c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-13–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-12–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-11–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-10–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-9–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-8–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-7–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-6–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-5–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-4–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-3–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-2–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-1–>c505218304b50c59c3659f6dda43bae7-links-0–>div>The dreadful toll of young lives on our roads is a scandal that continues to be ignored. ‘Another three young lives lost’, I read in the local paper, beside a report from AXA that says we have the most aggressive drivers in Northern Ireland.
69% of our drivers have been the victims of aggressive tailgating. (It follows that a substantial fraction of complainants have themselves aggressively tailgated!!). I’ve just returned from giving a driving lesson to my last remaining non-driving offspring. Immediately we picked up at our rear a child-faced nincompoop in a 4-Wheel Drive who decided to play cat-and-mouse, grinning widely to his equally youthful companions. (Did you know that these are known as SUVs – short for Sports Utility Vehicles – so that owners can have ‘a little sport’ at other road-users’ expense?)
Boy Racer in his mobile disco decided to haunt our every move but refused to pass when given ample opportunity. You might give early indication of your intended route around that roundabout ahead but he treats it as the action of a Cissy. With a spinning of tyres and roar of exhaust he dodges, quick as a flash, into your lane and disappears temporarily in a cloud of smoke. No doubt he is punching the air in symbolic victory. The really aggressive ones double back for a second bite of the cherry!
Next most aggressive, I find, is the average Newry taxi-driver (Star excepted – they are gentlemen). He thinks his long shifts give him added rights. Somewhere in his misty past he learned one must give way to traffic from the right – nothing more – so he uses his partial right-sided blindness to advantage and bulls his way through every impasse – Toad-of-Toad-Hall fashion – accelerating into roundabouts to intimidate those innocents already using that facility and leaning on his horn to clear his way ahead. That faceless bureaucrat in Craigavon who decided to curse Newry with interminable roundabouts is his greatest ally. The number of unfit taxis on our roads is a disgrace. Once a year when there is a clampdown, there’s not a taxi to be got for love nor money as the internal network is alerted. Nor do the normal rules of the road apply to him. When’s the last time you rounded Sugar Island without a taxi double-parked, obstructing your way, while the driver, hazard-warning lights engaged, awaits his fare who’s awaiting his fish supper in Friar Tucks?
At pub-closing time, Taximan sits on the double-yellow lines, his indicator at last engaged, while the fare downs his last pint. Worse, as you try to sleep, he leans continuously on his horn to summon the tardy fare from the mad ‘party’ across the street. Taxi-drivers do not leave their vehicles to press doorbells.
In Newry & Mourne indicators are for the faint-hearted or for insurance purposes only. AXA also found that 60% of local drivers have had another driver blow their horn at them from annoyance. 59% have similarly had lights flashed aggressively at them and 41% say rude and aggressive gestures have been made at them. 20% have been verbally abused. It is proven that here, in Down and Armagh, drivers are three times more likely to have been physically abused than in the western counties of Tyrone and Fermanagh.
What to do? I learned to show CARE, COURTESY and CONSIDERATION on the road. I still try to practice it. What does AXA recommend?
Give other drivers lots of space: always give early, clear indication of intention; use your horn only when really necessary; avoid angry gestures; never make eye contact with an angry driver. Seek police help against angry or aggressive drivers (now, that’s a laugh!).
Sounds like, you can’t win, so give in! In short, drive less, use public transport or walk. It’s usually safer and often quicker. If this is impossible, remember that certain terms relating to road usage have different meanings in Newry. Before entering Newry, take an anti-sickness tablet to combat that ’roundabout-feeling’. Here is a brief guide to Newry driving conditions.
Footpath = extra parking area
Roundabout = extra passing lanes
Double yellow lines = emergency parking zone
Learner driver = easy meat
Newry bypass = principal City arterial route
Traffic police = post-accident personnel
Red traffic light = amber
Amber traffic light = green
Green Light = caution! Light-jumpers crossing
People-carrier = tank, with bull-bars, to be used so
Saloon car = inferior car, to be treated as such
ROI driver = learner driver, one-lane only (outside)
No Parking = parking
Pedestrian precinct = aggro-drivers’ paradise!
also, all-day free parking
Further suggestions welcome!