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Totally Pointless Driving Habits

Low bridge coming! Duck your head and shrink down in your seat behind the wheel, as this really helps your car fit underneath.

Low bridge coming! Duck your head and shrink down in your seat behind the wheel, as this really helps your car fit underneath!

We do some pretty funny things in our cars at times.  I’m not just talking about crazy overtaking, attempting to do fifty things while steering or cutting other people off.  Nor am I talking about the things we do at traffic lights when we forget that our car is not our own little bubble that makes us invisible.  I’m talking about the peculiar habits we have while driving (or being driven) that are completely pointless.

You know the sort of thing I mean.  We’ve all done them.  Things like turning the radio down when we’re looking at the road signs because if it’s quiet, we can see better.  Or if you’re the passenger being driven by someone who likes to put their foot to the floor just a bit too much, you try to stamp on invisible brakes.  Why do we do these things?  Do we even stop to think about them at all?

Here is a small sample of some more pointless in-car behaviour:

  • Ducking your head (whether you’re in the driver’s seat or in the passenger seat) as you approach a tunnel or anything with a clearance warning sign.  Because ducking your head will really make the car fit underneath that low bridge, won’t it?
  • Talking to your car to encourage it to get going on a cold morning.  “Come on, old girl, come one, come on! Get going!”  Or when you’re trying to tow a heavy load up a steep hill and are nearly at the top and don’t really want to change down all the way to second gear.  “You can do it, come on, nearly there, come on, old girl…” It’s a machine, not a dog or a horse.  Even if the car has voice activated this and that, the engine can’t hear you.
  • Shifting your centre of gravity depending on what you are trying to do, as if the car was a bicycle. This includes leaning back when going down a hill, leaning forward when trying to go faster, tilting your body from side to side to help it go around a corner, leaning right back when you want the driver to slow down…  We do this in spite of how we’ve spent oodles of cash on wheel alignments and ensuring that the suspension is just right, to say nothing of picking a vehicle with stability control.  This may be a hangover from when we rode bicycles but still…
  • Closing our eyes during a near miss or when we think a crash is inevitable.  OK, part of this is instinct kicking in to make sure that our vulnerable eyes are safe.  Part of it is an ostrich-like feeling of “I don’t want to look at what’s about to happen,” but it’s utterly insane.
  • Sucking our breath in as we negotiate a tight parking space or a manoeuvre in a tight turn.  This works fine if we’re on foot and trying to squeeze past the shopping trolley in the checkout aisle so we can finish putting the groceries on the conveyor belt and go to pay.  It doesn’t work quite so well when trying to park your big old Land Rover  in a narrow gap between two very new Audis .

Of course, some pointless behaviour is encouraged by car manufacturers.  Why else do they provide “chicken handles” for the passengers?  (I think they’re called “overhead grips” officially, but I’ve never heard this term being used outside an official blurb or description from the makers.)  You should be wearing your seatbelt, and your seatbelt is a lot sturdier than those little screws holding the chicken handle to the interior of the car.  It doesn’t take much to pull one of those off.  In a collision, rollover or similar disaster, hanging onto the chicken handle is not going to do much to protect you.  The G-forces involved are going to rip the handle off or dislocate your shoulder before they stop you flying if they’re all you’re relying on.  So why are they provided in cars?  What is the point of a chicken handle?  (Apart from providing a good place to hang up your best suit so it doesn’t get crumpled, that is.)

So, it’s confession time.  What pointless things do you do?  I’ll admit to stomping on invisible brakes as a passenger, ducking under low bridges and talking to my car (I also talk to other machinery, so I may be slightly insane).  What about you?

Safe and happy driving,



  1. David says:

    My Dad always does a kind of ‘whistley zwooop’ as he squeezes into a parking spot. Seems to help him!

    March 6th, 2015 at 12:57 pm

  2. Billy says:

    Ducking your head as you approach a tunnel or anything with a clearance warning sign may not make the car fit underneath that low bridge, but it just might stop you from getting decapitated.

    March 9th, 2015 at 1:15 pm