Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Do the Irish have the foggiest idea how to use their lights?

Gombeen Man has long been bemused by Irish drivers’ propensity to drive with their foglights switched on. And it’s not just a seasonal thing, you’ll understand, as was Dublin Council’s decision to turn on the city’s festive illuminations three weeks early to encourage careless consumer spending. Foglights stay on all year round in Ireland – the time of the day, the year of the month, or the road conditions have little to do with it.

Why is this? Goodness knows you don’t see it anywhere else, so why do some Irish consider putting on the foglights to be more essential than pulling on a seatbelt? Is it something to do with the 800 years of oppression? Was there once an obscure penal law whereby the poor Irish peasantry were beaten into the ditches by ruthless Redcoats for affixing lamps to their donkeys’ carts? Or if that is too fanciful for you, could it simply be some kind of compensatory measure for them never using their indicators?

Gombeen Man has even quizzed some who indulge in this quintessentially Irish practice. Two popular explanations given were that said lights “looked cool”, or “increased visibility”. Maybe in the latter instance, some could contend that grey or green cars might otherwise blend, chameleon-like,into their respective urban or rural backgrounds. Not entirely convincing though is it?

So, not content with these explanations, GM has thought long and hard about the problem, and come up with his own theory, which is: options-list-one-upmanship. People switch on their foglights to show that they have them, simple as that. And the proof of this is that they now do the same with their xenon headlights.

If you don’t believe this have a look around during the daytime. You’ll notice that Irish motorists are increasingly embracing the Nordic idea of daytime running lights… only in the Irish context it is usually high-intensity xenons. What does Gormley, and his Token Greens in Government, think about that?

Perhaps the Irish are still in the juvenile stage when it comes to motoring? Car ownership increased dramatically in the past decade or so, as we catch up with the rest of Europe, so for many motoring is still a bit of a novelty – you can tell that by the standard of driving.

And sure as shit, if people are going to pay over the odds for their cars, over the odds for their road tax, and over the odds for their options, by God they’re going to use them – whether they need to or not. Hail, rain, sunshine, or snow.

Every weather condition, in fact, with the possible exception of fog.

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Sven said...

Simple explanation, my friend: they use them because nobody stops them from doing so ;-)Gardai in this country are not interested in flowing traffic, in broken headlamps or tail lights, non-usage of indicators or the use of fog lights - it's probably too much hassle for the poor souls, who are out there for our safety (?). And it surely is much more relaxed and less stressful to stand around, stopping cars to stare at tax discs and insurance discs.

Bernd said...

... add my suspicion that many foglights are purchased off-the-shelf at Halfords and installed by spotty boy-racers to jazz up their 98 Nissan Micra (with tinted windows) ... and do illuminate everything but the road in foggy conditions.

But actually I find those rear foglights more annoying - driving behind them on the N3 at Dunshauglin with the Wicklows in clear sight will have your retina out by the time you reach Blanchardstown ...

Another thing - why do builders have to drive their SUVs with hazard beacons going on a normal road. Then again, maybe builders driving SUVs are considering themselves a hazard?


Now, where were those horse tranquilizers again ...

The Gombeen Man said...

Ah yes, guys. I'm with you both 100%!

Bernd said...

Had to dig this up from a defunct blog'o'mine, written in February:

Just Go And Kill Yourself Somewhere Else

I had the dubious pleasure of driving through County Cavan this morning. An exciting combination of winding roads, fog and frost. And, oh yes, some total eejits.

Here are some hints for save driving:

Lights - in foggy conditions it is perfectly acceptable to drive without them. You won't see better with them anyway. And if you drive a silver-grey car this will also keep you safe from those redcoat snipers waiting for an unsuspecting Irish fella to kill.

Rear Foglights - they are for blinding people in perfect driving conditions, in fog they might be confused with a burning bush. If you are no Presbyterian, keep them switched off.

Speed - if you can’t see any obstacles for the next 500 yards in front of you it is okay to go twenty miles above the speed limit. Never mind that you cannot see further than twenty yards due to fog.

Overtaking - absolutely safe in fog, you'll see any oncoming cars before they crash into you. Even a split second before you perish is still "before".

Keeping to the Left - it is advisable to drive in the middle of the road in foggy and frosty conditions, you’ll have more room to the left then. To veer into when trying to avoid the bleeding eejit coming against you in the middle of the bleeding road.

Braking - yes, definitely hit your brakes before every corner to test the road conditions. And then speed out of it like a bat out of hell. Ice is only dangerous in curves, we all know that.

Keeping your Distance - around twenty inches from the bumper of the car in front of you is plenty. He'll make shure to be shure to extend the distance to a safe margin before he brakes or slams into something.

Windscreens - do not bother to clean them, defrost them, scratch the ice off them or keep them from fogging up. A thin veneer of ice will keep you aware of the freezing conditions and demisting is needless if there is fog outside anyway.

Parking - as far as possible into the road, otherwise drivers might miss your car.

Mobile Phones - tell your colleagues you are late, by all means, they won’t have copped on to the idea if they were expecting you at 9 AM and it is now past 10. And never mind about stopping while using the phone, the guards won’t notice in the fog anyway.

Death - just make sure to take your last breath in a tangled wreck where I am not near you. I have been known to utter choice comments while trying to resuscitate drivers like you. You might not want to hear those while you are floating towards that white light where all pain ends.

The Gombeen Man said...

Excellent! That just about sums it up!

Lew said...

omg I'm laughing so much, goth your blog Gombeen Man and what Bernd said are absolute classics
I couldn't agree more, there is nothing that pisses me off more than idiots using fog lights when not needed.
Fromt fog lights do nothing anyway (not even in fog I've found) although rear ones are good in fog, but a killer in the rain which seems to be when a lot of people use them
by the way it's not just the Irish that do it, I live in Manchester and all over the uk now having front fog lights on makes your car look "cool" NOT!

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Lew. How are things in Manchester? So,the foglight scourge is not just here, then. I'll be watching Corrie tomorrow to see if David Platt has his switched on! I'd say he's a likely candidate. ;-)

Lew said...

lol You dont watch that do you?
I have to admit I like it also, and sadly emmerdale!
The annoying thing about Corrie is the studio's are only up the road a bit but the dont let visitors in any more, or do tours. They are losing out on so much potential money.
And the foglight scourge- it just peally peevs me off when I see all the t@ssers driving around with them on Thinking it looks "cool" when it just looks stupid to me, the annoying thing is it's illegal but you never see anyone getting stopped for it, same as having blue or green sidelights!
I could bet any money that if I tried any of those I'd get pulled straight away.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes Lew, I'm an awful saddo, I'm afraid! I think Corrie's a good programme, and funny too... some great characters in it.

Looks like they are losing out by not letting people on the cobbles anymore - you'd imagine it would be a real money spinner for them.

I know you you mean about getting pulled for minor road indescretions. That would be just my luck too... Mind you, here's a man who once overtook an unmarked police car! Doh!

Lew said...

that's nothing, in my younger days, I used to drive around with no licence tax or insurance (before the insurance disc in the windscreen days) and got stopped once in god knows how many years, I got sent to court over it but the guard never turned up, it was postponed another 3 times and in the end the judge threw the case out, as soon as I walked out of the courtroom another guard said " I saw you driving this morning produce ... blah blah" but he got had because in the meantime I had got all the right insurance and doc's! He wasn't happy and I got stopped SO many times after that.
Once my mother was with me, I got out of the car to go into the post office with her and this unmarked car with 2 detectives pulled in front of me, called us over and asked all about why we were there, where we were going etc, and then the usual "produce etc" it scared the cr@p out of her because he made a point of holding his machine gun while he was talking.
In the end, I went into the guarda barracks in the main town in the county produced all the docs, the guy behind the desk looked at them, asked who told me to produce the, I said "nobody" he said what are you doing here, get out.
I told him I'm sick of being stopped for no reason and insisted he wrote all the details down, then I made him get the inspector and got him to look in the bood and see htem, then told hiim to pass the word round that if I got stopped again, i'd be making a formal complaint and tacking actioon over being harassed.
Never got stopped again, and eventually moved over here.

The Gombeen Man said...

Well, I remember how expensive tax and insurance was in Ireland... so I can see why people took their chances.

I had a Vespa 125 (bored out to a 180) back then and it cost a fortune to insure for third party. Think it was about £350 - and this is in the '80s!!!

When I went to London I bought a Kawasaki GT750, for half the price they were here, and my insurance was cheaper, with third party, fire and theft cover. I'm more breakable now, so use four wheels, but motoring is so much more expensive here, with VRT.

Jesus, I can see why you got out of the place, getting that kind of hassle. Terrible.

Ella said...

Hi there, I had a Vespa 200 before I left home sweet home for dear old Blighty in 1986. The cost of the insurance for one year in 1985. £503, as you say Gombeen Man only third party was available at that time (perhaps it has now changed). Being 19 with a full licence was no excuse for those extortionate charges. £503 was an astronomical amount of money 23 years ago, so it was no wonder that one in four drivers didn't bother with insurance.

The Gombeen Man said...

503 Euro... no wonder we were all emigrating!!!