Friday, August 23, 2013

Aggressive drivers and horn honking etiquette

I’ve heard that Finland pales in comparison to other countries when it comes to aggressive drivers, I am referring to those making their madness very explicit to others by honking or acting nasty on the road. But there are some, and I am trying my best to keep calm and ignore their behavior.

I think I have been rather patient and calm while driving, and in the few occasions there have been drivers honking for no reason, I have kept my cool and ignore their ramblings. However, there have been cases on which I have made mistakes, not intentionally of course, but rather caused by my lack of driving experience or my lack of focus on the task at hand, on those occasions, the honking has had a bad effect on me, I had became nervous and panicky, and I could have easily caused an accident.

So, there is a lesson here, use your horn only when really needed and be considerate to other drivers when they make mistakes, do not vent your frustration at their driving skills by honking, it could be dangerous. Here some horn honking etiquette I have found on the net:

Now my horn honking tales. First, the mad drivers..

The pushy driver at a roundabout

I was approaching a roundabout and I was looking carefully and waiting for my time to get in. In most of the cases drivers do not signal when they intend to go out from it, so sometimes it is difficult to predict their intentions so I wait instead. Well, the guy behind me was not agreeing with my waiting and instead used his horn twice when I attempted to enter it but stop to wait for traffic inside the roundabout. I of course ignore him, took my time, got in the roundabout and continue my way. At some point I saw him overtaking me and others and driving quite above the speed limits. I hope he arrived safely at his destination..

The impatient driver

On another occasion while approaching a highway entrance with a give way sign, a motorcyclist was waiting to get into the highway entrance on the very right side of the lane, (instead of in the middle of it). I saw him and patiently wait for him to take the highway entrance road, meanwhile a motorist approached behind me who almost immediately got tired of waiting and used the horn, I guess he later realized I was not waiting there for the sake of it, but because a motorcyclist was in front of me, I could not just pass him, that would have been illegal.

The impatient driver #2. Some revenge involved

I got a green light at a left turn and started my turning, I did not know why the driver behind me used his horn this time, I think because I was not driving fast enough for his liking, but seriously you have to take the turns on a safe speed. Anyways, he went in front of me and stop at a traffic light further ahead. I was behind him this time, he then did not notice fast enough when the light turned green, so I used my horn this time J... (Not good for me, but I was upset at his behavior)

Then, my mistakes. 

The "fight" at the parking lot

This time I was about to take a left turn to enter a parking lot. My mind was already somewhere else instead of the task at hand, it was on the spot I wanted to park the car to, and on the list of things I needed to get from the shop. The road speed limit was 30 km/h, I saw a car approaching the turn as well, about 100 meters away from me, but instead of yielding at him I took the turn without even thinking, and he honked, understandably, then I approached the parking spot I wanted to use, I signaled I was taking it and the very same driver who got frustrated before, was trying to overtook me in the parking lot and he honked again!.. Man, I was shaking, two traffic mistakes, not yielding at the left turn and failing to look if somebody wanted to overtake me on a parking lot. 

Lesson to myself: Pay attention while driving always, concentrate on the task at hand, especially on parking lot.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Confusing lane grouping

Sometimes lane grouping signs can be confusing or they are indicated too fast to be able to react, I have turned right in more than one occasion when my intention was to go straight.  In one case I rightly did it, I was not allowed to continue straight on that lane, this happened in winter time, so the road was covered on snow and by the time I noticed the traffic signs above, it was almost impossible to change to the left lane due to incoming traffic, so I turned right. Luckily I was able to turn around further ahead so I got into the right road again and arrived at my destination.

See below the picture of the location (in the summer), imagine in the winter time the road is covered by snow, so you can only see the signs above and it gets dark already in the early afternoon.

I guess the main problem is that a single lane turns two without a warning and it can expand to the right or to the left. In the example above I had already avoided going to the left, that grouping was easier to notice, but further ahead the road went to a single lane again and then suddenly to two.

When I am driving on an unknown location on slow speed roads, e.g. 30 or 40 km/h limits I try to drive a little bit below the speed limit, and observe carefully how the lanes develop..

Usually, and I hope always, when there is a heavy traffic road, I expect the lane grouping to be clearly posted and with sufficient distance, but I have already turned right thinking that lane was for only that purpose, and when checking Google maps it was clear that lane was for both, for going straight and turning right. It is a bit of common sense really, there was not signs on the top of the road, (scary for the winter) and I swear the arrow painted on the road was faded and all I could see was the curvy arrow indicated right turn only..  Perhaps I am too sensitize from my past experience.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Going for a ride to unknown areas

I have not been posting for quite a while now, I think it is because driving is becoming less of a novelty to me, but there have been plenty of things happening while driving.

Kilometers driven:  5800 km.
Where: Mostly commuting, and using the same paths all the time.
Things I dread: Going to places I have never driven before
Preoccupied by: what others think of my driving, especially when I adventure taking roads I have not going through before.

If I plan to go somewhere I have not driven to before, I first check the route with Google maps on my computer, then, I use the street view on areas needing turning decisions and change of lanes to see how it really looks like at street level, still I use an external navigator while driving, but only as support device to remind me of those turning points. I like to know exactly which paths to take before I go. I laugh at myself just by writing this.

Even if I have seen the overall driving path, I have taken turns a bit before I should have to, and I have had to figure it out how to get back to the original road again. I have not really gotten lost, but figuring it out my way back, although quickly, it has not been stress free. I hate the “turn around when possible” instruction of my navigator, “hello, that I already knew”.

I’ve tried to drive on different roads without navigator and without using Google maps, mostly because I have been on the passenger seat before on those routes and I know the overall direction. The thing is, that I have to pay very well attention at the road signs indicating the direction to follow and check I have space to change lanes on time. What happens is those signs are not always very clear to me and I end up switching lanes unnecessarily, and at the last possible time, with caution of course.

Sometimes I wonder what other fellow drivers think of that behavior, maybe they think the driver is someone who does not know where is going, but is it really that bad?. I know that the next time I am driving the same road, this will not happen again because I will know which lane to take exactly.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Left turns. I avoided a collision!

My daily commute includes many left turns, they are tricky because the European traffic law basically says that when turning left I should give way to traffic approaching from all directions except from my left, and at intersections of roads of the same category, I must also give way to trams approaching from the left. Luckily I do not usually drive on roads with tram traffic, but I do have quite many challenges.

Winter and dark conditions adds difficulties to the already tricky left turn, e.g. a pile of snow can often be blocking my view from the road, and dark conditions impair visibility as well. Crossing a very busy road when turning left can be a test of patience but often I get considerate drivers yielding to me, which is a very nice thing.

A couple of days ago, a car nearly crashed into my car when turning left, the car was coming from the opposite direction but I was already in the intersection when this happened and although I was driving very slowly it would have been difficult to stop, I should have used the horn though because I could see the driver looking in all directions except in front of her, and it was like a movie in slow motion, thinking what to do, I  just continued turning and the driver from the other car stopped on time and I crossed safely. phew!

I've searched some info about left turns in Google and I've found this article, it is from the USA though, but I am wondering if the following is true in Europe.

When the left turn goes first, the oncoming car has to wait for the left turning vehicle to completely leave the intersection. If the oncoming car goes first, the left turning driver can start as soon as the oncoming car has entered the intersection

It looks like common sense to me, in my near collision incident I started turning first because there wasn't any car in the opposite direction when I started turning, but it came suddenly. See the picture below, taken from Google maps. I added a blue arrow to show where I was going, and the red one is the other car. I do have the feeling however that should a collision have taken place I would have been the one to blame.

My designer friends should ignore my arrow drawing skills I used paint :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lowest AVG HR ever!

I am glad to report I am feeling more relaxed while driving. Today on my morning commute I decided to track my heart rate while driving again, and the average was 94 bpm. it is the lowest ever, since November 2012 when I started driving. It means the route is familiar now, and I am more at ease handling my car. My husband and a couple of friends who have been on the passenger seat tell me they feel safe and that I should not worry too much about it. For comparison I put links to my first ever driving solo log and the one from today's.

I have not been updating this journal lately, because this driving thing is becoming more trivial, but I can write some notes to myself on my next goals.

Drive to the city center and parallel park.

The parallel park thing I prefer to do it when the snow disappears to be honest, and I think the city center is designed for walking not for driving, especially in the winter, but, I may adventure there, with my husband on my side first. He claims I lack the adventure gene, but I think one should be on the cautious side, especially when driving.

Get lost more often, and find my way home.

Just make sure I have a full tank before attempting it. This happened to me, although I was not planning on getting lost, I took a friend and his son along with my son to a party. I have checked two routes before hand and put the navigator just in case. Well I took the wrong highway exit and the only thing my navigator suggested was “to turn around when possible”. I attempted a new route but I took a couple of wrong exits again or I was not in the right lane to turn when the navigator suggested it. I was nervous, and when I calmed down and paid more attention to the instructions (especially the anticipate part, telling that a turn is approaching) I did it. I arrived safely to my destination and find my way back home after the party, but when driving there I was very close to go back home and take a taxi instead, I am glad I did not do it. It was really quite a long ride, but my friend was happy because her son took a nap.

Drive more economically.

I am actually not so sure how many liters per 100 km is my car doing, my estimation is 6.2 l per 100 km. It could be less, because this is based on approximations. I have spend 150 € on gas since I got my car in November, that is less than my husband averaging 100€ per month. And the car is doing the job of taking me to work (40 km route on weekdays) and a short errand occasionally. If distances are short enough I walk, and if I need to go to the city center I take public transport, it is difficult to find a parking space there, and indoor parking cost dearly (6€ per hour). Just for the sake of a challenge, let’s see if I get the Nissan Micra to use less gas.