Friday, August 26, 2005

Driving defensively

I've been easing back into driving here in Singapore. Aside from driving on the left side (which isn't that hard really) I have the added anxiety of driving in high traffic. I've been driving for two months in rural Minnesota. There are places where you could lay on the highway for hours without getting hit. People on every side make me edgy.

I've had a few, well, let's call them "mishaps" rather than "things that could have warranted a fine" since I got back. First of all, I'm a pretty nervous driver. My friends and family, if pressed, would probably say that they don't enjoy driving with me cause I act like everyone out there is going to pull an idiot move and hit me. It's called being defensive. One step short of totally paranoid. In contrast, my husband Erik makes me nervous with his overconfident driving. We've developed a signal - if he's ever driving too close to someone or something else that makes me feel an accident is imminent, I go limp. You know, because if you're relaxed in an accident you're less likely to get hurt.

Anyway, earlier in the week I was so concerned about making sure I was going to be in the correct lane at the next stoplight that I blew through the crosswalk stoplight right in front of me. Fortunately, the woman had only started to cross and was nowhere near my car yet. Immediately after that I was almost sideswiped by a taxi and then a truck who both thought it necessary to enter my lane with great haste. So all that really upped my white knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

Today I drove to the grocery store and noticed that the car park there doesn't bother me nearly as much as it used to. Then I found a rare parking spot near the market and I started thinking, "See, this driving thing isn't so bad. I'm getting the hang of it again!" And as I left the market, I turned the wrong way down a one way street.

I noticed my mistake right away and thought, "Maybe I can just back up onto the street again." Sure enough, someone had pulled up but in the right lane instead of the left so I could correct my mistake. But wait, were those lights on that car? Brilliant! I had managed to pull my idiotic move right in front of a police officer. I started praying, "Please don't pull me over. Please just . . . wait. Are they laughing? They are kind of laughing. Not outright laughing, but definitely smiling. I think they're going to ignore me!" It felt like I'd done some kind of Jedi mind trick, "Drive away. Forget about the stupid foreign woman who turned the wrong way." So much for my driving finesse.


Gina Marie said...

Actually, today I felt pretty good driving, except when a bus tried to pull into my lane. That annoyed me, but it didn't freak me out like it usually does. I think I'm getting better.

The thing about Singapore roads though is that usually there are three lanes, and the only one always going straight is the middle. You don't want to get stuck behind a bunch of people turning.

Duck Hunter said...

I feel that I am becoming more of a defensive driver. I find I'm always trying to predict what people will do. In front of me, behind me, people turning onto the road. At the same time I'm learning that people are unpredictable.

My wife is a bit more of an aggressive driver. Brake late, follow close. I don't enjoy it.