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