Keeping your cool on the road this Easter
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Everyday life can be hectic, and even more so at times of the year when it seems everyone has the idea to go to the same place at the same time.
Nowhere is this more evident or more dangerous than on our roads. Courtesy and respect for fellow road users is an easy win that can make driving more enjoyable and, at times, reduce the overall time of your journey.
Unfortunately, as is often demonstrated on our roads, common courtesy is not that common at all. One in six AA members say they have recently experienced a road-rage incident.
Driving while under the influence, dangerous driving and road rage are all extreme examples of disrespectful driving. But there are more common discourtesies that drivers can lapse into, such as being distracted, driving too slowly, failing to indicate, or not allowing enough following distance.
Tips to keep the “red mist” at bay
1. Remain calm, relaxed and alert.
2. Drive defensively and make allowances for errors by others.
3. Adopt a “share the road” rather than a “me first” approach.
4. Use the horn sparingly and only as a warning device.
5. Leave unpleasant encounters or delays in the past and concentrate on the rest of the trip.
6. Don’t try to police other road users’ behaviours. Leave those windows up if you are prone to yelling at other road users.
7. Follow the signs. Large road signs are placed around New Zealand to emphasise the importance of driver behaviour and personal responsibility on the road. Examples include: passing lane etiquette (“Stay in the left lanes”) and how to merge (“Merge like a zip”). You’ll also see reminders that stress and fatigue can reduce concentration and tolerance.
Four driver behaviours that frustrate motorists
The texter/navel gazer
Texting while driving is illegal and it can be even more dangerous than talking on your phone. Taking your eyes off the road can cause catastrophic accidents and texting drivers have been found to be 23 times more likely to crash.
Indicator use is a strange one in New Zealand, often over-used or under-used. There doesn’t seem to be a happy medium.
We’ve seen people indicating around a sharp corner and then watched in awe as they’ve pulled over to the side without evens a glance in the mirror, let alone a signal to warn you that they’re about to pull off the road.
There are also infuriating drivers who indicate as they make the move, or give a single blink when it’s too late to be of any use.
There are times and places where travelling below the speed limit makes sense, but some people can drive so slowly that it ends up frustrating the people around them.
This can lead to risky manoeuvres to get past.
It can be even worse when someone who was driving slowly speeds up when they reach a passing lane or sits in the outside lane, oblivious to the long tail of traffic stuck behind them. It’s okay to go slower than the flow, but keep left and let others pass.
The worst Kiwi drivers are the tailgaters. Having someone follow so close that you can see their eyeballs can be scary. If you have to stop suddenly, it won’t end well for either of you. Things can escalate if the recipient of the tailgate retaliates by brake-checking (a sharp stab on the brakes as a warning).
It’s a two-way street. Courtesy on the road involves recognising and accepting responsibility for our actions and not holding a grudge against fellow road users.
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