Sunday, January 1, 2012

Driver behaviour

Spending my working week on the road provides me with lots of things to think about and talk about during my free time.

Personally, I find it akin to 'people watching'.

Every day I'm shocked and appalled at how people drive, its almost as if when people get in their cars they lose all manners and decency. 

If you are walking down your local high street or supermarket, and someone steps in front of you, and then you walk into them, do you apologise or yell at them?

I'm probably not the best 'test subject' for this, at 6"5', but people normally apologise if I accidentally walk into them, and vice-versa. I have asked some more average sized people, and it would seem if two people walk into each other they both reflexively apologise then carry on without giving it another thought.

But for some reason, that all changes in a car.

Think back to being a passenger. Try and recall what happens when someone pulls out in front of a driver. Alarmingly, the common response is a long beep on the horn and a torrent of swearing. 

It always surprises me that doing that is almost taken as socially acceptable JUST because you're in a car and road-rage is so commonplace its almost normal. Just because its commonplace, it doesn't make it right. Just look at chart music. Personally I think its because most people are angry and depressed at some aspects of their life, and their daily commute is the only place they feel safe enough to vent. Not participating in sports or anything doesn't help. They can't yell like that at work - they'll get fired. And they're not going to yell at strangers in the street, because they'll get arrested or beaten up. So all this anger and tension finds its way into driving, which really isn't very safe or clever. If you let emotions take over your driving, you won't be thinking rationally, and your are much more likely to have a crash.

Not to mention you don't know who you are yelling at. Search for 'road rage assault' and 'road rage murder', and you'll be surprised at how many incidents of it turning violent there are. 

The way I see it, is if someone pulls out on front of you, they probably misjudged the gap, or made a mistake, didn't see you or are just so clueless they don't really know what they're doing. Either way, beeping and yelling won't accomplish much.

Its generally accepted amongst ADIs that better drivers are calmer drivers, basically the better your hazard anticipation and defensive driving skills, the less likely you are to come across any 'surprises'. Practice developing your hazard anticipation and defensive driving skills and you'll be be surprised at the results.

Its all learnt behaviour. If you drive aggressively, your children will see that and imitate that in their driver behaviour, your friends will think its acceptable behaviour and the problem will continue. The less people that drive in an aggressive, angry manner, the less socially-acceptable it will become.

So please, drive considerately, and be forgiving of people's mistakes.

James Richards, ADI

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