dr david bull

Driving me crazy!

In Opinion Pieces on March 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

People in LA are really good at some things. Major movies, great TV shows, fantastic theme parks. Driving, however, is not one of them!

The standard of driving is not only terrible, it’s chaotic and unpredictable. A mum with a car load of kids will think nothing of pulling across 5 lanes of the freeway in one heroic gesture without giving any indication of what she is about to do.

Why bother to indicate when you can just veer sideways and watch as the other cars scuttle furiously across the many lanes to avoid the impending collision.

It also appears that pedestrian crossings – ie those dedicated crossings clearly demarcated with lines on the road and signs like the one below – do not quite hold the same sway as they do in the UK.

At best it seems that stopping is optional. At worst its a game of skittles. Everytime you cross one of these you take your life in your hands! I was crossing the road the other day to go to the gym and nearly lost both legs!

Then comes one of the favourites. See how many multitasking things you can do at once! I mean you have two hands after all. So one can stuff food in your face, the other clutches a mobile phone, whilst your elbow can hold a carton of soda whilst your knee controls the steering wheel.  I jest not!

And that brings me neatly to the cell phone. It’s really quite shocking how many people use their handheld cell phone whilst driving. And absolutely blatantly.

As a Brit it’s especially jarring as the UK police waged a major war on this many years ago with the result that most people now have hand-free car kits as standard.

And that’s what’s so surprising here. This is, after all, the land of the motor car and yet so few people seem to have hands-free kits, preferring to clutch their phone in their hot sweaty hand.

And if that wasn’t sufficiently cavalier, I am amazed at the number of people who drink and drive. I’ve been out with people who think nothing of having four or five cocktails (and boy are they strong) and then drive home. I know someone who was so drunk that he forgot to turn on his headlights and drove six miles through the city in the pitch dark. It’s amazing he didn’t get pulled over or run someone over.

Again, it must be so ingrained into us that if I’m drinking, the car stays at home. Actually if I’ve had a boozy night I won’t even drive the next day as I know I won’t be performing at my best and my reactions will be slower.

A sobering thought is that over 30,000 people die annually on US roads, at a rate of one every 16 minutes. Hitting someone and killing them not only ruins their life, it ruins yours too.

For goodness sake LA, ditch the cell phones, go hands-free, stop driving drunk and grab a cab.

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