Everyone should drive like Lewis Hamilton.
Much has been made this week of the Formula1 championship battle and as I write this Lewis Hamilton has become the 2014 world champion. Well done to him, but in my experience as a driver, much needs to be improved about the quality of driving and marshalling.
When televised, the Sunday hero is usually the driver at the front, but I always find the driver at the front of my particular queue is a pain in the arse.
‘How unpatriotic’ I hear you cry. ‘How about a little support for Lewis’ you say. Well, let me elaborate. Whenever Lewis Hamilton gets ahead of the traffic, the totally unbiassed BBC commentary team starts leaping up and down and cheering for another British victory. However, it is a very different story when Grandpa Pottering takes the lead, because he has clearly not read the FIA Handbook.
If more people drove like racing drivers, the roads would be much safer and most journeys would be completed quickly and efficiently.
Grand Prix street circuits.
If you follow Formula One you will know the excitement of street circuits, and even those who have no interest in motor racing will be familiar with the luxurious spectacle of the Monaco Grand Prix. At the other end of the scale, the M5 Grand Prix has little TV coverage and this is probably because of the quality of the drivers participating.
Drive through penalty.
When I suggest that everyone should be a racing driver, I am not referring to the technique adopted by Mr Onya-Bumper who thinks he is king-of-the-road because he can squeeze a ton out of his BMW. Anyone can do that, and it definitely doesn’t make them either a good or safe driver. These days, almost every car on the road is capable of breaking the highest of our speed limits, so driving fast is not the issue. In fact, while Hamilton and co are some of the best practitioners of high speed road use, they clearly demonstrate that foot to the floor is not always the way to be a winner. For example, speeding in the pit lane is something that can cost a driver a championship, so they will do everything possible to ensure they adhere to the speed limit.
Like any circuit there are different sectors to the track, each with its own unique qualities and requirements. Sector 3 of the M5 circuit (or sector 1, depending on which direction you are travelling) from Exeter to Plymouth is currently under yellow flags. This is because there is a danger of workmen on the track, so a stretch of it is restricted to 50mph. Admittedly, there are rarely any workmen doing any work, but if one did turn up and found himself on the road there is a chance that Mr Eightyfive-Inafifty would have him on the bonnet before he had time to finish his text message. Maybe there is a reason for the speed limit.
Stop and go penalty.
The blue flag is another instance when the best drivers in the world slow down. It basically says, ‘Sorry mate, but you are not quite as good as you think you are, so pull over and let the other guy past’. And so, because there are penalties for ignoring the rules, the chap in front pulls safely out of the way and allows the car behind to pass.
During the M5 Grand Prix, a common obstacle to contend with is those who ignore the blue flags. Somewhere in the FIA street circuit handbook (probably section-742 paragraph-7 subsection 3.2.0) it clearly states, ‘Get out of the middle lane’. Subsection 3.2.1 adds ‘If there are only two lanes, the left-hand lane is the one you require, so get out of the other one’.
Let me enlighten you with something that I adamantly believe should be covered in the driving test. In this country (I am referring to the UK) we drive on the LEFT! I wouldn’t normally use bold, caps, underline and an exclamation mark, but apparently there are huge swathes of people with cars who lack the intelligence to understand this simple rule. To those of you in this group, I wish to give some helpful advice. The next time you are in your car, look in front of you and you will see a round wheel-shaped object. This is not the decorative trim that the manufacturers of your car chose to put around the horn button. It is a clever device fitted to enable changing the direction of the car’s travel. If you rotate it slightly anti-clockwise you will notice the car move to the left. Give it a go.
Another improvement that would dramatically aid safe and efficient road use would be the enforced removal of road signs. I don’t mean all road signs. Generally speaking most are quite useful (except those in Cardiff which all point to the M4 or the International Arena and none of which will actually get you to either). I mean the reduce speed/Police accident/Flood signs which remain in place until they eventually rust and get driven into the road surface. This is a primary factor of why people feel obliged to ignore temporary signs, because they usually refer to something that happened two months ago. Imagine how boring a grand prix would be if they forgot to call in the safety car.
So that is why I suggest that everyone should drive like Lewis Hamilton. Not to go in circles at 200mph, but to respect the rules of the road and act upon them or face the penalties. That is how you become king-of-the-road.