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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Driving on Wintry Roads = Better Driving Sense..?!

A residential road in Grankulla, a town near Helsinki...

Today and yesterday evening we've had a bit of rain, well, some drizzle, here in Doha. It's been interesting driving to and fro work and seeing how the local drivers are either taking full advantage of the slightly less crowded roads by speeding and veering in and out between cars and lanes, or, conversely, driving excessively slow, usually in the middle-lane.

The driving conditions here in the Gulf are almost exclusively hot and dry, but there is some inherent value in driving in conditions that diverge from ones norm. Too often we become buffered, in our hermetically sealed car-cockpits, from both the speed and conditions in which we drive. Difficult driving conditions can awaken our awareness and sense of how fragile, exposed and indubitably impotent we are whilst in a moving car. Driving in challenging conditions, be these rain, snow, ice (black ice), sand or mist, provides us with an opportunity to become more aware of our own, and our vehicles, vulnerabilities, as ignoring them will very likely have dire consequences. It also forces one to drive beyond the usual spatiotemporal paradigm of driving usually practiced here in the Gulf, where ones attention span only reaches perhaps twenty meters and maximum two seconds into the future. Driving in snow, fog or a sand storm forces one to not only to be aware of the immediately adjacent lane and cars, but also to keep an eye out for what is happening further down the road and its vicinity, as well as, based on past experiences, plan ahead ones route, and consequently adjust ones choices and actions accordingly. Driving in demanding circumstances inevitably forces one to apply a form of oscillating range of considerations that provide a more well rounded and comprehensive perspective regarding driving that probably benefit ones more general driving habits.

Driving well at speeds, entails more such aforementioned (empirical) sensitivities than just having a heavy foot. So one can speculate that it's at least partly the Nordic driving conditions that have contributed to the vast number of world champion drivers (both Formula 1 as well as rally) that have originated from this northern tip of Europe.


The approach to a wintry intersection...

A residential street...

Länsiväyla - one of the main motorways connecting Helsinki to the suburbs...

A slip-road between motorways...

Pohjois Esplanaadi - a central (mainly pedestrian) shopping artery in Helsinki...

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