Driving is a serious business. We are told this before we even get to touch a steering wheel. ‘A vehicle is a weapon, like a tank but much faster,’ driving instructors have said. We might not be shooting projectiles from our cars as we travel down the lane, but high speeds and on-coming traffic are deadly ‘artillery’, and we are all driving ‘tanks’ of heavy metal.
The road should not be considered a war zone. When we earn our licenses we do not become 00-agents — licensed to kill — but if we are not vigilant that is precisely what can happen. A driver’s responsibility is not something to take lightly.
In some countries, it is illegal to act with ‘road rage’. Rude road behaviour can penalise drivers with stiff monetary fines or even ‘jail time’ if the situation heats up. Patience is tried; tempers flare. Injury can occur, or worse.
In the UK, road rage is not against the law currently, but such behaviour as rude gestures could see us fined. Remember the manners of our mothers or our parochial schools taught us.
Etiquette, manners, or unwritten rules, whatever we call them, they amount to the same thing: good practice. They are all preventatives of bad driving culture.
Let a car in and out. Signal the bus driver to go ahead. These are great alternatives to the stress of getting blue in the face or flipping the bird in frustration. They will help the flow of traffic and pay-it-forward, as it were.
Adhere to the right-of-way rules: pulling in behind when our lane is blocked, and giving priority to uphill traffic. Giving a friendly wave of gratitude.
Allowing one opportunistic queue jumper in and we do our part for society. If another vehicle tries to muscle their way into merging traffic and we have already done our due diligence, stubbornness can emerge from within.
Keeping up with the flow of traffic is an adage which does not mean we can speed if others are. Tsk, tsk on human nature. But it is important to make sure that we are not slowing down traffic.
If we are about to miss our turn and are in the wrong lane, go the long way around. To see something of interest, especially if it is a roadside accident is not a reason to hold up traffic. We mustn’t dawdle or ‘rubberneck’.
Indicate, mate. Indicating properly can help prevent accidents and high blood pressure. We know to indicate with blinkers when turning a corner or exiting a roundabout. But we often signal to other drivers with our headlights, hazards or horn.
Whether our intentions to indicate are kind or not, we should use indicators properly to avoid confusion. Let’s use our hands to signal (positively, of course).
Avoid Ticking-Time Bombs
However we might feel, getting out of our cars at the red light is not a good plan (Stan), nor is trying to run someone off the road to get in front of them. These are very, very bad form and, sadly, real driving examples. Let’s not be lunatics!
Because cars are only a way to get from A to B. We are not in Formula 1. We are not in the war. Remember these things and be good examples for our children in the car, or our neighbours in the next lane.
Remember the Golden Rule in life: treat others as we want to be treated. Courtesy goes a long way to diffusing heated situations. Yes, sometimes, others do not play the game with dignity, but that is not our problem. In the wise words of Taylor Swift “Shuh-shuh-shuh-shake it off”. Of course, Taylor is our cup of tea, but just in case, there is also Idina Menzel’s/Demi Lovato’s “Let it go, let it go”.