What’s in a name?

I’m sorry, but I have to say it. Suzuki Swifts are the scourge of our nation’s roads. Perhaps put-putting around the suburbs where cars are stopped more than started in the chaotic city traffic they may have a place. But on the highways, they are like road kill and should be swept to one side. Now some of you will drive Suzuki Swifts and I am already your enemy. And why not? They are cute little cars, peppy, and very economical, especially around town. I’ve considered buying one myself. But really, the clue should be in the name. Swift? I’ve come to doubt this.

We now live a considerable distance from the city and drive in a few times a week for work and for social activities. The trip is really not too bad most of the time. There are a few trucks that slow us down on the hilly bits (bring on the Holiday Highway in a couple more years), but they are courteous and keep to the left, even pulling over when they get the opportunity.

But sometimes there are queues that don’t involve trucks, often on but by no means restricted to weekends when the roads are truck free. These are led by cars and their drivers that assume the moral high ground, and when we hit the motorway heading south, they stick steadfastly to the “fast” lane while driving well below the speed limit, requiring drivers who want to even come close to approaching the speed limit to undertake them – that is, pass them on the inside lane.

Sometimes you can follow a line of traffic for quite some distance, as often the driver of the car in the right hand lane likes to drive parallel to the car in the left lane, so no one can get past on either side, and quite a procession forms behind. Eventually as you inch forward and do finally have the opportunity to observe the cause of the hold up, it is almost always, in my experience,  a Suzuki Swift.

Here are two recent scenarios that I have encountered that have led to my despair. I’m headed into town for a show. It’s late on a Saturday morning and I have to pick a friend up across town and get back to the city. I leave in plenty of time. As I head down the motorway around Silverdale, freely flowing traffic in the right lane suddenly grinds to an almost standstill. A car travelling in the right lane is travelling at the same speed as a car in the left lane – quite a slow speed. Now the car in the left lane is perfectly entitled to drive fairly slowly, but the right hand lane needs to be kept free for overtaking. But not this time. We follow this procession all the way to TRISTRAM AVE, gathering many more cars behind us! This is about 15 kilometres in distance. The car in the “fast” lane eventually moves over as it prepares to exit the motorway and as we all finally glide past, sure enough, It’s a Suzuki Swift. I am now late for my pick up.

Last week I went to town mid morning to meet Darling Daughter. I was not in a hurry, so I took it easy on quiet roads through to Warkworth. As you leave the town heading south there is a sign alerting drivers that the speed limit is now 100ks. The trucks up front accelerate and head off, but not us. Oh no. We, as you may have guessed are stuck behind a Suzuki Swift which continues sedately along on State Highway 1 – the main road of New Zealand, at a stately 60kmh. We travel in this funereal procession all the way to the Pohuehue Viaduct where we finally get to pass. By now the trucks are at the top of the viaduct, and we have missed any opportunity to pass them as well. As it’s my turn to pass I glance to my left. There are two women in the car of a certain age (my age really), possibly off to town for a bit of an outing. The driver is talking flat tack, and gesticulating wildly with her hands as she drives at her mediocre pace, blissfuly unaware of the road rage building behind her. I despair and vow never, ever to buy a  Suzuki Swift  as I accelerate away up the hill.

This pattern with Suzuki Swifts is one I started to observe some months back when we started this drive regularly. Some may say good on the Suzuki Swift drivers for being cautious and not being in danger of exceeding the speed limit (fat chance of that). In fact I would attest that these ultra-cautious drivers cause frustration and sometimes risk taking in drivers around them. This is definitely not safer. Look, I have no problem at all with cautious and careful driving. We should all do it. However, I would beg anyone, but particularly it seems, drivers of the Suzuki Swift to please keep to the left when driving on the motorway. And when on the open road, at least keep up with the bloody trucks please. Next time you come across a queue of traffic on a busy road, notice what is leading it. I think you’ll find I am right.  And if I ever express a desire to buy a smaller car and bring home brochures for a Suzuki Swift, please hit me on the head with something hard and give me a good talking to.

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