Driv­ing us mad

Are we re­ally just too fran­ti­cally busy to mind our man­ners on the roads? asks Terry Hunt

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

I passed my driv­ing test on Mon­day, Septem­ber 9, 1974. Need­less to say, things were rather dif­fer­ent on our roads back in those days. Much less traf­fic, not so fre­netic, and very lit­tle ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour. Or at least that was the case here, in lovely Suf­folk.

In those early days, I used to dread driv­ing in Lon­don. On the rare oc­ca­sions when I needed to ven­ture on to the roads of the cap­i­tal, I found it an ut­ter night­mare. No-one was po­lite, ev­ery­one was in a tear­ing hurry. I longed for Suf­folk, and its quiet roads, and de­light­fully po­lite drivers. Now, I fear those Lon­don driv­ing habits are rapidly spread­ing. Yes, even into Suf­folk. In the last decade or so, I’ve no­ticed grow­ing num­bers of im­po­lite, im­pa­tient mo­torists right here in our county. I will give you two ex­am­ples to sup­port my rather un­happy ar­gu­ment.

In my early days of mo­tor­ing, it was a given that you ac­knowl­edged a kind­ness shown to you by another driver. So, if some­one let you out of a side road into the flow of traf­fic, you would wave to say thank you. The same ap­plied if a kind driver let you through when a parked car was block­ing half the road.

A wave and a smile doesn’t take much, and po­lite­ness spreads. I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve let some­one out into a queue of traf­fic and, lo and be­hold, they do the same thing a few hun­dred yards fur­ther down the road. One kind­ness leads to another.

Sadly, though, so many peo­ple these days just can’t be both­ered to say thank you. After I’ve let them through, they just stare fixedly straight ahead, ob­vi­ously with too many im­por­tant mat­ters on their mind to worry about be­ing po­lite.

My sec­ond ex­am­ple is about night-time driv­ing. I was al­ways taught that, as soon as you were aware of another ve­hi­cle com­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, you should dip your head­lights. That way, you didn’t daz­zle them.

Nowa­days, so many peo­ple seem to wait un­til their head­lights are vis­i­ble to the other driver be­fore they dip. Rude, in­con­sid­er­ate, and po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous. Why have things changed in the last 40 plus years?

Well, I guess it’s a symp­tom of our so­ci­ety. Ev­ery­thing is so hur­ried these days, peo­ple are in a rush, and wrapped up in their own world. But is that a good rea­son for rude­ness? I don’t think so. So why don’t we make Suf­folk dif­fer­ent? We know we live in the best county in Eng­land. Let’s make sure it’s also the po­litest, most con­sid­er­ate county. Other parts of the coun­try might carry on be­ing rude, but right here in Suf­folk let’s hold on to those old­fash­ioned values.

Be­cause be­ing con­sid­er­ate and po­lite on the roads is im­por­tant. It sets the tone for the way we treat each other in all sorts of other ways. I’m sure we all want to live in a so­ci­ety in which our kind­ness is ap­pre­ci­ated.

A wave, and a pleas­ant smile, and sud­denly the day is a whole lot bet­ter!

‘Ev­ery­thing is so hur­ried these days, peo­ple are in a rush, and wrapped up in their own world. But is that a good rea­son for rude­ness?’

Above: Dip them – don’t daz­zle! Photo: Thinkstock

Terry Hunt, for­mer edi­tor of the East Anglian Daily Times, is Suf­folk born and bred and has lived in Ip­swich for more than 25 years.

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