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Road manners: Why being polite is better

Monday, February 17, 2014, 4:21 PM

Every time you get out on the highway, within minutes, you will see someone do something rude, silly or downright dangerous.

Quite often the lack of manners is attributed ‘these days’ or ‘people today can’t drive’ but that is not true – bad driving manners has nothing to do with modern times. You can find letters to the editor in newspapers from over 100 years ago complaining about driving manners in any large city around the world.  Bad road manners are NOT a new phenomenon and it is no worse now than it was decades ago. In fact 2000 years ago the traffic was so bad in ancient Rome that commercial vehicles were banned during the day and scholars had heated debates on the benefit of toll routes.

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If driving manners have not changed, then what is the cause?  Anonymity.

If you drive in a small town with less than a couple thousand people you will find that drivers are much more courteous on the road.

Because you know the other drivers personally and they know you. You are not going to cut off the guy who fixes your plumbing or the lady who teaches your children, and you are much more likely to forgive them for not using signals or making a minor error on the road.

In a city with millions of vehicles you have no connection to or context for the people around you – they are just in your way and must be imbeciles!

The next time you are about to be rude, blast your horn or yell at someone, keep in mind inside that vehicle is another person – with a job, family, bills, worries and schedules to keep just like you.

The solution?

Well, we could all have roof mounted bazookas on our cars, it certainly would make everyone much more careful.

A better solution is to spread the love. I'm sure you've heard the phrase: if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, and that applies to road manners too!  Set an example for other drivers and even for your children in the car with you. Wave at anyone who lets you in at a merge or when trying to get around in a parking lot. Wave back when other drivers thank you for doing something nice, let other vehicles in when they need to get in.


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