Sigh of the times

trafficI got stuck in traffic today. Nothing unusual in that of course, happens almost every time you get into a car. But today was a little different as it was an accident that brought the whole thing to an unusually lengthy halt.

Thankfully it was nothing too serious. The police had coned off two lanes of the motorway, the middle lane blocked by a car that appeared to be involved but had no visible signs of damage while the hard shoulder contained two more that had clearly seen better days – the usual post-crash scenario.

I was irked at being held up of course, because driving to the office is enough of a headache on a normal day. But it was the behaviour of so many of the other drivers that drove me to leave teeth marks in the steering wheel.

The other carriageway was bad enough: rubberneckers risking their own personal accident in order to have a gawp at the carnage on the opposite side, although I’m happy to report they would have been disappointed at the lack of blood and helicopters presumably. If slowing down to look at an accident is really more important than getting where you are going you must be living an exceptionally dull life.

It was worse on this side though. As it became apparent that the three lanes of stop-start traffic had to filter into two and then a single lane, all sense of courtesy and consideration seemed to go out of the window. As I was stuck in lane one, I sat patiently with my indicator on waiting for a suitable gap or – wishful thinking – for someone to let me out. Thirty cars must have filed past, despite me being several hundred yards shy of the lane’s end, before some kind soul left me a suitable gap.

With a flash of the hazards as a thank you, I tried to keep a sensible slow pace in order to keep the lane moving rather than speeding up and slowing down. With the accident itself and the final row of cones in sight there was a clear need to get into lane three. But that didn’t stop a number of drivers, obviously more important than the rest of us queuing morons, blasting up the inside and trying to cut in at the end.

It was the usual suspects of course: high-end motors (you know the ones I’m talking about) no doubt each one carrying life-saving transplant organs although curiously there were no flashing blue lights or sirens. They must have left them off by mistake.

What seems to have escaped everyone’s collective notice is that merging neatly and fairly into the one remaining lane would actually speed the overall traffic flow, get everyone past the accident as quickly as possible and reduce the size of the jam. A tiny bit of courtesy and accepting that the world won’t end if you allow that car to be 12 feet in front of you can go a long way.

Matt Joy

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