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.