This may sound like a very strange question but I am going to ask it anyway – what is the most dangerous thing you can do with a car (or other motorised vehicle of your choice)???
I can just about guarantee that your answer is going to involve the vehicle being in motion – drive it at people, drive at excessive speed, ram it into a building, use your mobile whilst driving, drink-drive, etc. Or, if you have been paying attention to my blog post on Photophobia, you might suggest driving around with your headlights on full blast at all times (why on Earth do some modern cars have headlights on during daylight hours???), or not driving with any lights on at all.
Whilst I would agree that all the above are dangerous (with varying degrees of danger associated with them – ranging from someone merely feeling unwell to humans and property being permanently deleted from the planet) they all have one thing in common. The vehicle has got someone (at least theoretically) in charge of the steering wheel and the pedals – at least I don’t think driverless cars are a mainstream reality just yet (although, seeing some examples of people piloting – sorry – driving – cars, I seriously wonder sometimes).
You may be surprised to learn that the most dangerous thing you can do with a vehicle is actually to park it. Yes, you did read that correctly – I did say “park it”. Please note – I did not say anything about parking it in a specific place. Even parking it on your own driveway can be dangerous in certain circumstances.
Allow me to attempt to explain.
When you park your vehicle your main concern is whether or not you can exit it without injuring yourself. Once you have managed to extricate yourself from said vehicle you can return to it at a time of your choice (unless it has been stolen or towed away).
Now, unless you have found a way of building KITT from “Knightrider”, you have no way of being in contact with your vehicle the minute you leave it’s vicinity. Nor can it drive off and find somewhere more suitable to park itself if it is blocking a road or a pavement. So – unless you haven’t put it in neutral or “Park” and put the handbrake on properly – it ain’t budging until you (or someone else) move it.
But why is parking more dangerous than driving??? More to the point, why did you say that parking on my own private driveway can be dangerous???
To answer your second question first – how wide is your driveway? Do you have any trees, plant pots, rocks, ornaments, etc, lining it? Has it got a kerbstone-type edging to it? Does it have a drop on either side of it? Or, worst of all, does it have all three??? They can all pose a danger to me in one way or another. And I don’t necessarily have to be heading for your front door either – that nice bushy tree at the corner of your driveway actually obscures my view of your car as you trundle out of your driveway.
That is before I start on Security lighting. Please – if you insist on having security lights at the front of your house – try to make sure they are not focused directly on the road outside your property. Whilst you are at it please check the brightness of them – if me walking across your driveway causes your home to suddenly resemble the King Power Stadium, or Wembley stadium, you may be overdoing the illuminations very slightly (if I am heading for your front door at night I will appreciate some illumination but not to the point where it blinds and disorients me).
Now for your first question.
Apart from all the reasons I mentioned near the start of this blog post – you parking to suit yourself (ie, inconsiderately) can block roads and pavements, sometimes both at the same time.
Apart from possibly blocking access for Emergency Service vehicles – causing possible danger to life – there is another thing you might not have realised.
Imagine you are me for a minute.
You are on a bus which is stationary because the road is blocked due to inconsiderate idiots dumping their cars anywhere they like (there is an event which they don’t want to miss so the section of the Highway Code called “Parking” is completely ignored as a result).
There is a bus behind the one you are on. That one manages to reverse onto the bit of road both buses have just come off. It is dark (as in virtually pitch black). Oh – and the Police have just arrived, with their blue flashing lights on, and parked up almost next to the second bus.
The driver of the second bus tells you and the rest of the passengers to get onto that bus and you will be conveyed to your destination. The second bus is now illuminated by its hazard warning lights – so at least you have some idea of where you are supposed to be going (head for the large motorway sign with the orange lights flashing at all four corners – yes you are certain it is a bus but that is what it looks like from where you are sitting).
Your first puzzle is – what is the height difference between the floor of the bus you are on and the ground? Misjudge that and you could fall off the bus. You are pretty certain there aren’t any traces of a pavement or kerb near the bus (judging by the height of people’s heads as they go past the window).
Good – you have got off the bus and are still upright. Your next puzzle awaits.
Next puzzle is as follows – find doorway and step on to second bus. Finding the bus itself is the easy part. Flashing orange lights are a brilliant guide – it is the blue flashing ones which are causing problems now as they are close enough to blind and disorientate you (as well as obscuring your view of the doorway, door-handle, and floor of the bus). So – when you arrive at the side of the bus near the doorway, you switch your “vision” from your eyes to your hands and feet – and you feel your way onto the bus. Luckily the seating area of the bus is brightly lit.
(Incidentally, just as you get on the bus the driver of the Police car switches the blue flashing lights off.)
Please note – during this incident no other traffic is moving (otherwise you will have to factor that into your calculations as well).
The scenario described above actually happened to me on Saturday evening when I was on a bus back to Leicester (the event in question was a fireworks display in Great Glen).
Walking in the road to get around selfishly parked cars is bad enough when that is all you have to do – having to judge distances, drops, and cope with varying lighting conditions, at the same time, is definitely not my idea of fun.
So – next time you want to park your car – please remember that not everyone has got your sight. If possible try to park in a carpark or park in such a way that the pavement is left for pedestrians and other traffic can use the road. Remember – you pay Vehicle Tax so you can drive on the road – you do not own it!!!