A weekend after a week of near-misses

Okay, there were only 2, and they both happened last Monday, but they resonated.

With it being, what…?

5 months since I got a car, 6 (I think) since I passed my test, misjudgments are expected since it’s through error we learn.

Corners, I am forever misjudging them — I go from one extreme to the other, either around them too fast or too slow. I can’t seem to find a nice balance. It would be easier if every corner was similar. Some of them, fuck me, can make me feel like I’m in a centrifuge.

Roundabouts, a glorified corner — some I’m an expert at, others I can’t fathom. I end up in the wrong lane, scrape my wheels, and don’t really know what I’m doing. I even google-map these roundabouts, especially new ones, get all down in streetview, and still manage to get in a pickle. Things look different in real life when compared through a computer screen.

Junctions, a simple question of stop — it may have taken these months but I’ve almost got slowing down and stopping perfected. Almost. There’s the odd time when there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ and I’m abrupt.

Going straight, hard when you’re bent — I’ve mastered the straight line by daylight but under headlights, I need a load more practice. If there are streetlamps then it’s like daylight. But I recently drove to Southampton at night, along the dark M27, and found doing 70, using my headlights, and sticking to my lane, hard. I had to do 60 to manage it all. And also, under headlights, it’s not easy to see the rubber-dulled white lines. I’m just saying. I don’t pay road tax for them to be painted or anything.

Traffic lights, following the red, yellow, green — no longer the surprise they once were, I actually spot them in good time now. The same with zebra crossings.

Road position, my place in time — except when I go wrong, I do great.

Speed control, 0-70 — I’ve found that spot on the accelerator that keeps the needle where it ought to be. It doesn’t always stay there but I’ve found it.

Width judgement, just how big I am — I’ve grown to remember that I’m now about 4-foot fatter. Having a 6-foot arse, however, would be memorable if I parallel parked more often and got used to it. I don’t because everyone elses car looks so much more expensive than mine, so if I misjudge… and what do I do if I’m blocked in?

Loads of success from so many mistakes!

So in this spirit, it’s unsurprising that last Monday I made more.

Near-miss #1

I was heading out of Portsmouth, heading off to work at around 7 a.m., when the lane ahead of me was chocker so I changed. There was a white van in the lane to my right who wanted my new lane. I cut him up closely, he honked his horn, and that was the end of that.

In my defence, considering the layout of the roundabout, I don’t think Mr White Van was in the correct lane for the motorway. I think he was in the lane that takes you back into town. So although, yes, I did cut him up, I wouldn’t have if he’d followed the arrows.

I’ve taken the time to find evidence to back up my little theory. I’m in blue.

near-miss 1
Exhibit A
exhibit b
Exhibit B

During the little post-incident review I do after every little boo-boo, I determined my surroundings-awareness wasn’t up to scratch. For every lane change since I’ve reminded myself to make proper certain.

On Tuesday, Mr White Van did the exact same thing and someone else cut him up. I noticed his wing-mirror was being held together by duck tape. I suspect he finds himself in many predicaments.

Near-miss #2

Heading home from work (via McDs), heading down Goldsmith Avenue, there were in front of me 2 cars and a bus.

The bus stopped. The 2 cars overtook, as did I, and oh my!

The split-second it took for the second car to clear the bus was the cue for some dude in the coming traffic to go.

He hadn’t expected me and his face was priceless.

Fortunately, we both spotted each other and swerved like TCAS, except horizontally. It was helped that we both had small cars.

In the post-incident review, I determined that I: a) hadn’t used what I’d learnt from the day’s first incident; and, b) should’ve just waited behind the bus.

In my defence, although Mr Dude had the right of way, he should’ve ensured that way was clear before he exerted his right.

Sometimes you’ve just got to wait, and that’s a lesson for both of us.

So, what’s all this got to do with the weekend?

Nothing, really. It’s just a little more interesting than saying I did jack shit.

Besides, it’s good to acknowledge mistakes with a balanced view.

And it’s good to see, that yes I’m still a mild danger on the roads but I’m getting that little less dangerous every day, unless I’m having an off day. I have spotted how easily the attention gets attended and how quickly surroundings change.

But I’m getting there, I’m still learning.

I just need my desire to do to not better my judgement. This is a concept that doesn’t come naturally.

Tomos James