The Unspoken Road Rules

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

In my opinion, there are certain unspoken road rules. These are rules that are never formally taught, and have no relationship to the legalities of driving. Rather they are rules that revolve around basic driving courtesy, respect, and consideration for fellow road users.

Most of these rules we aren’t even aware of… Until somebody in our immediate vicinity places us at the receiving end of their disregard for them. At this point I am often surprised at some of the words escaping my lips, and even more so at my fluency in gesticulation. The irritation, anger, anxiety and distraction caused by my inconsiderate fellow road users completely eradicates the calm, focused headspace I should be employing while I’m behind the wheel.

I’m referring, of course to things like how when you are unfamiliar with a particular road, or are looking for an address for the first time, do not creep along at a fraction of the speed limit while cars (or, indeed, car) back up behind you. Courtesy suggests pulling over and letting the other drivers pass. They may have places to go, and, let’s face it, you are likely to feel less stressed without them pressuring you from behind. And when someone pulls over for you, put a friendly hand up, flash your hazards, and say “thank you.”

Speaking of pressure from behind is the flip side of that coin. If somebody is driving slower than your liking by sticking to the speed limit or, heaven’s forbid, driving to the conditions, cuddling their bumper is inappropriate. Better yet (and I have experienced this one first hand), if you almost collide with said bumper – twice – because you are not paying attention and are just too close, do not show me the finger out of your window. This is totally uncool behaviour! I recently learned a trick for the moments when Jensen Button is on your tail, trying to prove a point: I can be equally rude, and can choose to slow down…just a little…making the experience just a tiny bit more annoying for you. (I did not employ this tactic during the “almost tasted my bumper – twice” – incident.)

Stick to your side of the road. Okay, this one might actually be legally required, last time I checked anyway. I live on a very narrow, windy, country road. You would think because you can’t see around the next bend that it would encourage drivers even more to stick to their side of the road. It doesn’t! And you’d think that when they saw you coming around the corner directly towards them, they’d very back into their own lane. They don’t! I think road-hogging is rude.

What is worse than rude is bullying! If you drive a bigger vehicle than mine (4 x 4, motorhome, truck), do not for a second believe that gives you more right on the road than I have. In fact, considering that I am using far less energy to run my perfectly ample 1300, you might want to afford me a little grace. Bigger cars are frequently bullies. And they interfere with my visibility. Maybe they are too big to see me. Should that be legal? A further note on bullying, I think blaring your music with all your windows down and forcing your beats to take precedence over mine is arrogant. I don’t like your music – if I did I’d be listening to it, wouldn’t I. Don’t force it on me, I don’t force my tastes on you.

And finally, when you make the accidental driving faux pas, and we all make them from time to time, at least try to look apologetic. When you don’t see the pedestrian about to cross at the crossing, when you forget that it’s the other persons turn, when you do move a little over onto their side of the road, when you have an “oops” moment, put a little hand up, show your apologetic face, and acknowledge your wrong. It is not cool to, focus directly in front of you, put your nose a little higher in the air, and blank the person you have just wronged. After all they can see your embarrassment and you look more the fool.

There you have it. Just a little bit of courtesy, just a little bit of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and thinking about how you’d like to be treated in that position. It’s no doubt the very cure to our rising road rage epidemic. Plus, you will feel better, arriving at your destination with stress free.

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