Guide to Grafton's worst drivers
THERE'S nothing like a reoccurring bad driver encounter to inspire a Top 10 list of bad motorists.
Of course, there are a variety of bad practices that apply across all drivers but Grafton has its own niche offenders that keep cropping up so here are they in all their unapologetic glory:
1. The driver who rips around while you are mid-execution of a single lane reverse park. Unwilling to slow down wait five seconds for you to complete the reverse park, these disturbing drivers choose to accelerate and squeeze past just as the front end of your vehicle is about to enter maximum lane protrusion. This leaves you to anticipate their tomfoolery and hit the brakes to avoid a collision. It's all well and good to say drivers performing a reverse park need to wait until traffic is clear but good luck with that along busy single lane thoroughfares which is all reverse parking. Popular places to watch this combative display is at Grafton Mall opposite the Grafton Library in Pound St and along the Grafton Hotel Fitzroy St strip where a concrete island seems to provide no deterrent to impatient cowboys busting to get past.
2. The driver who refuses to allow cars to merge. Arrogance knows now bounds when it comes to these captains of zero courtesy. There is no particular demographic of offender, just a common trait of self-importance and belligerence. They have mastered the art of looking ahead and ignoring the driver whose lane is ending and despite the presence of broken lines, flashing indicator lights, and the occasional death stare. These right lane dictators will opt to inch forward to claim the victory of one car space. Meanwhile their bastardry has a ricochet effect that turns a seamless zipper into a set of broken teeth. Rockstar performances of this tripe can be observed either side of the Grafton bridge at peak times.
3. The driver who just stops in the middle of the road. There are various reasons for this but mainly it revolves around trying to find something like a park, a person, or the shop they are looking for. While this is practical for them it isn't for the vehicles following. It's common courtesy to indicate so the person behind doesn't think you've gone to sleep at the wheel. Pulling closer to the parked cars and putting on your left hand indicator on is all it takes to announce your intentions publicly. Guessing games using vehicles is a mug's game. The best block to observe this is any single lane areas of Prince Street.
4. Pushing the courtesy boundaries. No-one likes to be held up in traffic jams but it take a special kind of cockiness to perform a manoeuvre that equates to a school bully pushing into the canteen line. Sure they aren't breaking any road rules but neither was Bronwyn Bishop when she took her $30,000 chopper ride. One of the most contentious examples of this is when cars caught up in the Villiers Street bridge approach take the less congested right hand turn lane (rather than the left lane turn to the bridge) to enter the roundabout and then do a U-turn to cut back into the bridge traffic jam ahead of motorists still waiting in the left hand lane. Unless you are an emergency vehicle you are only adding to the congestion rate with your queue jumping entitlement.
5. Roundabout etiquette. Grafton has more roundabouts per capita than anywhere - or it seems that way. So you might think local drivers would be all over that caper. Nah. It's more like a game of Russian roulette than a traffic directing device. Vehicles waiting to enter the roundabout are supposed to giveway to all vehicles already on the roundabout but in Grafton, if approaching vehicles think they have time to rip in without grazing an oncoming bonnet, they will, all the while hoping the person on the roundabout will hit the brakes on their behalf. The next but equally annoying offender are those who don't know how to indicate when leaving a roundabout. Sure you put your blinker on to turn right but you also need to indicate left as you leave it so the oncoming traffic know you are getting off the magic roundabout. This helps with traffic flow people. This rule also applies when you are driving straight on. Use your left indicator to say loudly HEY EVERYONE, I'M LEAVING THE ROUNDABOUT EVEN THOUGH I'M GOING STRAIGHT, SO COME ON IN! It's not rocket science but it seems to be for some drivers. You can see this phenomenon at any roundabout in Grafton large or small.
6. Tailgaters. There's nothing more conducive to slowing down even more than a snarling face in your rear vision mirror, and we're not talking about the kids in the back seat. Seeing the driver's mug behind you clearly when you are already doing the speed limit is too close for comfort on a number of levels. This can be dealt with via a couple of light touches to the brakes to flicker Morse code for 'back off buddy'. You can team this with an annoyingly friendly wave as they rip past you.
7. Fanging it down 50km/h streets. Besides breaking the law it's also extremely dangerous as the idea is that built up areas are full of life -- people, kids and animals -- who may step out onto the road at any given time for a number of reasons. Try switching your brain from testostrone-charged stupidity (it's mostly young blokes) and drive like you've earned that licence to do so. Worse still a lot of this occurs under the gutless cover of darkness where pets that have busted out can pay the ultimate price, lord forbid pedestrians. We know you're excited about your green Ps and tricked-up late 90s Commodore but maybe try to take your penchant for being king of the road out on the Playstation not the neighbourhood.
8. The too cautious driver. On the other end of the cowboy spectrum is the nervous driver who probably should re-evaluate whether they should be out on the roads at all. You will often see them holding up lines of traffic while they work out how to reverse park properly or wait far too long at giveways and at roundabouts. Speed limits are also supposed to be followed in both directions so going 30km/h in a 50km/h zone doesn't mean you get points added to your licence. If you have at least three cars trailing you pull over and let them past. Don't think you are making the roads safer because you are going slower. Frustrating other drivers can have the opposite effect.
9. The oblivious driver. This can range from driver's picking their noses like their car is enclosed in curtains, playing crap music on maximum bass with the windows down, smoking and tossing their butts on the road, or idling in a reverse park to keep their airconditioning going while blowing exhaust fumes all over the people trying to eat lunch in the cafe behind them. If you are that oblivious you shouldn't be in charge of a moving vehicle.
10. Traffic lights. While the future is yet to be determined on this one, given some of the aforementioned buffoonery, the local traffic constabulary might want to stake out the corner of Pound and Clarence streets for the first few weeks to see if drivers can cope with being told when to 'stop' and 'go'. We don't want to add running a red light to the list.
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