as they round the curve on a motorway slip road and begin to accelerate towards the main carriageway, they actually look to see what's already in the nearside lane, then ease off to let it pass. Anyone with any sense of self-preservation in lane 1 of a UK motorway will instinctively ease off or try to change lane in the same situation, because the chances are no better than even that the driver on the slip road even knows you're there, let alone that the dotted line he's about to cross means 'give way'.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - tyro
Andrew

1. You seem to be saying that building new roads creates traffic that doesn't exist, just as increasingly cheap air travel brought about a lot more air travel. You are, of course right, that if air travel was expensive, we would be flying a lot less, and if we only have a few roads in Britain, we would be driving a lot less. We would, in short, have a lot less mobility. And in particular, we would have less mobility compared to other countries. I suppose there are people who consider that to be a good thing, but not many consider it to be realistic.

2. The M25 is an interesting case, and while I don't know the details, it seems to me that it both relieved other roads of congestion, and permitted greater mobility in the SE of England.

3. >> Our vehicle:length of road proportion is too high. When drivers find cars become impossible they will either stop or try something else."

If the ratio of vehicles to length of road is too high, it surely means that we either need more roads or fewer vehicles. To try to discourage driving by making it impossible is to decrease mobility - which is, I suspect, economically unrealistic. Do we really want to go back to 19th century levels of mobility?

I must confess that I am struggling a bit to understand your argument - so I do apologise if I have not understood the points you are making.

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - rustbucket
I think that the real problem in this country is that nearly all the problems we have road related or not is that we have an overpopulation problem. Sort that out and the other problems will just evaporate.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Pugugly
And how, pray, can that be sorted out ?
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Andrew-T
Nearly all the global problems arise from global overpopulation at bottom. As PU asks, how do we sort that out?

I recall a debate at school 50 years ago - 'Is war a biological necessity?'. It may come to that. And the wars may be about water rather than oil.
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Andrew-T
Tyro - your three responses all seem to be based on a god-given right to 'mobility', which is a nice idea in principle. The UK problem is that probably 30 million people want to exercise that right, at rush hour many at the same time, and the space available just isn't up to it. At vast expense (compared to what we get) we can apply the sticking plasters I referred to earlier, but we won't relieve the overall problem much.

No doubt it seems stupid to say so, but 40 years ago most people lived within a few miles of their work. These days daily commutes of an hour or more are common. There are of course many reasons for this, some of them nothing to do with driving, but one may be that Brits don't like living 'over the shop', which is something the French still do, for example. In other words we are all part of the problem. Another example - why drive 50 miles to a megastore when there is another just like it in the next town?
general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - tyro
Andrew - you are basically right about my responses. It does come down to the fact that mobility is something that has been increasing over the past few hundred years. Once upon a time, there were no cars, and before that, there was a time when there were no railways. And in those days, people were perfectly happy. Times move on. And I strongly suspect that they will continue to move on. I find it hard to believe that the increasing mobility that we have had over the past couple of hundred years is going to stop, let alone go into reverse, though it may well slow down.

And yes, a lot of it is about population density, and the fact that England is now the most densely populated country in Europe. (Maybe that's why I spend very little time there!) The interesting thing is that much of the rest of Europe does have comparatively empty roads, and that in most western European countries, the birth rate is falling. If France and Germany can have comparatively uncongested roads (though obviously around cities it is not so), so can England - but it means building more roads.

Your points about the rise in commuting distances, the culture of living over your work, and shopping trips are well made and relevant - but I really don't think that the answer is to make commuting slower and more difficult.

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Andrew-T
>I really don't think that the answer is to make commuting slower and more difficult.<

I don't think that is the answer either, but we will unless habits change. I'm sure no-one (even politicians) starts with that intention. But whatever else, the UK land area is a fixed quantity, and in general individuals occupy more of it than they used to (including their driving space), and want to occupy more, so what is going to give?

Edited by Andrew-T on 01/11/2008 at 11:36

general poor driving nowadays in Blighty - Garethj
Is it because of the higher proportion of newer cars now?

If you've just blown 20 grand on a shiny new motor, what happens when you're overtaken by someone in a 500 quid snotter? Personally I don't care, but judging by what happens when I'm in a £500 car, some people do.

Back in the day when even Lud was younger, was the same thing so prevalent? Even if it was there were fewer cars around so you'd perhaps see it less often?
 

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