With a population of 1.2 million people, Adelaide is a sleepy little town, usually only ever recognised for its sleepiness or for its supposed myriad murders. But it’s not all wine and body barrels in this sleepy little state, oh no. Adelaide is also host to one of the most thrilling real-life theatres of war, and all you need to participate is to get into a car and try to drive somewhere.
Truly, driving in Adelaide is an exercise in random and primal instinct, akin to surviving on a wild safari with only a Swiss Army knife.
So let’s break down the various events, just to give anyone from outside of Adelaide a vivid picture of what to expect should they ever take leave of their human desire to live and venture out onto Adelaide’s roads.
The late lane changer
Imagine driving pleasantly along in the left lane of a three lane road, giving the car in front of you the requisite two-second gap. Everything seems to be going smoothly and you see a green light ahead at an intersection. So far, so good.
Suddenly the brain’s trust in the car a couple of lanes over to the right has a sudden realisation that they’re in the wrong place, and they want to move.
Unlike a sane person who, after realising that they have made an honest mistake will continue on so that they can do a safe and legal U turn. Instead, the car in the right lane will suddenly swerve to the left, cutting across both lanes and slowing down in front of you, causing you to pin the brake pedal to the floor and give your rear occupants a nice diagonal red line across their torsos.
Perhaps you might be lucky and the other car uses its turn indicator, but probably not. In that driver’s mind, causing other cars in a queue to slow down suddenly is insignificant to the 30 seconds they’ve saved by cutting dangerously across traffic.
A lane is something that is possessed and owned by the Adelaide driver
Merging is a simple thing to do, but to the Adelaide driver you might as well be trying to describe the American electoral process to an Australian, or try to explain the popularity of sarsparilla to a person with taste buds.
Most people understand that if another car is trying to enter a lane, allowing that vehicle in is a minor inconvenience, and requires a slight adjustment of their own vehicle’s speed.
Adelaide drivers, however, understand that the lane in which they’re travelling isn’t merely a conduit through which people travel to reach a destination. Oh no, a lane is something that is possessed and owned by the Adelaide driver. Any attempt to annex any of the lane’s precious, precious real estate must be prevented and blocked with the aggression of a jealous partner.
Signal to change lanes, and the Adelaide driver will immediately accelerate to keep you back in your place; back in the lane that is not theirs. Because Adelaide roads aren’t a thing to be shared, but an arena in which you conquer opponents and vanquish any attempts to usurp any tarmac real estate.
Turn indicators and mirror checks are optional
That indicator stalk that juts out from the steering column isn’t a tool through which the Adelaide driver can inform those around them of their intention. Instead, it’s an unnecessary weight addition to the mass of the car, and is only ever used when it’s accidentally bumped whilst looking for a car park at McDonalds.
When travelling along, you simply must keep your eye on any cars that are around you. Now, this particular rule is what most would consider “Driving for Dummies, Page One”, but I feel this must be reinforced when driving around Adelaide.
When you least expect it, the car in the lane near you will suddenly determine that they belong in the same physical space as your car. They will veer suddenly with nary a sign of their intent, causing you to take immediate evasive action to prevent ending up with a face full of stobey pole.
Ultimate racing line
Adelaide drivers aren’t just humble road users. They are ace racers that need to hunt for apexes and achieve maximum corner exit speed. Those little slip lanes in the middle of the road aren’t there so a vehicle can have a sheltered position away from major traffic so they can wait to turn right. No, they are concrete ridges masquerading as race track ripple strips.
Adelaide drivers will steadfastly refuse to use the sheltered lane for its intended purpose, but will straddle the line between the main road and the slip lane so that they can achieve maximum most awesome cornering power bro.
In the process of performing this, they will effectively slow down the car behind them, and the car behind them, and the car behind them, but screw those guys – if they truly drove “Adelaidic” enough, they’d be in front and not behind.
These are but a few examples of what to expect when you venture out into the apocalyptic wastelands that are Adelaide roads. Of course, if you’re from Adelaide and you’re reading this, be assured that I’m not talking about you. Only about everyone else… probably a Victorian.