Driving along the M4 in South Wales recently during a mini-monsoon that is common to that part of the country, I was struck by the banality and pointlessness of the messages displayed on the over-head matrix signs. You know – the ones that have been erected every 1/2 mile or so at considerable expense by the Highways Agency to help us all drive better and convey meaningful information.
Well this time they all read “Poor Driving Conditions”. No shit Sherlock! The rain was coming in horizontally and visibility was down to about 50 feet. It was all I could do to stop the car from aqua planing into the lorry beside me which was splashing me with several gallons per second (you may insert your own joke here).
Why not use the signs to issue some meaningful instructions such as “Lights On” (you’d be surprised how many don’t) or “Keep to the Left” to the army of middle-lane hoggers out there. This way a tiny fraction of the exorbitant cost may be justified and perhaps an accident or two may be avoided.
Unfortunately, I shouldn’t think that South Wales Police or whoever is in charge of the signs will do anything different and we will continue to be subjected to the ‘state the bleeding obvious’ messages such as “Don’t drink and drive”, “Check your fuel” or my personal favourite during the festive season “Happy Christmas” – just as you’re being pulled over for doing 5mph over the limit on a deserted stretch of motorway.
Another observation on motorway driving habits is that have you noticed how many cars on a Sunday afternoon are driven by the female occupant and not the male? Not that I am a chauvinist in any way (yes you are – wife) but I can only attribute this to the fact that one of the couple (no prizes for guessing which one) had a little too much to drink the previous evening and didn’t want to chance it getting behind the wheel.
As a fellow driver I welcome this selflessness on behalf of the ladies as it makes my trip far more enjoyable and less stressful. A distinct reduction in the number of 3-series Beemers (other makes are available) with their lights on either tailgating or lane-hopping in a desperate attempt to knock-off 30 seconds from their journey (as if it matters?), and a general increase in the level of courtesy afforded other drivers.
So carry on drinking too much on a Saturday night lads – and to the ladies who drive their inebriated partners home, thank you for making the M4 slog more bearable and making me the only road-hog around!