Cut it out!
And here we are again. Another lovely instalment to aid your driving habits...sorry it took so long. If you missed the last one, you can find it here. This time, we're talking about cutting corners.
Cutting corners is something that causes many problems on the roads, but it is often not something that people realise there is a problem with, or are aware that they're even doing.
Put simply, the bad habit I'm discussing here is when drivers are turning right into a side road, from a main road, but cut across into the wrong side of the road (in an attempt to make the turn easier and less sharp).
About now, most people are asking themselves what the problem is. Many drivers (in my experience, the vast majority), do this every day, and it's not something they really plan on doing. This is one of those habits that creeps in when you don't have a driving instructor jabbering in your ear all the time.
So this, “it hasn't caused me a problem, so why change it” attitude comes in (as with most habits), and the cycle repeats. In reality however, just because something bad hasn't happened... yet... doesn't mean that it won't. Here's an example of a scenario. IMAGINATION MAY BE REQUIRED... ok... imagination will totally be required.
Your side? My side.
Firstly imagine we have someone tootling along; for the sake of argument let's call him Bob. Bob is slowing down to give way at a T-junction at the end of the road. He's having a nice drive about, heading to his local supermarket to pick up dinner (for the avoidance of bias I'll not mention any of the main supermarket brands, you can pick). Suddenly, "AGGGHHHHHHHHHHH"... someone is coming towards him on Bob's side of the road, as the car "cuts" into Bob's lane whilst turning into the side road. (I will be very impressed if you screamed in your head. I will be even more impressed if you actually screamed out loud. If you did scream out loud, you have an amazing imagination... although anyone around you is likely to be looking at you, both concerned and confused). Whether you screamed or not is unfortunately irrelevant; we now have a crash waiting to happen to poor Bob, our would-be supermarket shopper.
We are in scenario that is a daily occurrence on our roads - someone coming to the end of a side road, and someone else cutting across the corner as they make their way into the side road. Now, we have drivers of all levels and abilities on our roads, from the timid novice to the overconfident race car driving wannabe. We simply do not know the reactions (or attentiveness) of this driver who is making their way down to the end of their road, but it's now up to them to avoid a collision.
This is usually the first reaction to someone cutting into your side whilst turning, depending on how close you are to the end of the road and how much the oncoming car cuts in. Most of the time, a gentle press on the brake and the oncoming car is now gone, leaving you a bit miffed but ready to get on with the rest of your day. If you're a bit faster, or closer to the end of the road, or the entering car takes quite a significant "chunk" of your side of the road, then we're in almost emergency stop country.
This scenario ultimately occurs because the car turning into the side road turns too early. Whilst not technically illegal in itself, this will one day likely cause a problem for someone (like Bob) coming from the side road. This manoeuvre would usually result in a failed practical driving test, purely for this reason. So here's something I'd like you to ask yourself, if the learner driving practical test is the minimum standard required for a novice driver to drive unaccompanied, shouldn't you strive to be at a higher standard?
At the end of the day, it's all about risk management - do the benefits outweigh the risks? My answer... No. It would take maybe a second (if that) more to turn a little later entering entirely on your side of the road without cutting the corner. This minor change in your driving habits would reduce your risk of a collision in this scenario - avoiding something that, when push comes to shove, would be entirely your fault should you end up in court. No one wants driving without due care and attention on their licence, or worse...
Hope that helps folks! I'd love to hear to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to discuss in the comments section. As usual, if you have any ideas or topics that you would like to see me talk about, get asking.