10 Things That Drive Me to Insanity On the Road

Here’s a list of what makes me put on my cranky pants in traffic:

1. Drivers who don’t indicate:

I’ve often wondered if Volvos actually have indicators at all or whether their drivers are simply so confident in the safety of their cars that they don’t care either way about preventing collisions.  Until cars allow us to read the minds of other drivers, all we have is that little lever on the right (or left in Euro cars) to help communicate the fact that we want to turn…USE IT!!!

Note: I actually know some very nice Volvo drivers, so please don’t slap me with your driving gloves!

2. Bullies who won’t let you merge

They can be seen in your rear view mirror smirking while you’re using hand gestures to plead with them to let you merge.  These drivers, often in larger vehicles, are the bullies of the road and have real issues that can only be fixed with a good slapping.  The best you can do is hope Karma will catch up with them later and pray that the driver behind him is more generous.

3.  Parents who smoke in cars with child passengers

These people are clearly so self-centred they couldn’t even give a toss about their own young.  Even though laws have been introduced against smoking in cars with children, these drivers ignore them to satisfy their own selfish habit and are happy to tell the world, and their children, to go to hell.

4. Lunatics who speed in 40K School Zones

Everyone else has slowed to 40K but these idiots decide to speed on, weaving in and out of lanes, risking the lives of children, only to be joined by the rest of us at the next set of lights.  Slap, slap, slap!!

5.  Doof Doof Drivers

Have you ever been waiting at the lights and felt your car jumping and windows vibrating because the P-Plater next to you is aiming to get industrial deafness?  He doesn’t need a slapping cause he’ll be wearing hearing aids to his 21st birthday party, that’s punishment enough.

6. Swirvers

These drivers are all over the shop, running over lines, narrowly missing other cars.  It’s clear that they are either drunk, high or using hand-held mobile phones.  Funnily enough, a lot of these drivers also display P-Plates.

7. Parked Drivers who Don’t look before opening their car doors into traffic

Our necks are amazing things – they allows us to move our heads from left to right.  Seriously, how much effort does it take to look before swinging your car door wide open into traffic?

8. Parents who stick prams into traffic while waiting to cross the road

Pedestrians are not exempt from my wrath.  Yes, you may be a safe distance away watching traffic while waiting to cross a busy street – BUT YOUR CHILD’S PRAM IS ON THE ROAD!

9. Smokey cars

Quick, close your windows and turn your air con to recycle – it’s another defective car spilling its guts all over the place.

10. They’re never around when you need them

My top peeve is that there’s not enough Police around to book all the above!  How satisfying is it though, when you do actually get to see an idiot getting pulled over!!  – Karma’s a bitch.

Great Wall Motors X240 SUV

I’m sitting here at the launch of the new X240 SUV the latest addition to the Chinese brand Great Wall Motors who have only been in Australia since June this year.

Great Wall Motors launched with only a range of Utes, V240 and SA220, which have done very well, and are expanding in style into the passenger market with the new SUV X240.

I’ll elaborate more on features later but just wanted to give you a glimpse at what you can get for $23,990!

When Rebellion Drives Bad Habits

In a previous post, The Turning Circle of Life, I mentioned the arguments I had with my dad many moons ago when he was teaching me to drive.  One of those arguments was about putting the car into gear when parking.  I was a rebellious teenager, and many of my rebellions were pointless and senseless, but I was also stubborn.  I persisted with parking the car in neutral and it finally became a habit lasting many years until one day in 2001…

I was married, had a lovely little house on a hill overlooking a reserve and had just had my third child.  I was on my usual afternoon taxi run picking up my young son from soccer training and my little girl from dance class with my newborn strapped in her capsule in the backseat.

It was winter,  the sun had set early and it was very cold and dark.  My husband was waiting for me to arrive so he could go to his evening job and I was running a little late so I parked the car at the top of our steep driveway, told the older kids to go inside and took the capsule out of the car.  I left the car running for my husband and went inside.

“Where did you park the car?” asked hubby from the front door. “Right in front of you.” I replied.  He came inside and said “Well, it’s not there!”

I ran outside and couldn’t see the car anywhere.  I panicked and immediately thought the car had been stolen and called the police to report it.

While we waited for the police to arrive, we got a knock on our front door.  It was a gentleman who had been driving down our street when he saw a car roll out of our driveway and into the Reserve across the road.  I started to feel sick.

We ran across the road into the pure darkness. The reserve was very big and had a dam in the centre.  My husband grabbed a torch and headed down to the dam expecting to find our Sonata in the water.  Just as he found the car stuck in the reeds, the police turned up.

My husband had taken over from my father in hassling me about parking in neutral and he was more than happy to watch the Officer lecture me on how dangerous the situation could have been.   I stood there with a red face, nodding and feeling very stupid.

I was extremely lucky.  So much could have gone wrong, the car could have rolled into another on the road, it could have killed someone walking their dog in the reserve.  I got off lightly with a few minor scratches on the Sonata and a lecture from a smirking policeman.

So, What is The Moral of this Humiliating Story?

Keeping a bad habit to spite others can really come back to bite you on the butt!

Not a Parking Spot – iPhone App review

Picture yourself driving around for what seems like hours at the local shopping centre car park..at Christmas time..in 38 degree heat. You finally see a glimpse of what looks like a parking spot.  Your heart skips a beat and you almost run over shoppers in your rush to get there, only to discover some idiot next to it has parked halfway into the spot rendering it useless  for anything except maybe a discarded shopping trolley.

Now there is an iPhone App that can turn your frown upside down in this situation.  Don’t take your anger out on the kids, simply grab your iPhone, take a pic of the imbecilic parking effort and upload to Not a Parking Spot for the world to see. Mwahahahaha!

Maybe you aren’t as vindictive as I am, but still like to have a laugh at another’s expense.  Then the Not a Parking Spot gallery is for you with funny pictures and accompanying comments of dreadful and down-right incredible parking attempts (or non-attempts).

Not a Parking Spot iPhone App

Not a Parking Spot iPhone App can help alleviate road rage and possibly bring about world peace!

Created by Shiftedfrequency, this app is available to download free from the App Store, takes up 0.9MB and provides a cheap giggle and the sweetness of revenge. 

You can also visit the site www.notaparkingspot.com  and use the #notaparkingspot hashtag when posting dreadful parking pics on Twitter. It’s a revolution!!

Note: You may want to remove the rego number just in case – yes, I’ve gone soft…

The Turning Circle of Life

We really do take driving our cars for granted.  We have fleeting moments of appreciation, like when our car is out of action for one reason or another,  but it is never greater than when you are either at the beginning of your driving life or at the end.

My son is fifteen and like many teenagers, counting down the days until he can get his Learner’s Permit while his grandfather, my dad, is counting down the days until he can no longer drive because of his illness.

My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about seven years ago.  He lives alone and is a fiercely independent man who loves and is loved dearly by his family.  Dad lives in the next suburb so we visit each other almost daily.  However, lately it has been us visiting him as he becomes less mobile.

My dad was enjoying life traveling the world, climbing mountains and trekking.  He was in great health, especially for a 60 year old man, when he started experiencing stiffness in his muscles and dizzy spells.  For a year, he dealt with the symptoms taking  anti-inflammatories and going to physiotherapy.  Eventually, after many doctors and tests, he was told he had Parkinson’s Disease.  My sister and I didn’t know how to take the news. He seemed fine and his hands only shook as much as someone who had drunk too much coffee.  It was hard to imagine our fit, strong dad deteriorating to the advanced state of Mohammed Ali or Michael J Fox.

Seven years later and my dad has managed his Parkinson’s better than a lot of other sufferers with his healthy lifestyle and extreme determination and stubbornness.   Recently though, the expression of pain has completely taken over the brave face and his shaking has become much worse.  He jokes about it all the time, especially in front of my children but it’s getting harder for him to smile.  He doesn’t like to talk about it, but lately he has been talking about the fact that he won’t be able to drive anymore.

About a year ago he stopped driving long distances and has only been driving locally to my house or the shops.  Now he’s realising it’s becoming dangerous as well as painful and he probably won’t be cleared to drive by his neurologist on his next visit.

I really don’t know anyone who enjoys their independence and freedom as much as my dad does.  As kids we never got the chance to watch TV on weekends because he was always packing us into the car for drives.  “Where are we going now?” we’d ask.  He always responded with “I have no idea, we’ll find out when we get there.”

Even now with my kids at home on school holidays he’ll phone them and say “Put your shoes on, I’ll be picking you up in a few minutes”.  The kids bolt for their shoes and wait on the front step to go on one of Poppy’s adventures.

As my son starts talking about learning to drive, I can’t help but think of the days when my dad taught me to drive.  We laugh now, but we had some mighty yelling matches in empty supermarket car parks but he taught me skills that have stayed with me every day since.

I find myself in the middle, watching my children on the brink of adulthood, gaining independence, needing me less and finding their place in the world. My parents on the other hand are losing their independence, relying  on me more often but they quietly know their place in the world.

So, next time you see an elderly person driving slowly in front of you, or even a Learner, don’t be so quick to go for the horn. Think about where they are in the turning circle of life and acknowledge the fact that you were once at the beginning and will one day be at the end.

Useful Links:

The RTA have a 4 page PDF brochure – Worried about the driving ability of an older driver

The RTA also has a website exclusively for younger drivers with all the information they need to get them on the road www.geared.com.au

Wow! Posting from my iPhone

Downloaded the iPhone app for WordPress and having a play – gotta love WordPress!

Here’s a photo of the new HSV E2 Clubsport for your viewing pleasure 🙂

Cruze-ing in the new Holden Cruze CD Diesel and CDX Petrol

Cruising in the new Holden Cruze - CDX Petrol auto shown

Cruising in the new Holden Cruze - CDX Petrol auto shown

Who would drive the new Holden Cruze?

The new Holden Cruze appeals to a range of people from ’empty nesters’ to first-car owners because of the affordable price tag.

The Cruze is particularly ideal for women who do a lot of city driving because of the practical size, fuel efficiency and stylish, good looks.

First impressions

The Cruze has the distinctly solid, yet sleek, Holden front and modern lines, which flow back to a nicely compact boot. It’s no wonder the Cruze has become a popular choice in the small-to-mid-size car range.

The interior is equally impressive with the contoured cloth sports seats in the front of the CD and heated leather seats in the CDX, chrome trim, and ice-blue illumination on the instrumentation against the dark tones (gives it a very sporty feel).

My favourite features

Quite a bit of thought has gone into the Cruze design by Holden and offers practical features such as:

* “Follow Me Home” illumination, which allows you to program your headlights to stay on for up to 3 minutes after you leave the car. That’s just enough time to let you open your front door at night and get safely inside. Very clever!

* The 400 litre-boot belies its compact exterior and has remote keyless entry, which is a big help when your hands are full.

* The multi-function steering wheel gives you the convenience of controlling the audio system and cruise control without taking your eyes off the road.

* MP3 Plug and Play functionality allows you have all the music you want to hear on your iPod played on the car audio system.

* Automatically locking doors provide added personal safety on the road.

* Reverse Park sensors in the CDX

* Have I already mentioned the heated leather seats in the CDX???

CDX Cruze auto interior - heated leather seats, chrome trim on dash and intrumentation cluster

CDX Cruze auto interior - heated leather seats, chrome trim on dash and intrumentation cluster

The Drive

The CD Diesel manual encountered some turbo lag on the lower gears but quickly gained power, particularly on the open road. The chug of the 2.0-litre diesel engine could barely be heard in the cabin, which offered a smooth, quiet ride.

The front seats were snug, comfortable and supportive and the manual transmission offered nice, smooth gear changes.

Although designed for safety, I found the Cruze CD compromised somewhat on visibility and could have used rear-park sensors, which come standard in the Holden Cruze CDX model.

The automatic transmission seemed to take a considerable amount of power from the CDX Petrol. The manual was lovely to drive with smooth gear changes, however still lacked the power of the diesel.

Both cars felt solid on bumpy roads and hugged curves and corners nicely. Maneuverability was exceptional for parking in tight spaces and city driving.

Fuel economy

Fuel economy is a big selling feature of the Holden Cruze with the CD Diesel using around 5.7 litres of fuel per 100km. The petrol model uses slightly more at 7 litres per 100km but still travels more efficiently and cheaper than other 4-cylinder cars.

Safety features

The Holden Cruze proudly boasts a 5-star ANCAP rating, which is the highest rating possible. All the essential, evasive safety acronyms are offered including ESC (Electronic Stability Control), 4-wheel disk brakes with ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System), Traction Control (TCS), Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).

Should you be involved in an accident, there are 6 airbags: front driver and passenger; dual-front-side; and dual-side curtain. The high-strength construction of the body includes front and rear crumple zones and reinforced single welded unit passenger safety cell.

Room for business and pleasure

The Holden Cruze is a comfortable ride for 5 people with reasonable leg- and head-room for front and rear passengers. There’s also ample space in the 400-litre boot for sports equipment, groceries and school bags.

60/40 split fold rear seats allow more space for larger items or holiday luggage. Handy storage compartments include the sunglasses holder in the front and front seatback pockets. There are 4 cupholders – 2 adjustable ones in the front centre console and 2 in the rear centre armrest – plus 4 bottle holders in each door pocket.

How ‘Green’ is the Holden Cruze?

CD Diesel (manual)

Overall rating:                                    3.5/5 stars
Fuel consumption – combined:   5.7 litres/100km
CO2 emissions:                                   149g/km
Air pollution rating:                         5/10 (10 being the best)
Greenhouse rating:                           7.5/10 (10 being the best)

CDX Petrol (manual)

Overall rating:                                    3.5/5 stars
Fuel consumption – combined:   7.0 litres/100km
CO2 emissions:                                   166g/km
Air pollution rating:                         7/10 (10 being the best)
Greenhouse rating:                           6.5/10 (10 being the best)

Rating from www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au

Other things you should know

The Holden Cruze comes in 2 models – CD and CDX, which both look great in the each of the 8 colours offered. Think: Arctic White, Chilli Red, Carbon Flash Black, Mercury Silver, Iced Blue, Moroccan Blue, Light Gold, and Pewter Grey.

The CD and CDX model both offer the 4-cylinder, 1.8-litre ECOTEC engine; while the CD model offers a 2-litre Turbo Diesel option.

The price ranges from $23,990 for a Cruze CD Petrol manual to $28,990 for the CDX Petrol Auto. Metallic paint is extra.

The latest news to come from Holden is that they are introducing a diesel variant to the CDX in 2010.  That would definitely be my Cruze of choice.  The luxurious CDX interior combined with the power of diesel, in a manual of course!