Opinion > How courtesy affects road safety

Is it me or are people becoming more and more aggressive? We read about more serious road-rage incidents in the newspapers but witness low-level aggression on a regular basis. It's true that the target of road rage may have just done something really stupid, and very much illegal, but my opinion is that a lack of common courtesy is the major culprit.

What happens when someone says 'have a nice day'? You respond with 'you too'. It's impolite to ignore them isn't it? If someone held a door open for you, wouldn't you say 'thank you' as you walked through? Why then is there so little courtesy extended on the road, and so little acknowledgement of it? Do we forget our manners when we get behind the wheel? Do caring, polite people turn into selfish ignorant road users? Perhaps people just don't think – like three women who stopped at the bottom of an escalator in a very busy shopping centre. When I crashed into them, then others behind me, they told us all to watch where we were going! Yeah, like we had a choice! Probably it was one of them who was sitting at a traffic light recently (it had turned green) but was unwilling to move until she'd consulted her street directory. That was not only stupidly selfish, it was dangerous.

How often have you seen one of these:

  • Someone wants to change lanes and the car in the adjoining lane speeds up to block them?
  • Someone wants to join heavy traffic from a service station, or private driveway and car after car makes no room for them?
  • A caravan crawls along with a long, long line of frustrated drivers behind?
  • A caravan pulls over to let people past and no-one says thanks?
  • On a single lane country road, someone at the front of the queue is driving at 90 in a 100 zone. The road widens to provide an extra lane and the front car speeds up to 110, then drops back to 90 when the double lane ends?
  • You're in a long queue where two lanes are merging and some selfish goose drives up the breakdown lane and forces his way in?
  • The car behind has high beam on?
  • The car approaching leaves high beam on?
  • And my pet hate: you're on a motorway on–ramp and can see that there are cars in the left lane, nothing in the right lane, and nobody bothers to change lanes to make room for you to enter?

Here's another thing that irritates me, so I've turned it into a game. For every ten nice things you do on the road, how many times does the other party say thanks?
My scores:

motorcyclists – 8
truckies – 7
car drivers – 1
pedestrians – 5
cyclists – 3

Try it yourself, but please don't let the lack of response upset you.

You really are making the road a safer place by being courteous, so keep it up.