How many of you can directly relate your poor driving skills, aggressive road behaviour and carelessness on how badly your day is going? Do you set off on the school run or commute to work late and find yourself impatiently tooting the car in front for not pulling away quickly enough (in your opinion) from the roundabout. Or parking on double yellow lines, ‘it’s only for a minute while I drop the kids off’ outside a school. However good a driver we think we are we are all influenced by human and environmental factors when driving.
Even the most skilled road users are subject to loss of social awareness, intuitive biases, contradictory beliefs and limits in cognitive capacity. Some of us don’t even realise that our behaviour is aggressive. Imagine you are in a queue at the local supermarket, you are in a hurry and the queue is long and the young girl behind the till is slow. You may quietly think ‘hurry up’ in you head but you don’t shout at her, gesticulate at her or probably even show your annoyance, you continue quietly on with your shopping and your day. Now you are queueing behind several cars at a roundabout, you can’t see what the hold up is and you are late for a meeting, you toot your horn, shout out expletives and general make it known that you are unhappy. All from the safety of your vehicle! Sound familiar?
We are all guilty of this in some form or another but we need to slow down, calm down and stop being so antisocial on the road. It works both ways of course. Consider for a minute that you have just received a call to say a relative is seriously ill in hospital and you need to get there as quickly as possible. Under normal circumstances you are one of the safest people on the road, you keep to the speed limit, you follow the road rules, you only overtake when it is safe to do so. BUT on this occasion you are upset and worried and just want to get to your destination quickly. You drive a little less safely, you jump the lights, you toot your horn at the ‘idiot’ driver who seems to be in an equal hurry.
The point is that all of us from time to time have worries and issues that affect our ability to carry out activities safely and all of us at times assume that the ‘IDIOT’ driver is just that an idiot who can’t drive when in actual fact they may be rushing to their loved one’s side. So next time you are behind the wheel of a car and some ‘IDIOT’ starts tailgating you, tooting their horn or generally behaving in a reckless manner, don’t rise to the aggression, keep calm and imagine that they are on their way to the hospital or some other extreme emergency. If most of us stay calm and drive safely then hopefully this will reduce the number of aggression related accidents on the road.