HAVE you noticed that driving is becoming angrier, or at least less friendly? I don’t often see road rage, but in the past two or three years it seems that inconsideration, impatience and protest among city drivers has increased markedly. The fact that there has been a parallel increase in congestion on many of the Lower Hunter’s roads explains the declining civility.
Congestion and an increase in road rage or discourteous driving is behind a new NRMA campaign for more courtesy. I don’t know whether the NRMA will be urging drivers to be more considerate to others by, among other things, not hogging the right lane and by setting off from a green light promptly or whether it will be urging us not to remonstrate when drivers are inconsiderate, and the difference is reflected in my and my wife’s attitudes.
She sees my protests to seriously inconsiderate drivers as rude, and so my giving the bird to some goose is almost always followed by a squabble. Lately I’ve taken to warning her, as in ‘‘when I get past this idiot I’m going to meet my obligation to give him a corrective gesture’’, and that gives her time to look the other way. If we don’t remonstrate against bad, rude and inconsiderate driving we are not meeting our obligation to promote road safety, and our only means of remonstration from behind the wheel are the horn and a hand gesture.
The NRMA has launched its courtesy campaign with the results of a survey of 1500 people, and one result was that more than 1000 of the 1500 survey people believe that discourteous drivers drive discourteously because of bad manners and a lack of concern for others. I can’t see how anyone could see driving discourtesy as anything other than inconsideration or bad manners, even if that is unintentional. It is, for example, the tendency of women drivers to be unaware of what’s happening behind them that leads them so often to stop halfway into a park or driveway, thus blocking traffic behind. Unintentional but rude nonetheless. Is it discourteous to remonstrate against such inconsideration with a sounding of the horn and a questioning gesture with the hand held palm up? I like to preserve the digit for more deliberate rudeness.
Tailgating was declared by survey respondents to be the biggest aggravator, with 42 per cent of the vote, and that surprised me because while tailgating is particularly irritating it doesn’t seem common. I wonder if it is because I don’t drive slowly that I am rarely tailgated. Nor do I ever encounter the second most cited aggravator (39 per cent), refusing to allow another driver to merge, and that may be because I don’t merge tentatively. Third biggest aggravator is definitely high on my list, slow drivers hogging the overtaking lane (36 per cent). Time, always, for the bird and a squabble with my wife.
In the city the rude driving I encounter most often is the slow take-off at a green light. For those behind it’s not a matter of a few seconds but a few minutes, because at many intersections that red light is triggered by a certain gap, which means that the inconsiderate driver gets through and the drivers behind don’t. The fact that we can’t correct these drivers explains why this rudeness is so common. Hopefully the NRMA’s courtesy driving campaign will target this incivility.
Have you noticed more inconsiderate driving? What flips your bird?