At the moment, my daily drive is on the M1, which has roadworks on it through ’til mid-2022. (Yes, it’s a joy) Throughout those roadworks there’s a speed limit of 50mph, which is monitored by average-speed cameras. And as I’ve been going through them, I come more and more to the conclusion that the average speed stuff isn’t actually all that safe.
More accurately, I don’t think they’re that safe when it comes to British drivers, and the habits that a lot of them have – which don’t appear to be the same as those of drivers in other countries.
The main problem with averaged 50mph limits is that it means everyone is driving at the same speed – cars, vans, HGVs, all at 50mph (or close to it) That means that the British-normal of last-minute lane changes for junctions are nigh-on impossible (although that doesn’t actually stop people from trying it) Instead, you need to be aware of the other lanes, and plan to be ready for the junction far further in advance.
Additionally, British drivers being what they are, turn off their brains completely when in average-speed areas, and will just stick to a particular lane with no regard or understanding of anyone around them, or of moving over into empty space to allow others past. On any given day, it’s terrifying to see just how many drivers are there, zoned out, sat in the outside lane and overtaking two lanes of fuck-all.
All told, it adds up to a whole bundle of unsafe situations at any given time of day. I can see (and have seen) people doing this shit at 6am, at 4pm, at 10pm, and at 2am. It just seems to be the way things are in these situations.
Fun and games, fun and games.
It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.
Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time) That work is going on ’til March 2022.
Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes. That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.
So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.
And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.
Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck. Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.
Every so often, I decide to play the role of “responsible human being”. Today, it turned out, was one of those days.
When I got in to work, I could see that three cars in the vicinity had been broken into (or at least had their windows smashed) so opted to do the ‘responsible human’ thing, and called 101 – the UK Police’s non-emergency number. No point in doing an emergency 999, as no-one else was visible, and the damages could’ve happened any time overnight.
So 101 it was. And while I get that it’s for non-urgent stuff and so on, but man alive, what an absolute faff.
The call goes through, and starts off with “Which police force do you require?”. (Probably because I called on my mobile – calling from a landline would’ve localised things. I assume) That’s fine, if you know who you need to speak to. But if I hadn’t known that Milton Keynes is covered by Thames Valley Police, I’d have been knackered from stage one.
Then we go on to a recorded message from the chief of Thames Valley. Why? No idea. I assume it’s part of the script of 101 – I’ve heard similar on other calls to different forces – but it seems (to me) to be utterly pointless.
And then we get the voice-response asking what you want to do. If you know the name/number you want to speak to, type it now, or press [whatever] to report a crime.
And then we get some piece of crap recorded message about victim support.
And finally, finally, when all that’s done, I finally spoke to someone – who was helpful, and made sense. But what a horrific fucking faff in order to do something I didn’t even need to.
All told, it certainly makes it easy to see why people prefer to call 999, even for non-emergency stuff. At least the response to it is quicker, and gets rid of all that recorded bullshit.
On Friday morning, while it was still dark, I started the car to go to the client office – and one of the headlight bulbs blew.
I’m not a fan of driving with one bulb out, but in this case it was going to have to happen, so off I went, a bit more carefully than usual, as a bigger swathe of the road than usual was in darkness.
On the way home though, I dropped in to one of the local(ish) Halfords, and got a new bulb sorted and fitted. Yeah, in theory I could fit it myself – but seeing the struggle the lad had with getting to it (the space was extremely tight/narrow) I’d have had issues, so it makes sense to get them to do it. (Also, when he opened the packaging for the first bulb and dropped the bulb through the engine block, he just went to get a replacement – that wouldn’t have happened if it’d been me doing it!)
From start to finish, it took less than half an hour – even with the difficulties the lad had. And all for less than £20.
I really don’t get why so many people seem to have problems with getting bulbs replaced. Some people I see in the village have had the same bulb out for weeks, if not months. I understand that sometimes you just get used to the problem existing, rather than fixing it – but at the same time, working headlights are a pretty basic requirement, I’d have said.
And besides, if it’s only £20 all-in to fix it, really, I don’t get the point of not bothering. but maybe I’m missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time, after all.
It’s six and a half weeks since I replaced the Saab with the Kia. And I’ve just gone over the 3,000 miles with it this morning.
Bear in mind, this year I’m doing far far less miles than I usually do (short commute, etc. etc.) and it’s still only taken a month and a half to cover 3,000 miles.
There’ve been a couple of longer runs with it in that time, so I know it’s doing OK, and that everything is – so far – running smoothly with it. And no, I’m not going to curse myself with the Gods of Fate any more than that. So far, I’m happy with the car. It’s nothing glamorous etc., but it is doing its job of getting me from A to B without needing recovery, garage visits and the like.
Anyway, that’s the basic warranty ( three months, or 3k miles) blown away – but of course, it’s still warrantied for another 17,000 miles, so that’s something to be happy about.
At the moment, while my general commute is pretty short, I still see a lot of drivers, cars and idiots. As regular readers know, driving makes me think, so here’s the latest one…
Why do so many people buy unsuitable cars?
For example, what’s the point of buying high-end ‘performance’ cars, if you’re then going to drive them like an arthritic granny? It’s something I see every day, people with high-end hot-hatch and performance cars, lumped in the outside lane, and not even driving at the speed limit, let alone over it. Last night’s was a huge BMW X5 Mpower, pootling along, not making progress and generally just getting in the way.
The same applies with vehicles that are too big for the driver, or that the driver simply can’t handle/drive. When I’m at home and the school run kicks in, there’s any number of chelsea tractors that can’t fit down the road to the school itself – and if they can get down, it becomes an incredible palaver to turn the sodding things round, or park them up.
I just don’t get the point of having vehicles like that – but maybe I’m missing something.
One of the few good things about the way the days are getting shorter right now is that I get to see sunrise, which is always one of my favourite times of day.
This week has had a couple of stunners – Monday was beautiful (if bloody chilly) as I was driving to my current client’s office. As I was on the road, I couldn’t stop to take a photo. But sunrise through mist and clouds, silhouetting trees on the hill-ridge, that was a thing of beauty – and one of the few times I wished I’d got either a dashcam to save the image, or a camera linked to my field of view.
Today I was in my own office as the sun came up, and it was another stunner…
Hell, it even made Milton Keynes look pretty…