If anybody tells me that they are learning to drive I give them one simple piece of advice, ‘Assume that everybody else on the road is an idiot.’
Simple but true. We’re all idiots when we get behind the wheel of a car/lorry/bus no matter how sensible we think we are. Some of us might be more careful than others but we all have our moments.
I’m going to guide you through the basics of driving etiquette that you may not learn in your lessons so that you don’t become the person everyone is talking about when they say “What is that daft twat doing?”
For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to assume that you are a car driver; we will tackle other forms of transport later.
First things first, we’re going to look at what car you should drive.
What to drive.
You will hear a lot of tired cliches about the car someone chooses. BMW drivers never indicate, Audi drivers love being up your behind and Rover 75 drivers vote UKIP and have one or more bodies buried under the patio. None of these are true except the Rover one.
These cliches are usually used by pub bores and comedians who don’t understand comedy so I’ll try and avoid them.
Not since the days of the Mini Metro, driven exclusively by nuns and the virginal Lady Diana, has one type of car been driven by one type of person.
Admittedly, your average Subaru Impreza driver will have wet dreams featuring Jeremy Clarkson, wear bootcut jeans and have more than a passing interest in dogging but there are always exceptions.
There are a few simple rules to follow. Firstly, buy what you can afford. Not just the crippling monthly payments but insurance, tax, fuel and the cost of repairs should it all go bang. Is it really worth spunking all your money to race a Corsa round Morrison’s car park? Would your money not be better spent on your own place so you could diddle yourself over Top Gear magazines without the risk of your Mam catching you?
Second, buy something you are capable of driving. If you have just passed your test, something sporty with a massive engine is going to spend more time attached to a tree than it will cruising down the seafront.
If you are vertically challenged, a massive car where you can’t see over the dashboard without a booster cushion probably isn’t appropriate. (My seat’s height is electrically adjustable before anyone calls me out on this one.) Conversely, if you could win an audition to the Harlem Globetrotters, a Fiat 500 isn’t for you unless you want to look like Hen Broon in his bubble car.
Third, get a car that suits your needs. If you have a family of four kids, a two seater coupe is no good even if you are approaching a mid life crisis. Ninety-nine percent of my driving is done alone but if I couldn’t fit the lads in my car for our annual weekend away, there’d be no end of twisting and moaning.
Finally, and this contradicts point three, buy the car that you want. I would never consider myself a ‘car person’, they are a means of getting from A to B with the minimum of fuss but some of my mates love them. They could talk for hours about different models engine sizes etc whilst I drift off (ideally not when I am driving).
The amount of times I’ve heard non-car people say “you don’t need a car like that.” So what? I probably don’t need underpants, I could go commando but it’s a little more comfortable with them. (Skid mark comparison joke deleted.)
If you can afford it, can drive it and it doesn’t annoy the hell out of your neighbours with a big bore (it’s called that for a reason) exhaust, crack on and get what you want.
Unless you’ve always wanted a Popemobile, then I’m just going to think you are weird.
In the next blog, we’re going to tackle the minefield that is buying a car.