GREG RAY: Freeway to frustration

SWANSEA MP Garry Edwards has suggested  that slow drivers who hog the right-hand lane on the F3 freeway ought to be booked.

He’s got a fair point, but the slow-coaches shouldn’t be the only F3 transgressors to feel the brunt of the law.

I’ve been up and down the freeway a few times lately, and it’s only served to remind me how much I hate that road. It brings out the worst in many drivers.

Certain roads seem to make the drivers who use them behave in particular ways.

You get the Darby Street crawl. Even before they made it a 40km/h zone, Darby Street was a pain for super-slow progress. Pedestrians darting about (some of them drunk, on weekend nights) and drivers looking in vain for parking spaces.

And the Maitland Road slalom, as drivers weave around those turning either left or right.

There’s the Glebe Road “box-em-in” game, where you have to weigh up the benefits of trying to be nice to people trying to turn left at the lights, against the knowledge that many drivers in the left lane will – if they can – box you in behind people turning right.

To be considerate, you should stick to the right-hand lane at the City Road lights, eastbound, unless turning left, because if you are going straight ahead you will prevent left-hand turners from getting the advantage of the green arrow. 

But if you do that, it’s a race to move left on the other side of the lights before the box-em-in champs race up the inside and trap you.

There’s the King Street pain-in-the-neck, stop-and-start run, late afternoons and early evenings where they have the lights rigged to make you stop at every single last one, from Darby Street to Beaumont Street.

And the 5pm Hunter Street West total clog, that really started to get serious after they closed Hannell Street and forced everybody onto Stewart Avenue.

The Carnley Avenue lottery, where those who know the police often put radar traps near the top of the hill fight with their accelerators to stay on 70km/h.

Meanwhile, those who still think it’s an 80 zone or who are willing to take a risk go blurting past at full tilt. It sometimes takes them a while to realise the bloke standing on the road in the fluoro vest is a highway patrol officer. Bad feeling.

But the F3 is the worst. It’s like a video game where the main aim is to get to the end in one piece, but it’s got a whole heap of games within games that people play for extra points or to relieve their boredom.

“Box-em-in” is really popular, and it’s a reason  so many people hog the right.

 Because no matter how long the turkey behind you has been sitting happily at four car lengths, as soon as a slow vehicle looms ahead, he has to pass you, at just the right speed to box you in and make you brake so that you will be stuck while 25 cars dawdle by.

“Outta my way” is another great F3 game. Every time you pull out to overtake, a turkey (usually with bright driving lights) appears out of nowhere and rides your bumper, letting you know that you are slowing them down.

Meanwhile, the turkey you were overtaking because they were driving at 95km/h, has now sped up to 115km/h, daring you to risk a ticket.

I reckon the answer to most of the nonsense is to put those point-to-point cameras on the freeway – the ones that film you at various stages of your journey.

If you get to the end of the road too quickly that means you were speeding, so you get a ticket in the mail.

And while they’re at it, they could film the slow-coaches in the right-hand lane and send them a letter too.

In the meantime, I’ve started rediscovering the joys of the old Pacific Highway from Brooklyn south which, with all its twists and turns, can be a less stressful alternative than the mad racetrack of the F3.

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