30 June 2010

Canberra driving: its a jungle out there

| BundahBoy
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Firstly thanks to the Riot Act team for throwing together a cracking forum. It truly helps to exorcise that itchy Canberra rant.

Im born and bred Canberra but left to live overseas around 12 years ago. Ive just returned to do what I promised myself never to do: work in the Public Service. High-five!

I came back to enjoy the many rosey-tinted recollections of the Berra that I had carried along my travels: the quality of the air, wide open spaces you dont find in most cities, the proximity to the snow and the coast and three lanes of empty roads in every direction. Thanks for the memories.

But what happened to three lanes of empty road bliss I remember so fondly? Peak hour in the ACT (or the ‘Public Service grand-prix’ as my boss calls it) is pure madness and Canberra PSGP drivers really take it up a notch. Big statement I know considering I’ve driven through Delhi on a motorbike, but in the last three months I have never been so defensive behind the wheel.

Whats with the people that drive at 40km in 80km zones and when you try to overtake them they accelerate in an attempt to run you off the road, or into a tree, or both? What about being Tailgated at high speed so close that you cant see their headlights but they dont overtake you, is that fun for them? Or drivers that pull out in front of you at the very last minute that don’t even bother checking to see if you’re there? And people with their indicators always on! Dear oh dear I could go on and on.

And after all the crazed public servants who have competed for a podium place have made it home alive, the empty roads are stalked late night by drunk/stoned/tripping bogans in early model Commodore sedans on the run from the coppers.

Anyways, over dramatics aside, can anyone enlighten me on why they think the common Canberra driver is so bad? I should know, I am (or was) one. But I got nothing.

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claireinqbn said :

Oh, and this forum is great – whoever thought of it and constructed it should be knighted, if such were possible.

I’m campaigning to have Johnboy named Australian of the Year. Running a good website does much more for the thousands of readers than plenty of other people have been given honours for! 😉

Public servants are also causing high petrol and cigarette prices by driving up demand.

westyonline said :

PUBLIC SERVANTS CAN’T DRIVE VERY WELL…no more needs to be said!

I find the candlestick makers much worse than the public servants

Thumper said :

PUBLIC SERVANTS CAN’T DRIVE VERY WELL

Source?

come on, just one will do?

My drive to work yesterday morning

PUBLIC SERVANTS CAN’T DRIVE VERY WELL

Source?

come on, just one will do?

PUBLIC SERVANTS CAN’T DRIVE VERY WELL…no more needs to be said!

Mmm. I would be more worried about people who drive at 80kph in 40 zones than the other way around. I haven’t witnessed that (yet!) but there are a lot of young men in a hurry in this town (and women, too – girls seem to think it’s cool to emulate boys’ bad habits these days, behind the wheel and otherwise, which I find tragic).

The roadworks are irritating – especially in Anzac Parade, which is on my route to work – does anyone know what they’re actually doing there, or is it one of those projects that’s been going for several generations and whose purpose has been forgotten? And the road surfaces are generally poor – potholes and rough edges everywhere, in Queanbeyan and Canberra. And speaking of Queanbeyan roads, the only bumpfest around town to get a resurface lately is Crawford Street. The stretch where the council offices are. Yes, nowhere else.

Having said that, I’ve driven in London, Johannesburg and Sydney and I’d rather be a Canberra driver any day of the week. And Canberrans are lovely as well. Oh, and this forum is great – whoever thought of it and constructed it should be knighted, if such were possible.

Canberra drivers bad? Road death rates per 10,000 registered vehicles, per 1,000,000 population or per billion person kilometres (all per year) can be found on the internet, even Wikipedia lists them. Australia is one of the safest places in the world to be on the roads and the ACT is the safest jurisdiction in Australia most years. This incidentally gives the lie to most of the crap handed out by government agencies about road safety.

Sure there are tailgaters and those whose indicators are permanently broken, even some speeders. Some of us can’t merge. There are even a few whose indicators seem to permanently signal left turns. But I have yet to see the bizarre behavior here that I have seen in some country towns, such as car driven blithely on the wrong side of a divided road or right turning behind a vehicle at a stop sign.

I agree enforcement is an issue however how do you enforce the road rules when the popo is going job to job dealing with thieves and the like and not being able to devote the time to traffic enforcement. A lot of drivers in Canberra drive with their head up their arse and have no regard for other road users. Surely people must take responsibility for their own actions…I know I know wishfull thinking!! For those who dont have a solid grasp of the road rules in this day and age with google..there is no excuse surely….Good on the Police for doing what they do, you have plenty of support in the community.

Instead of whinning and putting forth uneducated solutions have a think about it , do some research and then speak. If in doubt go and see the guys at TISC and they will sort you straight.

I think Canberra drivers are unique. I grew up in Canberra, but moved to Sydney 10yrs ago and i have driven all over the world. Many ACT drivers are not used to driving in close proximity, they get flustered and angry if a car gets in their personal space. In Sydney, people are quick, efficient and generally courteous, they are much better drivers. Canberra drivers dont develop skills to deal with heavy traffic and the quality of the roads is a factor i think as well as the space.

Many Canberra drivers get genuinely offended if you get within 5 metres of them, even if they dont have to adjust for you, they do drive with a sense of entitlement to space.

When on my motorbike, i am generally much more cautious in Canberra (though i am cautious everywhere on the bike).

I believe on average Canberra drivers are the least skilled i have come across – and it is part attitudinal and part the learning environment (big open roads and very little traffic – although this is changing i see)

i also notice you get treated very differently depending on your car.

i have a couple of supercars as well as mazda 3 (i bought my sister) and a holden. When in a flash car, people go out of their way to make things difficult. When in the mazda or holden, there is nothing like the same treatment.

In Sydney, the supercars get the odd look but thats about it (although out west, they get a lot of invitations to street race), but i never feel people alter their driving because of the make of your car.

i ride a Harley sometimes and people always treat me with courtesy when i am on that puppy.

i think ‘sterile and unfriendly’ is a harsh assessment of Canberrans, but not overly so…in my experience, many people are distant and aloof compared to Sydney, where they are more straight up friendly or straight up rude…

i think people who live out of the ACT for an extended period of time are noticeably different to the lifers too –

it seems like a strange place whenever i visit and getting stranger, but i love it all the same and i proudly call myself a Canberran (but not because of the drivers)

I don’t think it has anything to do with being spoilt by wide roads or the lack of police presence. Compared to the larger cities here and around the world there is simply a lot of jerks in Canberra. The place is full of them. I don’t know if it’s the demographic or if it’s the lack of entertainment but Canberra is full of people who are really not very nice.

As with most of you posting to this thread, I’ve spent a lot of time in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and a few of the major cities in the US and these places are full of friendly and helpful people. Canberra is not! It is a sterile and unfriendly place to live. Now before I get shot down in flames and told to move to another city – I have met a lot of good people here, made a lot of good friends but I am not the only one with these opinions about Canberra. And it is not just Canberra bashing, it’s based on experience and fact!

I really don’t see how the bad attitudes of Canberra’s motorists can be blamed on wide roads or lack of police or anything other than a jerk with a bad attitude. Let’s take responsibility for our actions people!

@Jurls – Yeah that sounds quite reasonable, I guess I was thinking of what I do on my own. A lot of drivers do tailgate – once I actually had a motorbike give the worst tailgate (inches away from my bumper). I wasn’t impressed so I slowed down to 40…in a 60 zone (lol)

Mark said :

@Jurls – I know, that happens a fair bit towards Civic particularly. If they really irk me, I just slow down by a km or two and let them froth and fume…

Believe me Mark, if I didn’t have two babies in the car I would have slowed right down. This was out on Majura Road and I didn’t want to risk him actually hitting me, as we were driving at 90kmh which was way too fast for him to be driving that close :s

@Jurls – I know, that happens a fair bit towards Civic particularly. If they really irk me, I just slow down by a km or two and let them froth and fume…

Maybe it’s because a lot of drivers here want to be cool and edgy (you know, cutting people off, tailgating to reach a destination one second faster, exercising the limits of a Volvo or Hyandai supercar) …but don’t have the skills to back it up = hence, dangerous driving.

Since when has doing the right thing been so difficult? Some of us have been driving for 40 plus years with a clean licence, much of it in conditions a lot less favourable than we have here. IMO more repeat offenders should be denied the privilege.

justin heywood7:12 pm 01 Jul 10

In my opinion*, Canberra drivers are MUCH worse than most other Australian cities. There is something peculiar about the communal psyche in Canberra. You only have to regularly visit RiotAct to see what the problem is:

Aggressive abuse of anyone who doesn’t fit the mold of acceptable behaviour or thought.
Nitpicking and intolerance of the slightest mistake.
Absolute self-belief in one’s own superiority and entitlement.
A willingness to say and do things that would not be acceptable in a face-to-face relationship.

All these traits are demonstrated here every day, just as they are on our roads.

*5 years a resident, and generalising madly.

Perhaps our angst-ridden, arogant, domineering, risk taking behaviour as drivers is a result of the constant reduction of our liberties.

We are now treated as probable criminals & terrorists at many points in our daily existence, demonstrated by the CCTV cameras everywhere, body security checks at airports, 100 point identity checks for most financial operations, and cameras monitoring our on-road behaviour.

We are also treated as milch cows. At every turn, business goes to enormous lengths to extract the maximum financial gain during every transaction. The airport may as well have a bloody great sign at the entry saying ‘We WILL get your money’, even if you are there for 5 minutes. Government cannot increase charges, fees and fines quickly enough.

Driving is about the only activity where you can scream at the other (incompetent) drivers, get your own back by getting and staying in front, behaving badly, all simply because on-road behaviour is non personal and poorly policed.

A theory possibly worth further study?

And those who overtake only to turn or veer left a hundred metres up the road. Happens too often to be a sudden change of plan.

As for offending trades vehicles – more than a fair share of the tailgaters, the HiLuxes and Navaras with only one person on board who feel they can whiz along the T lane, or weave in and out doing whatever speed they like on their way home or to the pub at three or four in the afternoon – wonder how many of those drivers are on a special licence to allow them to work?

I have only recently arrived in Canberra and I have to say, the drivers here are APPALLING!! Seriously. I’ve been driving for nearly 20 years in the UK and New Zealand and the level of aggression is tenfold here compared to either of those countries. I had actually thought New Zealand was bad, but this place takes the biscuit.

Only yesterday, I was out with my baby twins in the car. I was driving along quite happily at exactly the speed limit, only to be forced to speed up due to a lorry driving right up to my rear bumper. What about keeping a safe distance you ass? I’ve got babies in the car! Selfish dick. I cannot remember the last time I felt such huge road rage, which was probably increased by having my children in the car. I can’t understand though what makes that driver feel he has the right to do that? Being in a lorry he must have seen I had babies in the car. I simply don’t understand it. 🙁

Woody Mann-Caruso9:23 am 01 Jul 10

Well, glad that’s all sorted then. Jethro has a few anecdotes, so it’s all a fact, and no debate is required.

many people who are incompetent at something have absolutely no idea they are incompetent

You don’t say.

Surely if all cars were registered drivers would comply with all the road rules?

ConanOfCooma8:47 am 01 Jul 10

Spoono said :

I’ve been driving in Canberra for nigh on 6 years now and I’ve not had a problem with other road users.

Here’s one of them!

I don’t see how there is any debate on this topic. The fact is, Canberra is overly represented by aggressive maniacs who tailgate, abuse, flash lights, illegally overtake and generally harass those who dare to drive at 60 in a 60 zone or 80 in an 80 zone. If these people had a gun and used it as flippantly and dangerously as they use a car they would be in jail for dangerous use of a deadly weapon. The appalling lack of any policing on Canberra roads means they know they can do whatever the hell they want with absolutely no consequence until they end up taking out either themselves (preferred option) or (more likely option) some poor bastard who had the unfortunate luck to have to share a road with them.

Canberra is also overly represented by people who are simply clueless to anything going on around them. Some of the dodgy things I have seen people pull here are unbelievable.

There was the guy who was half-way up a one way exit ramp coming off Parkes Way who realised he was on the wrong ramp, so he just stopped, chucked his car into reverse and went back down the ramp, forcing all the cars behind him to take some quick evasive action.

Or there was the woman who decided it would be a good idea to drive straight ahead from a turn right only lane that had another right hand turning lane to its left.

I have a feeling that the people claiming that there is nothing wrong with Canberra drivers would be people who themselves fall into the category of clueless Canberra drivers. The New York Times has been running an interesting series of articles, which basically argued that many people who are incompetent at something have absolutely no idea they are incompetent, because the skills that they need to succeed are the same skills they need to assess their ability. (You mean I shouldn’t just pull out into oncoming traffic without so much as a glance in the direction the cars are coming from?)

I have driven a fair bit in every capital city except Perth, as well as in quite a few European countries and the USA. Canberra drivers scare me more than anyone.

Well, that’s my rant for the year.

IMO Canberra drivers are slowpokes and ridiculously safe compared to NYC & most parts of the U.S. No one drives fast.

This road toll witchhunt that the media always pisses and moans about is just an excuse for politicians to tax the shit out of Australians by putting up more speed cameras/camera vans when in reality they could give a rats ass about your safety. Road Toll mania is simple an
excuse for taxing you.

Per capita Australia accidents aren’t significantly higher than other countries. Set up more cameras give everybody a ticket if it makes them feel better? lol The Gov’t is strung out like a F**king research monkey on these cameras and the billions of dollars they make, much like video poker machines,cigarette taxes, alcopop taxes, automobile tax, book taxes, anything imported tax etc etc

Ever notice most of the gov’t attempts to protect the safety of Australians includes taxing or fining and or overcharging them?

I guess you could call it the government toll

Interstate tradies. Whenever I see a too-close tailgater (i.e. so close I can’t see their headlights in my rear vision mirror) I just lower my speed to 5kph below the limit until they get impatient and overtake. It’s inevitably a ute or a hilux driven by a flouro jacket.

Tradies are obnoxious drivers. Plain and simple.

georgesgenitals7:04 pm 30 Jun 10

Deckard said :

Here’s a video of Delhi driving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez51BvI-RY8

Notice how no one tailgates, everyone indicates and sticks to their lane.

The difference in places like that is that people let each other in, get out of eachs others way where they can, and don’t get all angry about traffic merging around them.

Canberrans are spoilt with good roads, and it has made them sloppy.

I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Just remember you are all alone in this mechanised madness because plod is busily prioritising reports and cannot attend, its donut time or preparing for Obama’s visit. Also, be aware the next person is trying to maim or kill you because there is a general amnesty on bad/criminal road behaviour and all will be fine. Besides, they don’t give an f about anyone but their lousy snivelling lot in life.

Excuse me, I am just going to jump in the bullbar/foglight clad battlewagon ToyoNissan Landf#cker and battle the 1km down to the shops for a litre of milk.

SolarPowered5:30 pm 30 Jun 10

Deckard said :

Notice how no one tailgates, everyone indicates and sticks to their lane.

Looks like lanes are optional.

SolarPowered said :

What gets up my nose is the lack of “the wave”. It is commonplace in Sydney. But Canberrans never give the wave when you let them in.

+over9000. Bastards. Also while I’m in a ranting mood, non-nod-returning scooter pilots should all die in a horrible fire.

I find it interesting how in Sydney, Harley riders pretty much always return the nod (and sometimes a bonus wave!), yet in Canberra I get no better than about 1%. Perhaps most Canberran Harley owners are actually closet scooter fanboys but don’t want to be viewed as flappy-wristed girlymen

Here’s a video of Delhi driving.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez51BvI-RY8

Notice how no one tailgates, everyone indicates and sticks to their lane.

MrNurseRatchet4:30 pm 30 Jun 10

I’ve lived in several large metropolitan areas in the States, Sydney, and now Canberra. It’s funny that you should post this as I recently remarked to my partner how much road rage I’ve witnessed here in Canberra compared to other cities. I don’t quite understand it. Saw a guy in a huge SUV screaming at the top of his voice at a woman who accidentally pulled out in front of him in a parking garage. She was clearly apologetic, but he kept on screaming. Tiny penis size aside, couldn’t figure out why he was so upset. I mean, it happens, right? Seriously though, Canberra drivers seem to have an entitled air about them and am unsure if it’s the wealthy politicians or disgruntled country folk that think a 5 min traffic jam is a catastrophe.

Thoroughly Smashed4:28 pm 30 Jun 10

Jim Jones said :

Much better to calmly follow them home and feast on their tasty tasty brains.

In most cases I suspect this would leave me feeling unfulfilled.

Very Busy said :

I agree that this can be a problem, but, this is a symptom, not a cause. More often than not, the car wanting to change lanes had ample opportunity to do so earlier but instead decides to get past you and then push in infront of you. Who is the aggressive one??

If you move to prevent them changing lanes, then everyone is being aggressive I suppose.

I agree, there are some selfish drivers who pull stupid crap to get a few car lengths ahead, but why make things worse by preventing them from changing lanes?

Much better to calmly follow them home and feast on their tasty tasty brains.

Clown Killer3:55 pm 30 Jun 10

BS. I commuted in both Sydney and Canberra nearly every week all last year. On a motorbike. They are night and day, and clearly I’m not alone in feeling this: …

I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. Any given week I’ll drive in Canberra, Sydney, Perth and in and between regional centres in NSW and WA. I honestly don’t perceive any difference whatsoever – certainly nothing that would indicate that drivers at any one location were overall, better or worse than anywhere else.

I agree with SolarPowered! Common courtesy and the lack of enforcement seem to be the problem.

Jim Jones said :

But it doesn’t change the fact that if you turn on your indicator (*GASP* “using an indicator … is he MAD?!”) and try to change lanes in, for example, Sydney or Melbourne, odds are that the car will slow down in order to let you into the lange.

This is quite a rare occurrence in Canberra. It does happen, but more often that not if you signal your intention to change lanes, the car in the lane you’re attempting to move to will speed up to block you (or simply ignore your indicator until you change lanes, at which point they’ll go freaking ape-shit because you ‘cut them off’).

It’s this sort of aggression that baffles me. And yet if someone drives aggressively and refuses to let me change lanes, and I do the right thing and follow them home and beat them to death with a tire iron, for some reason I’m considered a criminal.

Crazy, huh.

I agree that this can be a problem, but, this is a symptom, not a cause. More often than not, the car wanting to change lanes had ample opportunity to do so earlier but instead decides to get past you and then push in infront of you. Who is the aggressive one??

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Would you like some French cries to go with your waaahmburger? You’ve driven in Delhi but think that sleepy Canberra is ‘pure madness’? Hysterical exaggeration, much?

C’MON Woody, wheres your sense of humour? You must drive after 9 and before 5. Or not at all? Im going with Action bus commuter.

Jim Jones said :

But it doesn’t change the fact that if you turn on your indicator (*GASP* “using an indicator … is he MAD?!”) and try to change lanes in, for example, Sydney or Melbourne, odds are that the car will slow down in order to let you into the lange.

It’s been a couple of decades now, but I’ve lived in both Lane Cove and Marrickville in Sydney, and the attitude of drivers there were markedly different.

In Marrickville the roads were relatively small and or narrow, and the major thoroughfares extremely busy. Nonetheless, it was dead easy to merge, change lanes, turn corners etc because you could guarantee you’d be let in quite quickly by someone else, and if you were smart you paid the same courtesy through to the next driver that needed to do likewise. It was still stop-start gridlock, but it worked after a fashion, and (relatively) calm.

Lane Cove on the other hand was remarkably like Canberra – trying to merge onto Lane Cove road in the mornings frequently took up to 5 mins before anyone’d give you a break in the traffic – even if the traffic was stopped they’d park across your exit and not look at you. Drivers were astoundingly rude and arrogant and would cut you off / tailgate as a matter of course. Aggro, no indicators, nasty, nasty attitudes… A great place to leave. If Canberra traffic ever gets as congested as Lane Cove it’ll be a nightmare.

SolarPowered3:09 pm 30 Jun 10

What gets up my nose is the lack of “the wave”. It is commonplace in Sydney. But Canberrans never give the wave when you let them in.

I drove at night in Canberra for the first time last week. I was terrorised by tailgaters and speedster hoons. They sure do come out at night.

Lack of enforcement seems to be the problem.

Clown Killer said :

With the noticeable exception of a seeming pathological inability to merge (particularly on parkways) I can’t say that I have noticed Canberra drivers to be any worse than anywhere else in Australia (and similarly Drivers from other cities are no better than Canberra drivers).

BS. I commuted in both Sydney and Canberra nearly every week all last year. On a motorbike. They are night and day, and clearly I’m not alone in feeling this:

Jim Jones said :

But it doesn’t change the fact that if you turn on your indicator (*GASP* “using an indicator … is he MAD?!”) and try to change lanes in, for example, Sydney or Melbourne, odds are that the car will slow down in order to let you into the lange.

In Sydney full time now and loving it. I do miss the Canberra winter though

Clown Killer2:45 pm 30 Jun 10

Where does the bizzare misconception that Canberra’s roads are somehow bigger, wider, better and less crowded and that somehow that makes a difference?

It would be more logical to say that Canberra drivers are bad because the National Gallery hosts exhibitions of fine art, or the more probable Canberra drivers are bad because unlike Sydney we dont have an opera house of the harbour.

Buzz2600 said :

…but our roads are not sooo busy to hamper the grand prix mob – who still manage to speed, tailgate and cut in with reckless abandon.
quote]

You’re probably right, Buzz. Thing is, though, that I (for example) could live with that iff (that’s if and only if) the ‘competitors’ had the skill level to safely and confidently pull that sort of caper off. I mean, I pay good money (and sometimes large chunks of it) in order to actually participate in and experience that sort of thing as — get this — a recreational activity. OK, OK, so it’s on a closed circuit and yadah yadah. But, I can tell — you develop a sense for this after a while — that those kiddies mixing it with us all on the Parkway are simply writing cheques that they can’t possibly cash in terms of vehicle control.

luther_bendross1:40 pm 30 Jun 10

Wow, this topic is popping up a lot lately. Like a lot of others have said above, there’s a higher-than-normal concentration of drivers around Canberra. Why? Because they’re (and we’re) used to having lots of space and not a lot of traffic. The rules are extremely poorly enforced here (four years and not one RBT, and those speed vans couldn’t be parked in more overt places) and the infrastructure is terrible (I’ve said it before, GDE, all roadworks at once, Glenloch, lanes that ‘merge’ without warning). Stanhope needs to pull his finger out, stop wasting money on stupid sculptures and start paying the AFP to patrol as traffic cops.

Buzz2600 said :

Or maybe its just that you notice bad driving in Canberra because you have the luxury of good roads and proper signage, where as in other cities, you are too busy trying to figure out where you are, where you’re heading and what lane you’re meant to be in before you hit the toll/car in front/concrete barriers?

Perhaps.

But it doesn’t change the fact that if you turn on your indicator (*GASP* “using an indicator … is he MAD?!”) and try to change lanes in, for example, Sydney or Melbourne, odds are that the car will slow down in order to let you into the lange.

This is quite a rare occurrence in Canberra. It does happen, but more often that not if you signal your intention to change lanes, the car in the lane you’re attempting to move to will speed up to block you (or simply ignore your indicator until you change lanes, at which point they’ll go freaking ape-shit because you ‘cut them off’).

It’s this sort of aggression that baffles me. And yet if someone drives aggressively and refuses to let me change lanes, and I do the right thing and follow them home and beat them to death with a tire iron, for some reason I’m considered a criminal.

Crazy, huh.

I think we have a clash of two opposing forces here …

1. the “inattentive/clueless” mob

and

2. the “grand prix” mob (who really are just prix in the phonetic-sounding sense of the word).

Canberra roads are too busy now for the clueless mob to get away with their slack driving skills and inattentiveness/inability to merge/give way/use an indicator

…but our roads are not sooo busy to hamper the grand prix mob – who still manage to speed, tailgate and cut in with reckless abandon.

Or maybe its just that you notice bad driving in Canberra because you have the luxury of good roads and proper signage, where as in other cities, you are too busy trying to figure out where you are, where you’re heading and what lane you’re meant to be in before you hit the toll/car in front/concrete barriers?

Woody Mann-Caruso12:57 pm 30 Jun 10

Would you like some French cries to go with your waaahmburger? You’ve driven in Delhi but think that sleepy Canberra is ‘pure madness’? Hysterical exaggeration, much?

OK . . . so there’s mostly reasonable competent operators out there. But, it is equally fair to say that the incompetents are over-represented. The PSGP is not an entirely enjoyable experience. Tailgaters: check. Ultra-violet indicators: check. Inability to merge: check (you’d get strung up if you merged like that in, say, Austria). Driving at all times at night with fog / driving lights on: check (it’s illegal, people). Driving with no lights on at all, in grey / silver vehicle, when rainy or at dusk / dawn: check (I know you can see, but no-one can see you). ‘Hook’ turn when turning right / left: check (if you’re turing right, Mavis, please do so from as far as practicable to the right as possible. Don’t swing the car left just before you turn in you lazy cow . . . just turn the wheel a little more and faster from closer to the centre line). Turning into left hand lane of dual lane carriageway when turning right into it from single lane / traffic controlled side street: check (also illegal, not to mention dangerous). P platers: check (‘P’ for pathetic, particularly unskilled, performance challenged, poor attitude etc etc).

I see these things all over OZ, but I swear the density of it in Canberra is increasing. the lack of enforcement . . . could be something in that. But, it also starts with education. Some of Mark Skaife’s recent comments are worth considering. The demonstrations I see of car control / road placement skills and general driver attitude are simply egregious.

Holden Caulfield12:36 pm 30 Jun 10

Deckard said :

What an original post!!

I really don’t know why anyone lives in this city. We seem to have the worlds worst drivers, cyclists, cops, local government, radio stations, newspaper, coffee, blah blah blah blah…

Nah, it’s just the cyclists that are the worst. I read that on here, actually.

Apart from that, Bosworth scored a hole in one.

Driver attitude is to blame (mostly). For some reason a cocoon of metal turns many otherwise normal and compassionate human beings into stark raving lunatics. I’ve suffered from the phenomenon a few times myself. It’s a weird thing, really. NFI why it happens, just need to relax and take a deep breath from time to time.

Clown Killer12:15 pm 30 Jun 10

With the noticeable exception of a seeming pathological inability to merge (particularly on parkways) I can’t say that I have noticed Canberra drivers to be any worse than anywhere else in Australia (and similarly Drivers from other cities are no better than Canberra drivers).

Perhaps I’ve just got better and more rewarding things to do with my life than get all worked up about what some other a-hole is getting up to on the roads.

Deckard said :

We seem to have the worlds worst drivers, cyclists, cops, local government, radio stations, newspaper, coffee, blah blah blah blah…

You forgot customer service, real estate agents and judges 😛

I have to say, most of the time I drive around Canberra it is a pleasant experience. Everything is easy to get to without taking forever sitting in traffic, but I do find that most people drive too fast and aggressive.

Last night I was driving home and was in pole position at the lights when I heard a siren. I couldn’t see where it was coming from, but it was close so I stayed where I was to make sure the intersection stayed clear when the light turned green. I paused for about 4 seconds and people started honking their horns and overtaking me at speed, just as a fire truck came speeding through the intersection nearing cleaning up a bunch of the idiots. They had to stop to let the cars clear the intersection and a bunch of drivers on the other side of the intersection took that as a cue to start moving too, further jamming the intersection and making the truck wait even longer. All for the sake of getting to the next intersection 10 seconds faster…

Bundahboy, I agree with you. I think Australian (not just Canberra) drivers are very aggressive and very discourteous. This was really driven home to me after I did a MsCheeky world tour that took in New York, London, Paris, Istanbul, Bangkok and Singapore all in one trip, (though I have also travelled to many other countries and seen traffic in big cities in India, Vietnam, South America etc etc).

While traffic in those big cities is often noisy, with lots of horn-blowing, it is not aggressive in ways such as refusing to merge or give way, tailgating etc that you get here, where people seem to think that their bit of road is territory to be jealously guarded. Do people seriously believe that refusing to let the car next to you merge in front of you is going to get you somewhere sooner?

Why is this so? I got nothing either. Perhaps we’re just spoiled?

My experience places “bad” Canberra drivers at the inattentive/clueless end of the spectrum for the most part, which is why I often do treat them as obstacles – I’d much rather have bad drivers behind me than in front of me. That said, I’m not exactly seething from door-to-door every day, the traffic here just isn’t that bad.

My pet theory is that Canberra suffers from generalised “slow town syndrome”. People here have never really learned how to move efficiently through crowded spaces, whether it be the Parkway at peak minute or the Canberra Centre on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t know whether I’m becoming less tolerant as I age, but I can’t go into Woden Woolies at the weekend without emerging with an overwhelming urge to punch someone in the face (probably the woman who left her trolley parked across aisle 5).

Sorry, what were we talking about?

What an original post!!

I really don’t know why anyone lives in this city. We seem to have the worlds worst drivers, cyclists, cops, local government, radio stations, newspaper, coffee, blah blah blah blah…

I suspect that a main driver of the problem may be the individual/selfish mentality of drivers, which causes other drivers to be thought of as obstacles and competitors.

marcothepolopony9:53 am 30 Jun 10

Remember the post in January this year when a reader posted that there was little or no ‘tailgating’ happening?
We knew by June when the tradies were back at work this short lived reprieve would cease, and how right we were.
We are right to be exasperated by hoons in Commodores tailgating us on the Parkway every afternoon.

Unfortunately, about 10 years ago, Stanhope decided that the best way to enforce our road rules was to use speed cameras. He decided that traffic police were no longer needed because the speed cameras could do their job.

Also unfortunately, he forgot that speed cameras don’t detect all the other road rules. He also didn’t realise that you would need speed cameras every 100 metres on every street in Canberra make any difference to the speeds that people drive at.

The result is that people do the wrong thing because they can. We now have a free for all on Canberras streets and it has been progressively worsening over the past 10 years. Sure, every now and then we have traffic blitzes but they are usually just speed traps or RAPID checks and are conducted on wide safe roads such as Adelaide Ave or the Monaro Hwy to target safe drivers who drive at 85kmh in an 80 zone.

The decline will continue unless we go back to the old way. Stanhope may even have to throw some money at proper enforcement of the road rules (heaven forbid). Even if he did, it will probably take 10 years of low tollerence traffic police saturation to change the attitudes of Canberra drivers back to where they were in the 80’s and 90’s.

I’m not just talking about road safety here. I’m also talking about the rude, ignorant, arrogant and self centered behaviour that is now so common and makes driving so much less enjoyable than it used to be.

icantbelieveitsnotbutter9:34 am 30 Jun 10

I starts in the education… we should have professional driving instructors teaching students how to drive, at least when they first get in the car. After that, if the parent (who are mainly responsible for passing on many bad habits mentioned) want to teach, so be it.

I’ve been driving in Canberra for nigh on 6 years now and I’ve not had a problem with other road users.

Agree. I think it’s 3 main things: (1) Canberrans are used to their big wide roads getting them anywhere within 15 minutes. People lose their patience when it takes 25 or 30 minutes, thanks to poor planning like the GDE (among others). (2) Speed camera vans – part of an unbelievably lazy approach to “safety”. People know that the chances of getting caught driving aggressively are almost zero. I could go on and on about this. (3) A whole generation of drivers who have never been pulled over by the police for anything. There’s never any police presence – I think I’ve been breath tested precisely once in the last 10 years.

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