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Do we really need to be reminded of the basics of driving?

PUBLISHED: 15:51 12 November 2016 | UPDATED: 17:06 12 November 2016

Traffic can be  chaotic - but use your common sense. Picture: Library

Traffic can be chaotic - but use your common sense. Picture: Library

Copyright: Archant 2016

I'm sure I don't only speak for myself when I say a lot of my driving is based on habit. Not necessarily bad habits, mind you, just little things.

Checking my left mirror before moving back into lane after overtaking a cyclist to see if they’re safely behind me, for instance. Or easing off the accelerator when I come to a busy crossroads when I have right of way, so if somebody pulls out I’ll have a better chance of stopping in time. (Incidentally, this very habit saved myself and my canine cargo from an accident in the work van earlier today, when a fellow motorist failed to give way.) I don’t need to think about these things, I just know to do them.

So imagine my befuddlement when I heard an advert on the radio reminding drivers to brake before a bend, in case a large vehicle is coming the other way and the high hedges obscure your vision. ‘Slowing down’ is a very, very basic concept in the grand scheme of controlling a vehicle. I don’t need to consult my Approved Driving Instructor source to confidently claim it’s actually part of lesson one. Have there really been that many collisions or near-misses due to “not being told to brake at the right time”?

I seem to recall another advert some time ago, informing us that a red ‘X’ above a motorway lane means the lane is closed. Now, Norfolk doesn’t offer up anything in the way of motorways, but even I remember that choice nugget from my Highway Code. Even if in the flurry of traffic my memory abandoned me, I’d like to think I could glean from visual clue alone that the big red cross is warning me to stay away.

Wear your seatbelt. Don’t use your phone. Don’t speed through roadworks and mow down highway workers, for Pete’s sake. Do we really need to be told? A glance at recent statistics says actually, yes, we do. The work on the NDR alone has collared numerous drivers who think limits don’t apply to them.

More than 9,000 people were caught TWICE driving whilst distracted between 2012 and 2015.

With cars becoming more technologically advanced with every model, perhaps we could add a small feature? Just a message that flashes up upon starting the ignition that says “Don’t be a dolt. Now off you go.”

I’ve experienced the changes to Norwich city centre as both a motorist and a pedestrian, and whereas I certainly suffer as the former, as the latter I’m really quite impressed. Perhaps I’m easily pleased, but I think having more space to wander around our historic streets is a blessing. There are many things I don’t miss about a vehicle-centric set-up when on foot, such as the quick dash to the traffic island only to find myself marooned in the middle of the road when the next lane of traffic is relentless.

I’ll admit that since changing vocation from shopping delivery to dog rescuing, I’ve avoided driving around the city as much as I can – the hassle isn’t worth it if I’m not being paid. Buses to and from Marsham are an alternative I tend to lean towards, but the fares are starting to sting and I do like to at least pretend I’m keeping a keen eye on my finances. The Park and Ride is a great alternative, but I need my car to get there – and what good is a sushi blow-out when you have to forego the warm saké?

Maybe my financial eye isn’t that keen after all.

• Becky Rushton is a van driver, dog lover, freelance illustrator and self-confessed Nintendo fangirl. She will be sharing various tales of travelling around beautiful North Norfolk for her job, the joys of rescuing a dog, and perhaps a bit of a video game geek-out along the way.

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