The Myth of the Open Road

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there are more vehicles than ever on the road.

This means that the chances of a vehicle coming in the opposite direction are pretty high, even on a country road.

So tell me, why do a lot of people drive as if they are the only people on the road? And why do they constantly drive in the middle of the road rather than keeping to their right here in Switzerland (or left in the UK)?

Is it because they are fiddling with their mobile phone, looking at a GPS screen, changing the radio station, smoking, eating a sandwich, or just because the only person who exists is ME?

I learnt to drive in the UK at the end of the 1970s when there were many fewer vehicles than now. But when I look back, I have no memory of people driving in the middle of the road. Strange, huh?

Here’s another situation.

You’re driving happily along a road at your own speed and suddenly you see a vehicle a few hundred yards ahead of you.

Do you

a) continue driving along happily at your own speed or

b) accelerate, come right up behind the other vehicle and sit on its bumper, impatient for the earliest opportunity to overtake?

If you can honestly say that you do a), then you have my congratulations.

Because the vast majority of people do b).

It’s what I call the Greyhound Syndrome, a phenomenon that I noted as early as the tender age of 16.

So why do people react like this?

We’ve already established that there is a lot of traffic on the roads, so it’s not surprising that you find vehicles on the road ahead of you.

I think it must be a throwback to our days as hunters, a sort of knee-jerk reaction, rather like the reaction of greyhounds to an electric hare ahead of them in a racing stadium.

But we’re not dogs or sheep, are we?

So the next time this situation occurs and you start to accelerate, try to catch yourself and ask why you’re doing this.

Are you really in so much of a hurry?

What happens if you let the electric hare vehicle run in front of you and continue to drive at the same speed as before.

For one thing you don’t get stressed up.

You don’t stress up the driver in front of you by sitting on his bumper which is JUST PLAIN BAD MANNERS.

You’d forgotten that, huh?

Yep, not according the respect of a certain distance between you and the next car is not only dangerous, it’s, I repeat, BAD MANNERS.

And you can continue to enjoy your driving rather than getting het up about the fact that someone is in front of you.

Of course, if your personal speed is faster than the car in front of you, you’re going to catch up eventually and overtake. Just make sure that it is your natural speed and not a reaction to the other car. And don’t sit on the guy’s bumper because, yep, you got it, it’s BAD MANNERS.

I am fortunate enough to do a lot of driving on country roads where you can still drive freely and there is space still. So these days, if someone comes charging up behind me, trying to stress me up and sitting on my bumper, I just look for a safe place, indicate and pull over or slow down to let the vehicle pass.

And then I continue on my way and laugh at the bizarre reaction of the driver who doesn’t really understand what has happened and is usually, suddenly and for no explicable reason, no longer in such a hurry any more.

Perhaps his ego is miffed because he didn’t get to overtake me ‘properly.’

If you can do this safely, then I suggest you try it out. It’s a simple but effective exercise in letting go, rather than allowing the impatient driver behind you to stress you up and influence what speed you drive at, whether it be accelerating or slowing down.

It’s not because other people on the road have the mentality of a child of three that you have to behave in the same way.

It’s your life. Drive it at your own speed!

Have a great week.




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