Driving Etiquette

Welcome to a new year of fun, work, and life. I wanted to touch on some recent observations regarding driving habits that perhaps might ring true for you also, habits or behaviours that aren’t necessarily breaking the road rules but are just an example of bad etiquette.

If we look up the meaning of ‘etiquette’ in the Oxford dictionary we find this exact wording for consideration.

  1. the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group.

Nowhere in there does it mention rules, our boundaries, it specifically talks about behaviour in essence. Now I like to play a little golf now and again and in golf, etiquette is somewhat of a custom, it forms the very foundation of the game itself, I was told when I started this is what makes golf a “Gentleman’s game”.

For instance, it’s customary for you to be quiet when your fellow player is taking a shot, or if your ball is in front of theirs on the green you mark your ball and let them go first, another thing you see is offering the remove the flag for them when they putt or fixing your own pitch mark on the green so the surface remains good for everyone.

These may form course rules, or may be in the rule of Golf itself, but the core aspect of the rules is to make the game more enjoyable for everyone. Etiquette also ensures everyone respects each other and makes the game fair.

What we are seeing on our roads while driving is a distinct lack of etiquette where drivers have no respect for other road users. I can think of some examples of this.

If you take the road rule “Keep Left Unless Overtaking” this always gets people wound up, for a number of reasons, sometimes they don’t understand where the rule applies and other times, they don’t apply etiquette to the application of the rule either.

One mistakes is knowing where the rule applies, it only applies to speed limited zones above 80Km/h, meaning that it isn’t applicable in an 80km/h zone or below, unless sign posted. It’s the word ‘above’ everyone misses in the rule, and this can lead to conjecture.

I can go into the reason why this is the case; however, I really don’t have enough space to do so, but that is how the rule is applied.

Now take a 4-lane highway, (4 in each direction for clarity), if you take the rule ‘Keep Left Unless Overtaking’ literally, it is only applied to the right lane. But what about the other 3 lanes?

Well we see people going at say 100km/h in a 110km/h in the 3rd lane right next to the right lane that is kept for overtaking purposes, then in the 2nd lane we might have another person doing 110km/h passing the person in the 3rd lane on the left and then you may see a truck going slow in the far left lane and it all seems rather risky. Well, it is risky, because there is a lack of Etiquette taking place.

You see if we have the slowest vehicles staying in the left lane and slightly faster vehicles in the 2nd lane and slightly faster vehicles again in the 3rd lane and the fastest in the right lane then traffic would flow so much better, and the risks would be reduced significantly.

But because of a lack of etiquette, this doesn’t happen furthermore when you mention this idea to people, they lose their mind completely, they react, by saying well that isn’t a rule. But again, let’s go back to that rule thing again, sometimes rules aren’t what’s needed, it’s common courtesy or respect of others that we should all employ while driving.

A bit like waiting patiently for someone to reverse park into a parking spot, again it’s good etiquette to give them space and room to do so without pushing past them while they are trying to park.

Or those people that queue across intersections and block it selfishly for the motorists trying to get through from the opposite direction. And while this one is for sure breaking a road rule, it’s also just good driving etiquette to not do it in the first place.

Another example of poor etiquette is not allowing another driver to change lanes when they are in front of you, we see people speeding up to close the gap, when all they want to is change lanes to perhaps turn left up ahead.

One of the greatest symbiotic relationships you can find in nature is driving, we all must negotiate the roads with others, we are there to share the roads, if we look at driving like a game of golf, we all have our own game to play, but we play together.

It may not be a road rule but think about how you can play the driving game better with etiquette and individually we will all make it a better safer place to be, we can all make driving a lot more enjoyable by changing one simple thing, our attitude.

By for now,

Stewart Nicholls

Managing Director

www.steersafely.com.au

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