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Hedge-blog: Mercedes driver shaving at the wheel - I wasn't impressed, and I didn't buy the company

16th August 2015

I've seen plenty of people messing around with their phones at the traffic lights or while driving along, but this was a new one on me: the driver of a silver compact Mercedes shaving his chin with an electric shaver at the traffic lights.

I was coming back from a bike ride to Swinsty reservoir today. I'd deliberately been out early, to avoid traffic, and it was now about 9am. On a Sunday, there still aren't many cars around. I turned onto Otley Road from Harlow Moor Road, and I saw the silver Mercedes waiting at the lights on Otley Road.

I can do 30mph down the hill there, and more or less keep up with the traffic. There's no need to overtake me, but some drivers can't help themselves. 

By the time the Mercedes left the lights, it had quite a lot of ground to make up on me, and I guess it must have been speeding at about 40mph in what is a 30mph zone in order to catch me at the junction with Pannal Ash Road. It came straight past me by the Coop, where the pavement sticks further out and the road narrows. I was 'interested' to see if the Mercedes driver would take account of that when passing. He half-did, making a last-minute adjustment to his trajectory, to leave just about enough space. It was a poor overtake, but not an awful one.

He had to stop a few metres further on - it's often the way, isn't it? - at the junction with Cold Bath Road. There's an ASZ there, with a bike lane on the left hand side of the road leading into it. I don't always use it, but I thought I would, so I could see who had been doing the driving that I'd just noticed. I nearly fell off my bike when I saw the driver using an electric shaver on his chin.

It must have been annoying to him, but I couldn't stop myself shaking my head at him in disbelief. This prompted him to move forward and lower the passenger window to confront me.

We had a pretty innocuous exchange. There was no swearing and no raised voices. I told him he shouldn't be shaving at the wheel, he should be concentrating on his driving. He said sarcastically, 'I appreciate your concern for my safety.' I told him, 'it's not you I'm worried about, it's me, and other road users.'

I wasn't looking for an argument - in fact, with my mindfulness instructor, I'm working on letting that sort of incident slide. What? Everyone else is doing it. I wasn't filming, so unfortunately, there's no Youtube video to go viral.  

Victor Kiam's actions (that's what I'm calling him) might seem harmless. He's not the only person to treat his car as an extension of his living room, or bathroom. At least he wasn't doing the full badger hair brush and shaving foam. Also in the credit column of his account, he wasn't attempting to pluck his eyebrows, put his contact lenses in, or clip his toenails. No, for Victor, there's a line in the sand, or on the bathroom floor, which he will not cross, not unless he's wearing his bathroom slippers. 

But there is a serious point - occasionally someone who is distracted by their telephone (or, presumably, eating cornflakes, or shaving) will kill or injure another road user. In the private, protected space of our metal boxes, we sometimes think that we're entitled to do whatever we want, and it's nobody else's business, but from time to time, there are consequences. Even though I irritated Victor, I believe there's a chance that he'll think twice about doing it again, and that might save him and a potential victim a lot of trouble.

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