Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Calm Down - Be Better - Save Lives

Are you a road user?

Silly question really because in one way or another, we all are.

The aggressive and hateful reaction to several recent newspaper articles has me wondering just why usually placid, peaceful, understanding and kind people become ranting, raving aggressive lunatics when driving or discussing the driving or road usage of others.

Perhaps we all consider our driving skills to be elite and this qualifies us to express our expert views on everything and anything road usage related.

Only two weeks ago a passenger suggested I use the horn to move along a driver in a car park who had held us up for 10 seconds. It was not as if we were running late, in fact we were about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

In all other aspects of life, my passenger is patient, courteous and forever helpful of others. On all matters of road usage, he is the exact opposite.

He had little interest in my explanation for not expressing frustration when I said “they look nervous, may not be used to city driving and I have no idea what is going on in their life that may be distracting them”. His comment was “well they shouldn’t be on the road if those things apply”.

For some reason, we think yelling, abusing or tooting an obviously inexperienced driver will help them be better and safer. Like with most errors, a driver doesn’t need to have it aggressively pointed out to them. No one benefits from having a more anxious nervous driver as a result of such aggressive behaviour.

And every road user group dislikes the others. Ask a heavy vehicle driver what they think of a caravan on the highway or a delivery driver’s opinion of taxis in the CBD. *

Why do so many car drivers disrespect motorcyclists? Is it because they illicit jealousy at being able to so effectively and efficiently make their way through heavy traffic?

And what about those fit and active cyclists in their bike lanes. They may delay a motorist getting to the next red light, not to mention being able to progress more quickly when traffic is heavy.

There are constant calls for cyclists to be registered in order to receive respect on the roads. Does anyone really believe the behaviour and attitude towards cyclists would change if they were to pay a registration fee? Besides, if using the same formulas as for motorised transport, the fee would be a few cents a year.

If we all calmed down just a little and realised the vast, vast majority of road users are seeking to do the right thing life would be calmer. If we actually allowed enough time to complete our trips unhurried and unrushed, imagine how more relaxed we would be.

In the case of a traffic hold up, what would happen if instead of allowing ourselves to be overcome with anger about something we have no control over, we turned up our favourite music and relaxed while it cleared?

There are few if any other circumstances where normally rational and calm people become angry and aggressive.

How many lives might be saved if we took a different approach and how much lower would our collective blood pressure be ?

Happy motoring, cycling and motorcycling to all.

* By way of disclosure, I drive a car and ride a bike. I am also a part time motorcyclist
although I don’t currently own one. I also hold a heavy vehicle licence but have not
used it in the last 10 years.




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