Tuesday 22 July 2008

Death by Queenslander

What is it with Queensland drivers once they get south of the Tweed? Are they all stupid, or is that their normal state of mind when north of the border? Compared to being on the road with a Queenslander, I feel safer driving alongside a stolen Commodore full of 14 year old aboriginal kids all high on paint thinners and Ice - even when it is being chased by half the local Constabulary, leaning out the side windows and shooting like the Keystone Cops.

Take this recent example.

I am driving from the Fish Markets at Glebe onto the Anzac Bridge. The road system at that point is an insane spaghetti junction - an easy place to get lost, dazed and confused. Most drivers don't seem to have too much of a problem with it - even Taswegians, who have crossed the pond and are driving around dumbstruck at all the buildings more than two storeys high, and the lack of people with two heads. But not Queenslanders. Show a Queenslander a road that isn't straight, and their brain turns to mush.

So I've got the green light, and I am driving up the on-ramp towards the bridge. I'm driving 2.5 tonnes of 4WD, and I don't accelarate like a dope smoking slug. On my right, there is a road that joins the on-ramp, but it has it's own set of lights, and they are never green at the same time as mine are. In fact they are phased in such a way that it's very, very, very difficult for cars to crash into each other at that point.

Unless one of them is driven by a Queenslander. Then anything is possible.

I see this little Mazda thing approaching up the road from the right. My brain can't compute what is happening at this point - that car should just not be there. The only way it could have got there is if the driver went through two red lights and did an illegal U-turn across a traffic island (I am exagerating only slightly here). Do you know how you react when you drive along a stretch of road hundreds of times, and nothing untoward happens, and then one day, something totally unexpected and illegal happens?

Well, you don't react at all. My brain just failed to do the old, "I'll just move your right foot from the power-pedal to the brake pedal". I just watched in horrid fascination as this 3/4 tonne, rice burning, tin coffin continued to drive up the road from my right, directly into the path of my still accelerating planet killing 4WD.

Then I glimpsed the number plate, and then the brain kicked in. My automatic reaction now when I see a Queenland plate is to brake, swerve and duck for cover. The safest option is usually to pull over, read the newspaper and wait for them to get into the next suburb.

The funny thing is that they seemed to be totally oblivious to the certain death that they had just avoided. Or too stupid to realise the complete catastrophe that they had been the authors of.

Kevin Rudd would have been more accurate if he'd said, "I'm from Queensland, and I'm as thick as two short planks".

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