I was on a lesson with a pupil recently, and we were driving from Chilwell through Long Eaton. It was busy, and traffic was queuing in both lanes for both of the roundabouts in the town centre.
My usual mantra to pupils is “stay in the left hand lane unless you know what you are doing”, and you’ll see why when you read on. In this case, just before the first roundabout in Long Eaton, there was an HGV waiting to turn left towards the Tesco store at the 1st exit. The exit was backed up with cars – presumably heading for Tesco – and on the 2nd exit (our destination) I could see there were two stopped buses, one of which was blocking the entire left lane. Beyond the second roundabout at its 2nd exit there were two lanes of queuing traffic merging into a single lane.
I saw all this in advance, mentioned it to my pupil, and instructed her to negotiate both roundabouts in the right-hand lane.
Once we had got through the roundabouts (see top picture), we approached the merge into single lane. We were alternately stopping and moving, and kept pulling alongside another car (the yellow one in the picture, above). As we came to the merge, I instructed my pupil to keep up with that car, but to let it go ahead of us, and we would merge behind it. I explained about merging in turn and not trying to cut other people up by being greedy.
Now, you’d think everything would have been all right. I mean, traffic going nowhere in a hurry, we were actually in the process of merging, with no intention of trying to cut anyone up, just dealing with the road conditions in the safest and most sensible way possible…
Except as we started to merge, a prat in a silver Corsa (what else?) came up alongside us – eyes staring straight forward, because that makes everything all right, of course – and forced her way in. You can see from the third picture what she did.
She had come around the roundabout some considerable time after us, and judging by her apparent age, the ink was probably still damp on her licence. It was absolutely clear what she was thinking and intending to do – and it wasn’t to allow us to complete the merge.
She had all the finger actions down to a ‘T’ when I turned to look at her. I rolled down my window and asked if she’d ever heard of “merge in turn”, and elicited some more finger gestures. She then accelerated forwards and tailgated the yellow car just to be doubly sure that she “won”. A typical chav.
She knew exactly what she was doing right from the start.
To make matters worse, an arsehole of a cyclist who was alongside commented “she had the right of way, mate” as he passed (I don’t think I really need to say much about cyclists and their understanding of the Highway Code). No. She. Didn’t. Not at that point, and under those circumstances. She was forcing her way in in a situation where she shouldn’t have. There was only one lane at that point, and my pupil was at least six car lengths past the end of the two-lane section.
The Highway Code recommends merging in turn in precisely these situations. It’s in Rule 134 if the chav or that smart-ass cyclist is reading this. It only advises against merging in turn at high speeds, because it would be dangerous.
Of course, my pupil was not in the wrong because she didn’t force her way in and wasn’t trying to do so. We were already in the only lane available at that point, and were moving in slow traffic. Right of way didn’t enter into it – other than that we already had it.
Rule 144 of the Highway Code refers to driving without due care and attention. This rule was rewritten not long ago to include more detail about what is acceptable and what isn’t, and I doubt that most road users (and especially chavs) can even remember what was in the older version, let alone this one (most cyclists are probably unaware that there’s even a Highway Code). And earlier this year, the RAC wrote an article, titled Driving without due care and attention – are you an offender? In it, they say:
The offence of driving without due care and attention – also referred to as careless driving – covers a multitude of motoring sins, from tailgating to tuning the radio…
Driving without due care and attention is not necessarily a ‘clear cut’ offence…
What comes under this offence..?
Examples of disregard for other road users may include [list shortened]:
- Driving aggressively
- Overtaking on the left-hand side
- Not giving way where appropriate
Rule 217 also has something interesting to say about behaving like a prat around other road users:
Learners and inexperienced drivers. They may not be so skilful at anticipating and responding to events. Be particularly patient with learner drivers and young drivers. Drivers who have recently passed their test may display a ‘new driver’ plate or sticker (see ‘Safety code for new drivers’).
Some people manage to tick all the boxes in one go, and those who are really into ‘P’ plate territory themselves are often the worst. I feel a proper article on merging coming on.