Yes, I know: as a New Zealander I’m meant to accept the wisdom handed down to us by American-accented goobers or any traffic cop who’s seen one too many fatal crashes, and believe that we’re all terrible drivers.
To that I say bollocks.
If you believe that, you’ve never been to London, or, well, just about any Asian country. We are no worse or no better than any other country. You also can’t blame the roads (it’s fashionable to say the NZ roads are terrible, too), or the cars we drive (the “get old cars off the road by pretending they’re full of rust” routine has seen to that), or the speed limit, or the drink-drivers, or anything else. As usual, it’s a mixture of all those things, plus the culture of new immigrants, plus our own NZ culture, that all go into the nice big stew that is our driving style. And it’s generally fine.
Teenagers will Darwin-ify themselves, truck-drivers and old-people will fall asleep at the wheel, and if someone being chased by the police happens to turn himself and his car into a twisted mound of broken metal and flesh, well, so much the better – one less crim on the roads.
That said, there are definitely still plenty of morons on the road. Imbeciles who cause entirely justified road rage in otherwise placid drivers. And let me be clear here: road rage is not the problem of the person experiencing it. Despite what pop psychologists and researchers say, it’s not a lack of self-restraint, of self-discipline, of the inability to turn the other cheek in a gesture of Christian goodwill. It’s entirely the fault of pricks who lack the courtesy to indicate, to wait, to merge properly.
One of the guaranteed road rage causers is spot-stealing, or cutting you off. Think about it – you’re in rush hour traffic, crawling along at 5 killo-meeters (Yes, it’s misspelled, but it stopped you saying the lazy “killom-itters”, didn’t it? :-)) per hour when some nob from the adjacent lane decides that your lane is moving much faster than his, and pulls directly across in front of you, doing the “indicate as you move” trick (thus negating the entire point of indicators), stealing your between-cars safety gap, and making you brake so that you don’t plough into his rear end. Utterly pointless, but he’ll do exactly the same move out again when he thinks his original lane is moving faster. Actions like this cause your traditional fist-shaking, middle-finger and V-sign gestures, blood pressure increases, and that nasty squirt of acid in the pit of your stomach that can best be relieved by plunging your hands into the fool’s head and mushing your fingers through his brain tissue.
Even worse, however, is this rectum:
I was driving into work last week, it was past rush hour, since I had done a ridiculously late night at work the previous evening, and needed a tad of a sleep-in. So, it was 9:30am, traffic was light and flowing fast. We’re cruising at 90 killo-meeters per hour, and this cock-brained driver sees that my (mostly empty) lane is moving slightly faster than his (mostly empty) lane. He pulls in behind me, stealing the bloke who was there’s safety zone. Then he decides that he doesn’t want to be behind a little red car like the one I’m driving, so he pulls out, stealing another bloke’s safety zone, passes me, and pulls in front of me, stealing my safety zone, while his load of wooden beams sways around dangerously. Anus-faced dick.
Anyone fancy using his number plate to find out his name, address and other details for $2.25 from a local Post office, and giving him a visit to teach him a lesson in courtesy and/or driving?
Of course, driving a truck like that, he’s obviously a tradesman, so cutting corners is what he does best.