2 Dec 2013

The Curse Of Sunday Drivers

Last weekend the wife and I took a Jaguar XF Sportbrake for a lovely drive over Salisbury Plain.  It's a wonderful place for a leisurely drive.

We stopped for Sunday lunch at a marvellous pub in a village called Shalbourne then carried on up to the A338 where we met a large swarm of yellow cyclists at the junction with the local and main road.

The cyclists ignored our presence and wobbled around all over the place.  I waited until they had passed, presuming they had been cycling very fast so the poor dears must have been worn out and unable to stay in a straight line due to fatigue.

Then we headed on to our ultimate destination in the middle of the Plain.  The roads we took were the A338, A342 and a number of spectacular back roads which I shall not name as they are generally nice and quiet at the moment.

If you haven't driven a modern Jaguar then your opinion of them may be misguided.  The chassis' are sweet, the ride smooth, the engines powerful, the steering oily loveliness and the handling rather superb.

The XF Sportbrake is a simply delightful car for barreling along, especially with your wife (or partner, or whatever) in the passenger seat.   The car's ability to mask the sensation of speed means none of the usual instructions to slow down.

Instead we both enjoyed our drive.  Or rather most of it.  For we encountered several instances of that most horrible denizen of a decent highway.

The Sunday driver.

Clothed in a flat cap or trilby (male) or with a large perm or stern hat (female) and a coat purchased from a small ad in the back pages of the Daily Mail, and driving a Jazz/Corsa/Qashqai/318d/Fiesta, the Sunday driver has a top speed of 40mph - whatever the roads or conditions.

On that day the skies were largely clear and the visibility excellent.  Yet the Sunday drivers continued on their miserable way at 40mph.

So we had to follow them until we came to a spot where overtaking is possible - and there are plenty of them on Salisbury Plain due to the absence of hedges.

The problem is that Sunday drivers also like to drive a good 2 foot from the edge of the road.  You have to move across slightly, whilst indicating, a good distance behind so as not to panic them into slowing down even further.

After a while the Sunday driver will notice you in their mirrors and, if not move over to the road position you and I would normally inhabit, at least move to within 18 inches of the verge.

This gives just about enough room to squeeze past, with your foot firmly planted in the carpet.  Sunday drivers never acknowledge another car's presence.  They merely resume their 2 feet from the verge and carry on at 40mph.

Then we came across one chap in a blue BMW 318d Touring doing 40mph.  The road was almost a mile long and I could see every inch of it ahead of him.  Perfect overtaking conditions.

I edged right so he could see me.  He sharply moved 6 inches towards the verge, maintaining the uniform 18 inches.

I pulled at the steering wheel-mounted paddles in the Jag, slipped down two gears, floored it and passed him at 55mph - leaving plenty of room.

As we passed he was making a rude sign with his hand.  After we passed I could see him making a rude sign with his hand.  Half a mile later I could just about make out, in my rear view mirror, his hand making a rude sign.

That particular Sunday driver in his 318d was a very angry man.  He was angry that I had the temerity to woosh past him nearly at the speed limit and not the regulation 20mph under the speed limit.

Sunday drivers are normally incompetent drivers who happen to be obliviously annoying to the rest of us.  That particular Sunday driver was incompetent, and angry too - a Level Two Sunday Driver.  A Level Three Sunday Driver has a Little Princess On Board sticker in the rear window, or drives a Vauxhall Meriva.

One day I will be old.  But I will never be a Sunday driver, because I have some consideration for other road users.

Article by Matt Hubbard