Everyday life can be hectic, and even more so on those weekends when it seems everyone has the same idea to go to exactly the same place you’re heading to.

Courtesy and respect for fellow road users is an easy win that can make driving more enjoyable and at times actually reduce the overall time of your journey.

Unfortunately, as is often demonstrated on our roads, common courtesy is not that common at all.

Driving while under the influence, dangerous driving, and road rage are all extreme examples of disrespectful driving, but there are far more common discourtesies that drivers can lapse into, such as being distracted, driving too slow, failing to indicate, or tailgating.

Here are some tips to keep the ‘red mist’ at bay:

  1. Remain calm, relaxed, and alert.
  2. Drive defensively and make allowances for errors by others.
  3. Adopt a ‘share the road’ rather than a ‘me first’ approach to driving.
  4. Use the horn sparingly and only as a warning device.
  5. Leave unpleasant encounters or delays in the past and concentrate on the rest of the trip.
  6. Don't try to police other road users' behaviours.
  7. Leave those windows up if prone to yelling at other road users.
  8. Follow the signs. Large road signs are placed around NZ to emphasise the importance of driver behaviour and personal responsibility on the road. Examples include: Passing lane etiquette (“Stay in the left lanes”) and how to merge (“Merge like a zip”). You’ll also see reminders that stress and fatigue can reduce concentration and tolerance and increase the risk of being involved in a crash.

And here are five driver behaviours that commonly frustrate motorists:

1) The texter/naval gazer

Texting while driving is illegal and it can be even more dangerous than talking on your phone. Taking your eyes off the road can cause catastrophic accidents and texting drivers have been found to be 23 times more likely to crash.

2) The non-indicator

Indicator use is a strange one in New Zealand, often either over-used or under-used - there doesn’t seem to be a happy medium. We’ve seen people indicating around a sharp corner - then watched in awe as they’ve pulled over to the side without so much as a glance in the mirror, let alone a signal to warn you that they’re about to pull off the road and stop. There’s also those infuriating drivers that indicate ‘as’ they are making the manoeuvre, or give you a tiny, single blink when it’s already way too late to be of any use to you.

3) The crawler

There are times and places where travelling below the speed limit makes sense, but some people can drive so slowly that it ends up frustrating the people around them. This can lead to risky manoeuvres to get past.

It can be even worse when someone who was driving slowly speeds up when they reach a passing lane or sits in the outside lane, oblivious to the long tail of traffic stuck behind them. It’s OK to go slower than the flow, but keep left and look for opportunities to let others past.

4) The tailgater

The worst Kiwi drivers of all are the tailgaters. Having someone following so close that you can see their eyeballs can be pretty intimidating - if you have to stop suddenly you know it won’t end well for either of you. Things can really escalate if the recipient of the tailgate retaliates by brake-checking (a sharp stab on the brakes as a warning).

It’s a two-way street; courtesy on the road also involves recognising and accepting responsibility for our actions and not holding a grudge against fellow road users. It is about being forgiving and making allowances, recognising that you will also benefit when goodwill is reciprocated. This helps improve overall road safety and therefore contributes to reducing the road toll.

5) The amber gambler

Sure, it might be exhilarating to speed up in order to just scrape through a traffic light, but it’s dangerous and certainly not worth the risk - it’s a bad habit to have, and it could lead to major collisions.

Some traffic light transitions are longer than others, so you may think that you have time to make it when you really don’t. Responsible driving means slowing down and stopping when the light turns amber (if it’s safe to do so).

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