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turbulentfurball
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2008-02-19, 16:10

At about 8am today, I was driving along the M8 in between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The M8 is the busiest motorway in the country, and at 8am on one of its busiest stretches, the traffic was crawling at under 20MPH as usual.

Just after an on ramp, a black car of some description (I'd guess a VW Passat, a BMW or an Audi A4. Definitely German in any case) swerved off the road onto the hard shoulder. The driver got out of his car and started swearing at the driver of a rather large truck. This lasted no more than a few seconds, before the driver got back in his car, accelerated at speed back onto the main carriageway and forced his way into the fast lane (Which also was crawling). He then went in front of the aforementioned lorry and stopped his car. He got out, stormed up to the truck's driver seat and started attacking the driver. He tried (but failed) to pull him out of the truck to beat him up. He managed to get a few punches in anyway.

That was all that I saw as I tried to drive past. There was no way I was going to get myself involved in that! (Besides, I was in the middle of a 320 mile round trip) The two vehicles had stopped no more than a couple of inches away from each other. It could have been bad had the driver of the truck swerved to avoid the unidentified black car.

I didn't see what happened to cause the 'incident', but the asshole that started beating up the other driver must have been really pissed off. I haven't heard anything on the news about it, but if I do, I guess I'll call the police to tell them what I saw. I know rush hour traffic can be stressful but there was no need for that to happen!
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Windswept
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2008-02-19, 16:16

Wow! You Scots really do have tempers.

What color hair did the attacker have, if I may ask?
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turbulentfurball
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2008-02-19, 16:29

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
Wow! You Scots really do have tempers.

Quote:

What color hair did the attacker have, if I may ask?
Caucasian, around 5'8", somewhat overweight, and dark brown or black hair.

Also, my first thought after it happened was "Wow, this will make a great AN thread".
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Fahrenheit
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2008-02-19, 16:36

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
Wow! You Scots really do have tempers.

What color hair did the attacker have, if I may ask?
If you weren't joking, way to spread your brilliant generalisations.
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alcimedes
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2008-02-19, 16:38

Everyone knows the most dangerous people on the planet are red-headed Scotts who work at a postal office.


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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-02-19, 16:44

"Aye, so ye wanna buy a stamp?"

That's a pretty freaky story, furball.

I see some people get really torqued-up (and no, not me) on the road. You can't tell with people anymore.



There are folks wound so tight that even if you just make a dismissive, "where's your head?" gesture, they'll take it as the biggest offense ever and make a big thing of it.

I usually just keep my hands on the wheel or gear. I'll occasionally do an eyeroll, headshake or let loose with a string of cussing if someone really irks me.

But I'm not about to get into it with some idiot on the road. I've seen enough of those "World's Wackiest A-Hole Drivers Caught on Tape" shows that I don't want any part of some fat redneck with a baseball bat (or worse).



My biggest thing is that I'm constantly in one of two situations (always on a hilly, curvy two-lane road where passing is impossible):

- Behind a total slowpoke (literally someone doing 20mph on a 35-40mph road)
or
- I'll be tailgated by someone on the same type of road (I'm going 40-45, and they're wanting to go 70).



I'll frequently give the two-handed/shoulder shrug "I'm going about as fast as I can, pal...back up off my ass!" gesture in those situations (being tailgated). That's one of my pet peeves, someone riding my bumper (surface street or freeway), especially if a) I'm not in the fast lane and they've got an easy way around me (at that point you're just being an asshole, riding me like that), or b) I'm driving as fast/safe as I can for the road/conditions (always amazes me how many people, on a rainy, yucky day, want to drive faster than everyone around them).

People are idiots, that's the problem. All the ABS, airbags, daytime lights, safety cages, etc. in the world don't address the root problem in all this...people are impatient, arrogant, self-centered, hopped-up oblivitards, by and large. Put those people into 2,000-5,000 hunks of rolling metal (with a cell phone, DVD player, GPS, etc.), and it's just amplified. Until GM comes out with the Asshat Deluxe sedan, which simply sits in the driveway and doesn't go anywhere, that's not gonna change.

Last edited by pscates2.0 : 2008-02-19 at 16:54.
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Xaqtly
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2008-02-19, 16:46

Can I just say that I've driven on the M8 from Edinburgh before?

No I'm sorry there isn't time. Sorry for the off-topic-ism, I just thought it was neat that I've actually been there once. Here's a picture at the England/Scotland border, where I think the M6 turns into A74. I drove all the way from London to Edinburgh in a rental car with a manual transmission, first time driving on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the car. And I didn't hit anybody or anything!

Er... and now, Captain Non Sequitur will exit stage left.

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Windswept
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2008-02-19, 16:48

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farenheit View Post
If you weren't joking, way to spread your brilliant generalisations.
Just... wow.
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turbulentfurball
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2008-02-19, 16:52

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xaqtly View Post
Can I just say that I've driven on the M8 from Edinburgh before?

No I'm sorry there isn't time. Sorry for the off-topic-ism, I just thought it was neat that I've actually been there once. Here's a picture at the England/Scotland border, where I think the M6 turns into A74.
Oddly enough, that's exactly where I was headed; Carlisle, which is at the termini of both the A74 and M6.

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pscates2.0
Mr. Farmiga
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2008-02-19, 16:56

Wow, what a beautiful photo. That's Scotland?

Actually looks a lot like eastern Tennessee (once you're out of the cities...green rolling hills, farmland, mountains in the distance, etc.), except the roads are going the wrong way.
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Xaqtly
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2008-02-19, 17:08

Yeah, the picture is facing North, looking over Scotland. Oh don't get me started, I loved my trip there so much if I start talking about it you won't be able to shut me up. Beautiful country.
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Foj
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2008-02-19, 17:13

I loved Scotland (and England) during my brief trip across the pond. I need to find the pictures I took so I can post them.
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murbot
Mammogram Tech
 
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2008-02-19, 17:26

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farenheit View Post
If you weren't joking, way to spread your brilliant generalisations.
She knows it's true, just like the rest of us do.

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Windswept
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2008-02-19, 17:27

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xaqtly View Post
I drove all the way from London to Edinburgh in a rental car with a manual transmission, first time driving on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the car. And I didn't hit anybody or anything!
First, did you pick up your rental car at the airport? Then, did you leave London right away, or did you actually...eek!... *drive in London* for a few days? Did you pay the congestion fee?

Did they have any automatic-transmission cars available, or did you even bring the subject up?

Had you reserved your rental online ahead of time?

Was there a lot of road construction going on around the airport that provided an "extra challenge" for your first few minutes of driving on the 'other' side of the road, on the 'other' side of the car, and shifting with your...*gulp*... left hand?

I thought Moogs told me he got an automatic-transmission rental car when he was in the UK, but I may be mistaken.

Did you have any close calls (wrt accidents)? Did anyone get angry and flip you off for driving too slowly?

Really, I'm *very* interested in your experience driving a rental car over there. If you'd rather PM me about it, that would be great too.

Thanks in advance, if you can find the time for answering some of my many questions.
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kieran
Tweeting @kierankelly
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
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2008-02-19, 17:56

I thought people with US licenses had to get an automatic in England no matter what because of the shifting issue.

I certainly hope that they wouldn't let people who have never shifted with their left hand while driving on the opposite side of the road get a manual transmission.
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Xaqtly
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2008-02-19, 18:00

Yeah, I picked it up at the airport, I had reserved it way ahead of time. I left London right away, I had planned on picking the car up and driving straight up to Scotland. I don't recall paying any congestion fees.

I didn't specify a transmission, partly because I didn't think to do that, but also because I'm comfortable with driving a manual so it wasn't a big deal. There wasn't any construction that I can recall, and it wasn't too hard to get on the M1 north from Heathrow.

The experience of driving on the other side of the road in the other side of the car with the shifter on my left was definitely something I had to get used to, but it didn't cause me any problems to speak of. Mainly I had to concentrate harder than usual because my brain was telling me I was on the wrong side of the road, even though I was going with the flow of traffic.

Getting used to the shifter was easy, because the gears are in the same configuration as they are in the US - 1st gear in the top left, 2nd in the bottom left, 3rd top middle, etc. And of course the pedals are in the same place too, so the only thing different about it was using my left hand to do it instead of my right, and that was easy to get used to. I will admit to bonking my right hand against my window once when I went for the shifter with my right hand instead of my left.

Staying on the left side of the road took more concentration. On the highway it wasn't too bad because everything was separated, but on smaller two lane roads sometimes I just felt like I was on the wrong side of the road. I just had to focus harder on staying on the correct side sometimes.

I had one incident that wasn't really a close call but it was pretty unnerving for me - I was driving through central Edinburgh and I came upon a large roundabout, and there was a point where my lane merged into another lane while going around the roundabout. I was being ultra cautious and I slowed to let a truck merge in front of me, but he honked at me and waved at me to go, so I did. Not a big deal I guess but I was unfamiliar with the traffic rules there and it was a little harrowing.

Overall it was fine though. Actually I appreciated the way in England at least, people actually stay out of the passing lane on the highway unless they're actually passing somebody. It was nice for a change. Here's a pic taken while I was driving up the M1 towards Scotland, same day I took the previous picture. Mmm... Exige.

EDIT: Kieran, I had never driven a manual in the Uk before but Budget didn't ask if I had, they just gave me the rental. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I knew how to drive stick so I was fine with it.

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thegeriatric
geri to my friends
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Heaven
 
2008-02-19, 18:38

I hired a car in Florida once and had to ask the guy how to adjust the drivers seat. (I was looking for a lever to lift in order to slide the seat) He just came over and said English Huh, and pushed a button and the seat moved by electric motor. Gheesh you people are lazy.

I used to be undecided.....But now I'm not so sure.
No trees were harmed in the sending of this message. However, a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
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Windswept
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2008-02-19, 19:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by kieran23kk View Post
I thought people with US licenses had to get an automatic in England no matter what because of the shifting issue.
I wish that would be true, but apparently it isn't, in view of Xaqtly's experience.

The online-booking process for UK rental cars that I'm familiar with didn't mention anything about automatic-transmissions being available, and there was no place during the booking process to ask a question about that. So you're booking blind, in terms of this hugely important feature.

Well, I was looking in the "C" range of cars, which was the highest price range I was considering. If I had been able to find out for 'sure' that the "D" range provided automatics, I guess I'd have sprung for that, in view of the fact that one's life is at stake, imo.

Quote:
I certainly hope that they wouldn't let people who have never shifted with their left hand while driving on the opposite side of the road get a manual transmission.
I would hope that too. It just seems such an incredible hazard to take already-crowded summer roads and add in the odd foreigner who is unfamiliar with driving the car and the roads. Xaqtly did well, it appears; but I'm speaking of so many others who might not fare so well (like myself ).

Xaqtly, thank you so *very* much for your wonderfully complete answer to everything I asked. I am very grateful for your time and effort.

I was just looking at the first pic you posted, and was wondering where one would pull off the road if they had a flat tire? Is there enough room to change a tire on that grassy verge? It's hard to tell how wide it is.

Also, a question to you Brits, do you guys have anything like AAA over there, where a member can call for assistance to get a tire changed? And if so, do you know whether a foreign visitor could get a membership?

(AAA is the American Automobile Association, and provides emergency assistance to motorists with memberships.)
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zsummers
Avast!
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: New York?
 
2008-02-19, 19:31

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
(AAA is the American Automobile Association, and provides emergency assistance to motorists with memberships.)
... and is the greatest bang-for-your-buck investment you can make. I'm always shocked when I find someone who doesn't have it. It will almost of necessity come in handy, and it will almost always save you money. I love me some AAA.

"How could you falter / when you're the Rock of Gibralter? / I had to get off the boat so I could walk on water. / This ain't no tall order. / This is nothing to me. / Difficult takes a day. / Impossible takes a week."
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Bryson
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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2008-02-19, 19:42

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
I wish that would be true, but apparently it isn't, in view of Xaqtly's experience.
True: The Automatic-only licence is for people who exchange their licence because they've become residents of the UK. You are allowed to drive a manual on a US licence if you're just a visitor. (But if you get into an accident and admit that you had no experience of a manual vehicle, you're likely to have insurance problems.)


Quote:
The online-booking process for UK rental cars that I'm familiar with didn't mention anything about automatic-transmissions being available, and there was no place during the booking process to ask a question about that. So you're booking blind, in terms of this hugely important feature.
Which company are you using? We used to use Enterprise a lot, and they definitely allow you to specify automatic. If the company you're using doesn't allow for it on the website, do call the customer service number and be 100% sure.

Quote:
Well, I was looking in the "C" range of cars, which was the highest price range I was considering. If I had been able to find out for 'sure' that the "D" range provided automatics, I guess I'd have sprung for that, in view of the fact that one's life is at stake, imo.
Enterprise used to do automatics in every class from B upwards.


Quote:
I would hope that too. It just seems such an incredible hazard to take already-crowded summer roads and add in the odd foreigner who is unfamiliar with driving the car and the roads. Xaqtly did well, it appears; but I'm speaking of so many others who might not fare so well (like myself ).
I suspect you'll adapt really quickly. In my experience, North America has a higher number of crazy drivers...but the UK has an antiquated road system - basically it's no worse, just different. My girlfriend (a Canadian) was perfectly fine after a couple of days.

Quote:
Xaqtly, thank you so *very* much for your wonderfully complete answer to everything I asked. I am very grateful for your time and effort.

I was just looking at the first pic you posted, and was wondering where one would pull off the road if they had a flat tire? Is there enough room to change a tire on that grassy verge? It's hard to tell how wide it is.
Many roads will be too narrow for stuff like that - but there are occasional parts where they widen as stopping places. All of the Motorways (Freeways) have a hard shoulder the entire way along.

Quote:
Also, a question to you Brits, do you guys have anything like AAA over there, where a member can call for assistance to get a tire changed? And if so, do you know whether a foreign visitor could get a membership?

(AAA is the American Automobile Association, and provides emergency assistance to motorists with memberships.)
Well, we have the original AA, and the RAC. But you should have breakdown coverage included in your car rental, if it's a reputable company.
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*Joe*
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2008-02-19, 19:45

In answer to Windswept, we have the AA (automobile association) and the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Both of which will attend breakdowns, tyre changes etc... When you rent, the rental agency should give you a contact number for their Roadside Assistance service.
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Windswept
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2008-02-19, 20:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryson View Post
True: The Automatic-only licence is for people who exchange their licence because they've become residents of the UK. You are allowed to drive a manual on a US licence if you're just a visitor. (But if you get into an accident and admit that you had no experience of a manual vehicle, you're likely to have insurance problems.)
Well, I spent years driving a manual, but not for some time. I imagine my shifting skills would perk right up again. But I'd rather get an automatic if I could. However, I think someone mentioned once that there aren't all that many automatic-transmission cars in the UK to begin with. Is that true?

Quote:
Which company are you using? We used to use Enterprise a lot, and they definitely allow you to specify automatic. If the company you're using doesn't allow for it on the website, do call the customer service number and be 100% sure.
I was trying to put together an online vacation package through British Airways, to go along with a great deal on a ticket that they had offered. If you book the rental car and hotels along with booking the ticket, you can get really good deals, according to their promotional claims.

So, it was the car-booking-section on the British Airways vacation planning site, and that's why it didn't offer much in the way of needed information (compared to a purely car rental company site). A shame really, because every American would have this concern about automatic vs. manual cars, I would imagine.

Quote:
Enterprise used to do automatics in every class from B upwards.
Are you speaking of Enterprise in the UK, or in North America?

Quote:
I suspect you'll adapt really quickly. In my experience, North America has a higher number of crazy drivers...but the UK has an antiquated road system - basically it's no worse, just different. My girlfriend (a Canadian) was perfectly fine after a couple of days.
Yeah, but there could be some harrowing moments in those first few days. Well, maybe I *am* expecting the rude and crazy drivers that I encounter here. The thing is, *here* one's reactions have to be lightning quick just to survive around all these wacko drivers. If I had to take a second to think about shifting, I'd be dead around here. So, naturally I'm expecting that there would be rude, impatient drivers over there too, who would hate someone in their way who might be fumbling around, or not knowing how to manage a roundabout.

Having said that, when my husband and I drove through Mexico City, he refused to drive, and handed the job over to me, because I had no fear. BUT... if I changed the direction of the roads, and the side of the car, and to the other hand, hmmm... a lot of change to contend with.

Quote:
Many roads will be too narrow for stuff like that - but there are occasional parts where they widen as stopping places. All of the Motorways (Freeways) have a hard shoulder the entire way along.
I see these movies set in the English countryside, with cars driving fast down these roads that look like one-lane roads (I mean, one lane 'total', not one lane in each direction), with lots of curves and bends, and who knows when a car will be coming from the other direction. But maybe that's just in the movies.

Quote:
Well, we have the original AA, and the RAC. But you should have breakdown coverage included in your car rental, if it's a reputable company.
Oh, okay. I have rented cars here in the States for three weeks at a time, but knew that my AAA would take care of me if problems occurred. (But AAA can give you no help in Mexico. You're just out of luck down there. )

Quote:
Originally Posted by *Joe* View Post
In answer to Windswept, we have the AA (automobile association) and the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) Both of which will attend breakdowns, tyre changes etc... When you rent, the rental agency should give you a contact number for their Roadside Assistance service.
Okay, thank you both. I'll have to do some more homework to check all this out in detail.

Back to road rage:

There was an incident on the news a few weeks back showing a clip of two guys on foot, struggling on a jam-packed freeway. One of the guys was trying to throw himself under a car to commit suicide, and the other was trying to keep him from doing it. I tried to find the clip on youtube, with no success. Does anyone remember seeing that incident?
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RowdyScot
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2008-02-19, 22:17

IRT generalizations, I'm a brown-headed 2nd generation Scottish-American, and I tend to have a hotter temper than most red-headed Scots I've ever met. Most of the red-headed ones I know are sex crazy.

Authentic Nova Scotia bagpipe innards
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veryamusing
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
 
2008-02-19, 23:08

I'm not a second generation Scottish-American, but I'm definitely of Scottish descent. I would *love* to visit, but on a college student's salary... Well, maybe one day.

I *hate* road rage!
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Bryson
Rocket Surgeon
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Whitby
 
2008-02-20, 00:06

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
Well, I spent years driving a manual, but not for some time. I imagine my shifting skills would perk right up again. But I'd rather get an automatic if I could. However, I think someone mentioned once that there aren't all that many automatic-transmission cars in the UK to begin with. Is that true?
They're certainly much less common. Say, maybe 10% of cars are auto. Generally more expensive ones.


Quote:
Are you speaking of Enterprise in the UK, or in North America?
UK. I really like them - good service and nice cars.




Quote:
I see these movies set in the English countryside, with cars driving fast down these roads that look like one-lane roads (I mean, one lane 'total', not one lane in each direction), with lots of curves and bends, and who knows when a car will be coming from the other direction. But maybe that's just in the movies.
Oh, they're real, all right. Try to avoid "B" roads. (All UK roads are numbered. M6, A5, B5209 etc. M roads are motorways. A roads vary from dual carriageways - two lanes in each direction - to single carriageways but are generally in good condition and well signposted. B roads go down from there, and can include single-file roads with sparse crossing places, twisting all over and in poor repair.)
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Xaqtly
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2008-02-20, 13:34

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
Xaqtly, thank you so *very* much for your wonderfully complete answer to everything I asked. I am very grateful for your time and effort.
No problemo, hope it helps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept View Post
I was just looking at the first pic you posted, and was wondering where one would pull off the road if they had a flat tire? Is there enough room to change a tire on that grassy verge? It's hard to tell how wide it is.
I agree with Bryson on this, from what I saw the smaller two lanes don't really have anywhere to pull over... there's a bit of room but not a full shoulder a lot of the time except on the major highways.

And here's another pic I took in St. Andrews.

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