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How to be a more courteous driver

Good manners make all the difference in a rush-hour situation.

Resist the urge to beep!

Resist the urge to beep!

There’s something about getting behind the wheel of a car that can transform the most level-headed soul into a snarling fiend. Any trifling misdemeanour becomes a personal slight; from the girl in front who turns left without a signal to the delivery driver who’s too busy rocking out to Van Halen to notice the light’s turned green (his air-drum solo is way off, too). But while it’s tempting to slam your fist on the horn or fling your arms in the air, it’s not going to help. Repeat: wailing and gnashing your teeth only makes things worse. Instead, take the moral high ground and defuse undue in-journey angst.

Communicate your intentions

One of the leading causes of road rage is when drivers behave in an unexpected way. If you find you’re always flicking your indicator midway through turning into a junction, you should take a long, hard look at yourself in the rear-view mirror. Signal in plenty of time – not once you’ve reached the junction or midway round the roundabout. It’s only fair to give others time to plan for your actions.

Resist the beep reflex

Ever hear a beep, followed by a honk, then suddenly a chorus of horns, all tooting in deafening unison? Frustration is infectious. You should only be using your car’s horn to alert others to your presence – not to your emotions. Instead, when the maddening happens, take a deep breath, count to three… and just get on with your life.

Let others out

Don’t block or rush across a car’s path if it’s emerging – slow down, leave the way clear and let other drivers out, especially if a junction is jam-packed. It will only add about three seconds to your journey. Similarly, when you notice a car indicating that it needs to move into your lane, be nice, hold back and let it out. You might save some poor soul a three-mile round trip in the wrong direction. Plus, you’ll be beaming at the thought of all the good karma coming your way.

Respect the vulnerable

Fact: nobody likes being stuck behind a cyclist, a street cleaner, or a horse. But anyone can handle the circumstances with grace and decorum. Stay back. Don’t attempt to pass unless it’s completely safe, and if you do, leave at least a car’s width between you and the other road user.

Leave plenty of time

The slightest delay can become a big deal if you’re in a rush. It’s a cliché, but one of the best things you can do is plan your journey before you set off. Use a sat nav with live traffic updates so you can be realistic about the time it will take. Activate your car radio’s traffic news. If you do come across a delay, don’t try to compensate by rushing. Nothing’s worth causing an accident for.

About the Author

Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

Staff writer at Arnold Clark