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When driving courtesy goes out of the window

publication date: Nov 11, 2013
author/source: David Miles

By David Miles


Apart from our fast deteriorating road surfaces and the increase in traffic both on major motorways, A roads and the ever increasing volume of traffic using rat-run B roads, the most alarming aspect of today’s motoring habits are bad manners and inconsiderate selfishness by drivers to other road users.

Lorry drivers hold particular responsibilities, some dont

It’s not all drivers of course, what about the health-kick cyclists who pay no road tax, have no insurance but put themselves and motorists in danger by their selfish riding attitudes.

With the amount of miles I travel to and from airports or UK press launch venues the changes in how we conduct ourselves have become very noticeable in the last few years. An increase in traffic volumes, less Policing and more overseas drivers have added to the problem. 

Some of the bad behaviour can be put down to frustration due to traffic chaos but most of it I suspect just boils down to a change for the worst in our poor attitude to one another.

The recent survey issued by Dayinsure in time for National Road Safety Week in November has prompted my rant on this subject.

Their survey found when it comes to distractions, 55% of respondents have used a mobile phone while driving, 58% admit taking photographs, 46% have checked emails and 21% have updated Facebook. 

Over half of respondents admitted to speeding and 71% said they eat while behind the wheel. With 32% admitting to driving in flip-flops, these are clear indicators that many drivers take unnecessary risks out on the road.

Since the introduction of mobile phones access to emails and social media are a tempting distraction whilst driving, especially if you are stuck in traffic. Not only is using a hand-held phone at the wheel dangerous it is also illegal. 

From my observations the biggest culprits are commercial vehicle drivers but then it is quite common in my part of the world to see a female driving a large 4x4 on the phone no doubt arranging their social life for the day after dropping of the children at school.  Perhaps this will be seen as a harsh and sexist statement, but where I live – it’s true.  

Large agricultural vehicles and poor driving are hazardous

To redress the balance of the sexes it is equally annoying in the country to have to cope with larger and larger farm machinery, tractors too wide for roads through villages, where farm hands just drive their machines over the verges fronting resident’s houses cutting up the grass and damaging kerbing.  

Just as disrespectful is the attitude of delivery drivers who reverse their ever larger delivery vans and lorries into resident’s private roads or driveways. After all it is the resident who has to pay for the repairs to the surfaces. Consideration is all we ask.

Speeding in 20 or 30mph zones, the Dayinsure survey found, was also unsafe and annoying to other road users and one of my biggest gripes, although not a safety issue, is the increasing lack of politeness by not offering a 'thank you' with a wave of the hand or a flash of the headlights when letting out another driver into traffic or on-coming traffic not giving way when their side of the road is blocked with parked traffic. 

And don’t get me started on people who block main roads through villages and towns by parking half on the road and half on the pavement.  

 Since it became illegal for lane-hogging on motorways has anything changed? Not in my opinion. The middle lane trundlers are still there, still adopting the selfish attitude of, ‘I pay my road tax I can drive where I like’. No you can’t,its illegal.  

The same goes for tailgating. Has that stopped since the change in the law? No it hasn’t.  Of course with very few police patrols on our roads, nobody is around to enforce these new rules.

There are lots more issues that annoy road users but one of the worst this year has become the lines of slow moving traffic on country A roads. 

Drivers just trundling along, either in no rush or saving fuel, with nobody overtaking or leaving a space between their car and the one in front so anybody else can overtake. Pure selfishness and a case of I’m alright Jack!

Without going down the blaming route, why is the standard of UK driving getting worse?  We learn from each other but we seem to learn the bad ways rather than good ones.  

Do drivers set a good example to their children or will the next generation of drivers just think rudeness and selfishness is the right way? Certainly Driving Instructors should play a bigger part in educating learner drivers in the right way to behave, but we should look at ourselves first and lead by example.

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