I was involved in a serious accident when a fully laden semi trailer ran into the back of my car, virtually demolishing it. How I survived was a miracle, how I was able to walk away with just a few bruises was even more miraculous. Even the emergency workers who arrived on the scene couldn’t believe it. My car was crushed, the semi-trailer jack-knifed and ended upside down, and the driver had to climb out the window, but all I could blubber about was losing my shoes. They weren’t even designer ones, just the low-heeled type I always wore to work. “Stupid woman,” I heard a by-stander remark. “Worrying about her bloody shoes.”
I always leave a reasonable distance between my car and the one in front of me, only to be out-maneuvered by someone else squeezing into the gap. When the skies open up and the rain buckets down, giving the road surface the texture of an ice-skating rink, I reduce speed, while others roar past leaving fountains of water in their wake.
There are those who abuse me for stopping a few feet from a railway crossing when in a long line of traffic, instead of waiting in the middle of the tracks. Everyone knows the cars in front will move before the train comes. Perish the thought that when the lights do change, someone might stall and hold up the flow, so I’m left like a sitting duck at the mercy of the boom gates crashing on to my roof, or the 5.08 express train, running me into the ground. Selfish woman driver that I am – don’t I realize everyone else is in a hurry.
Why do I get upset when some maniac passes me on the wrong side of the road? After all I can easily slam on my brakes, and let them in front of me when the third lane they have created peters out. Tough luck if the truck almost sitting an inch away from my bumper bar can’t stop, but a few precious seconds gained, a few extra vehicles passed, means a lot when a driver is in a hurry. Don’t I realize how busy everyone is?
The lights are green in the distance; they change to amber when I am meters away. How can a woman be so stupid? All I have to do is accelerate, as long as my front wheels are at the intersection when the lights turn red, it’ll be o.k. The tooting driver behind me is obviously running late, and there are no police cars around.
One might be moved to ask what all the fuss is about. Everyone knows you have to take risks on the road, show the machine you’re driving who the boss is, intimidate other road users so they know how tough you are. After all, you’ll never have an accident because you’re such an expert driver.
A metamorphosis seems to come over many people when they climb behind the wheel. Their well-mannered, easygoing ways evaporate. They become ruthless predators, waiting to pounce on some unsuspecting victim, whose only crime is that they try to obey all the road laws.
Margaret Tanner is a multi-published Australian author