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post #1 of (permalink) Old 26th March 2011 Thread Starter
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Exclamation Motorway Madness - A Rant

Apologies to Mods if:
  1. This has been done to death before
  2. It is posted in the wrong section
  3. It's not really the correct platform to have a moan

Since August, I have had to commute to work via the M5/M6 in Birmingham, which is arguably the worst in the UK for miserable motorway driving. Technically, I travel only 3 junctions (get on M6 Spaghetti J8, get off M5 J2) but my journey can be as long as an hour.
A lot of you by now are screaming "well go home a different route then!", but Brummie locals will know that the alternate route from Erdington to Oldbury will consist of either the Aston Expressway, Birmingham City Centre, Dudley Road (hospital), Hagley Road & Broad St. or the Soho road. I apologise to forum members who have no idea what places I am on about but believe me, you don't want to be in those places at 5:30 pm in the week.

This is why I trust motorways. Implicitly.
I have slight O.C.D. and strictly believe in straight lines at a decent speed rather than 'shortcuts' through side streets full of traffic lights, roundabouts, cars parked up both sides of the road, etc.
Yeah, the motorway route can be a couple of miles longer and curve round in a slightly different direction to where my destination is initially, but in the long-run the fuel economy and time factor are better... theoretically.

Granted, there is a hell of a lot of traffic on the roads now and motorways are congested with the sheer volume of it, but - I'll be very diplomatic here - thoughtless drivers actually create the jams and frustration.
I'm not saying that I'm right and everyone else is wrong, but I use this section of the motorway at least 5 times a week.

As follows:

Lorry Drivers:- I believe this is the main cause of traffic jams on the motorways UK-wide. Why? A lorry is limited to 56mph. They see another lorry they want to overtake, therefore turn into the middle lane. Cue an ensuing battle where it will take at least a mile for the overtaking lorry to safely pull out, overtake, and pull back in.... all at the same speed as the lorry being overtaken. This then makes for the lesser confident car users to go into the fast lane which will slow others up, which then makes people tap their brake pedal - more on this later. Another thing with the lorry drivers is that they think they are being courteous by when a slip-road to get onto the motorway is approaching, they automatically get into the middle lane allowing for the car to have the whole normal (left hand lane) all to themself. Rubbish - if the vehicle on the slip road had any sense and was a safe enough driver, they wouldn't deliberately crash into a lorry trundling along minding his own business in the left hand lane???
It seems here that I'm pigeon-holing lorry drivers here and I'd be interested to hear from members who do this as a living. Two of my mates are lorry drivers and the industry I work in means I liaise with dozens of lorry drivers everyday and they all have the same attitude: car drivers on the motorway are peasants (because they are literally looking down on them), only lorries should be on the motorways anyway and they've got a place to be so they can finish earlier (I think this is where the overtaking which lasts a whole mile mentality comes from).

Unconfident Drivers:- I see day in day out brake lights flaring for no reason at all, which is down to unconfident drivers tapping their brake pedal for a bit of security/comfort. I read somewhere once that if someone taps their brake pedal just enough so that the brake light comes on, it causes a chain reaction so that the person behinds brakes that little bit harder which means that several miles back and one hour later the "final" car in the queue to brake would actually come to a stop. Don't know how true that is, but it sounds reasonable. I was going to do another section about people who don't know where they're going, but this category will do fine. People turning off at the last minute without indication, indeed so in the cross hatchings (I see this daily) and I've seen two cars on separate occasions embedded in the same crash barrier on the same junction inside a week. I'm not saying that everyone should have a sat-nav as not everyone likes them or can afford one (I use my phone's), but a little bit of knowledge where you are going on a highway limited at 70mph might be an idea?
I think the general consensus for me here is that if you're not that confident on the motorway, why are you using it at all?

Arrogant Drivers:- I constantly see tail-gating - and not by white transit vans - usually by a German-made vehicle with ghastly L.E.D. lights blotting out your whole rearview mirror in normal daylight which is so dangerous it's untrue. There's this thing that if you feel that someone in front of you is going too slow, then you should get up their rear end and flash your lights so they move into the slower lane, and then you're that frustrated that you had to put your brakes on and it slowed your journey down by 10 seconds, you should pull in wildly in front of them and "brake-test" them back. Idiots!
I also see plenty of people driving with mobiles plugged to their ears - including lorry drivers carrying in excess of 40 tons - ermmm, isn't that illegal?
People not driving to the conditions of the road - unbelievable how many cars I've seen screaming past me at 100+mph in the rain!
People who don't use indicators - they might as well have a sign slapped in their rear window reading: "I don't really care for my own life or others, so tough". A policeman once told me that you are encouraged to use your indicators whilst learning to drive and indeed on your driving test but apparently it is not required by law; unsure of how true this is?

Roadworks:- How long have you got?!

I should think that's it for now but I think it's nice to be nice and if everyone was a little more considerate (my driving instructor told me to give way to someone every journey, to which I have done ever since I passed my test 13 years ago) then the motorways would free up a little.

I'd really like your thoughts on this and to correct me if I am wrong. The only defence I have is that I see these things every day with my own eyes - maybe I'm interpreting them in a naive and bigoted fashion.

I'd also like to hear about other nightmare stretches of motorway, worldwide even, but the M25 keeps popping up in my head.

I will end here on a self-mickey-taking joke:

Q. Why is the M6 in Birmingham always congested?
A. Because people are always rubber-necking sighing with relief that they don't live there

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