Had a long bus ride the other day and took a look at some of the habits of drivers with whom we were sharing the road. Some of the things I saw were truly horrifying. In particular the people you have to call ‘passengers in the driver’s seat’.

Drivers who had left in a bit of a rush, so had brought their meals along with them are a real worry. Watching one guy doing an accidental lane swerve whilst taking the wrapping of his hamburger had me in fear of taking part in a major bus crash.

I shudder to think what would happen if one of these coffee mugs that many so-called drivers cart around on their laps was to get jolted by these snackers behind the wheel.

A lady driver seemed to feel the need to catch up with her paperwork while rushing to the next appointment. Her diary was leaning on the steering wheel for consultation while her car was moving at about 80 km/h.

Many seemed to be perpetually on their mobile phones, sometimes with it jammed between their ear and shoulder at a most cramped angle while they attempt to juggle the steering wheel, blinker lever and gearshift. Obviously relegating the vital business of driving to a position of minor importance.

Then there was the idiot who was on the phone with a street directory on the steering wheel. Probably asking for directions and too stupid to pull off the road while doing so. I wonder if the person on the other end of the phone would be able to testify in the coroners’ court as to the final few moments of their colleague’s life as heard on the phone…

These were the worst cases, others weren’t quite so bad, though they occurred in such large numbers to make me cringe. It intrigues me as to how many people like to drive and have a rest at the same time. An elbow on the door sill and one wrist draped over the steering wheel – in other words driving without either hand on the steering wheel – is common. An arm wrapped around the top of the front passenger seat and the body leaned towards the centre of the car is another popular one, being a particular favourite with the mobile sales reps.

And some teenagers who think it’s cool to drive with the seat reclined so far they can barely reach the steering wheel are on a path to disaster.

There’s only one way to drive a car. With two hands on the steering wheel, two eyes on the road and one hundred per cent of your concentration on the road all around you. Anything else is asking for trouble at best, and for destruction or death at worst.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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