As our lives get more hectic, courtesy can suffer, and nowhere is this more evident than on our roads.
The AA has been surveying random samples of its 1.7 million Members for years, and here’s a breakdown of their top five frustrations on the roads:
5. 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 90-degree corners - yes we know you’re going that way - then watched in awe as they’ve pulled over to the side of the road minutes later without so much as a glance in the mirror, let alone a signal to warn you that they’re about to 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.
4. The Mobile Chatter
The idiot that thinks it’s okay to use their phone while driving, chatting away with one hand clamped to their ear. They might feel it’s no different to talking to a passenger, but any behaviour that takes your hand off the wheel or causes a distraction is dangerous. Since 2010 it’s been illegal to use a hand-operated phone while driving but it seems the threat of an $80 penalty and 20 demerit points isn’t enough to stop some people. Texting while driving is even more dangerous than talking on your phone when you’re behind the wheel. On average, writing and sending a text takes your eyes off the road for four to five seconds. At 90kmph, that’s essentially the equivalent of driving the length of a rugby field blindfolded.
3. The Tailgater
The third worst behaviour according to AA Member surveys is tailgating. Having someone driving right up your rear end can be pretty scary - if you have to stop suddenly you know it won’t end well for either of you. Frustration and impatience often lead to this bad driving behaviour, and things can escalate if the driver at the front retaliates by brake-checking, putting everyone at even more risk.
2. The Tortoise To Hare
Some people drive slow. They feel safer, but driving too slowly can be dangerous, causing frustrated motorists stuck behind them to take unnecessary risks in order to get past. Most frustrating of all for AA Members are when vehicles go slow until they hit a passing lane then speed up and make it hard for the line of traffic behind them to pass. If they would only pull over and let everyone pass!
1. The Red Light Runner
And at the top of the list of what grinds drivers’ gears mentally is the red light runner. It’s far too common a sight to see someone putting their foot down to try and speed through on an orange light or just flat out ignoring or not seeing a red light. It’s pretty simple: red means stop. Running a red is hugely dangerous and can have fatal consequences.
Courtesy and respect for fellow road users makes driving more enjoyable, and more importantly, makes the roads safer. Too many crashes are caused by lack of courtesy and patience.
Driving while under the influence, dangerous driving, and road rage are extreme examples of disrespectful driving, but the more common discourtesies that drivers can lapse into include being distracted, slow driving, failure to indicate, or not allowing enough following distance.
Courtesy on the road also involves recognising and accepting some responsibility for the actions of fellow road users. It is about being forgiving and making allowances, recognising that you will benefit when your goodwill is reciprocated.
Here are some tips to keep the ‘red mist’ at bay:
• Remain calm, relaxed, and alert.
• Drive defensively and make allowances for errors by others.
• Adopt a ‘share the road’ rather than a ‘me first’ approach to driving.
• Use the horn sparingly and only as a warning device.
• Leave unpleasant encounters or delays in the past and concentrate on the rest of the trip.
• Don't try to police other road users' behaviours. Leave those windows up if prone to yelling.