Cool as a cucumber behind the wheel? Or are you a red hot chilli pepper (when other drivers are being stupid, obviously)? Here’s our pick of the worst driving behaviours we’ve seen – how these contribute to the worrying epidemic of road rage in the UK, and how to do your bit for road safety (and keep your nice new car unscathed) by avoiding them.
1. Up close and personal
The number one’s got to be tailgating, hasn’t it? And it’s not enough to say they should have gone to Specsavers. No – it feels like they’re out to bait you.
Research by the RAC Foundation would certainly agree. Executive director Edmund King said: “Impatient and irresponsible drivers who tailgate often prompt the driver in front to respond by sudden braking.” They found these two behaviours were the biggest causes of road rage.
So your reaction is crucial in staying safe and not escalating the situation – put away juicy thoughts of revenge and just let the aggressor go. Think cruel things if you must, but do it whilst keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
2. Drive the rep crazy
Eh? Otherwise known as ever-so-subtly stopping the car behind from getting through. And at a nice, leisurely (some might say slow) pace. Seriously, folks, it’s not helpful. It’s fun but it incites road rage, putting you in danger, and too many of us in the UK are victims of that already. Don’t play games when you’re at the wheel of tons of metal.
If you’re not playing drive-the-rep-crazy, it would be reasonable to express surprise at being rammed. But if this situation should arise, don’t make it worse with aggressive shouting or bad driving. Get safely out of the way and don’t even thinking about dignifying the bull-nosed butthead with a response.
The second biggest cause of road rage. The RAC research found that drivers of SUVs (a popular car type with young drivers these days), BMWs or ‘white van men’ were most likely to be aggressive. Surprised? Well, even if your car doesn’t fall into these categories, there’s no excuse for rude gesturing – it’s distracting, and makes other drivers’ responses possibly dangerous.
5. Leaving no time for the right-turners
At traffic lights. You’re waiting patiently to turn and they keep on coming right up to the red light, maybe even blocking the junction. Resist the urge to ram the last one. You want to live to fight another day. Deep breath and squeak through. Or, if you’re not in the middle of the road, stick, and twist at the next lights.
6. Horns a-honking
Whilst we’re at the lights, what about the guys who slap on the horn the millisecond the light’s turned green? Hold up, mate. We’re not all Stirling Moss you know. But you’re saying that in your head, right? Smile ever so sweetly at crass drivers (whilst muttering something unrepeatable) – don’t sink to their level.
7. Refusing to reverse in a single lane, double-parked street
The bane of every congested city. We’ve all seen it: the local middle-aged dog-lady, peaceably driving her yapping pack, can’t reverse because two cars are behind her. Comes head to head with a road-rager, gesticulating away, who won’t back up. She’s an adult, so she simply sits it out. And she wins – ultimately, calm is the best response to irrational anger on the road.
8. Budging in
Technical term. We’ve not all been queuing half an hour in the merging-in lane, mate, to let you in as you screech up. It happens. But your reaction doesn’t have to. Let it go. Operation Yoga Breathing.
We’ve all done it. But can you avoid illegally using your mobile? That’s the top annoyance to other drivers. What about eating or reading the news on your touchscreen? Even smoking, which is shortly to be banned? If you’re wise, you will. It keeps you safer, both from distracted driving and from other drivers’ rage.
10. Middle lane hoggers
I confess they do get my goat. They get it so much you might be tempted pass on the inside. But don’t. At any second the hogger could decide he’s going to enter your lane, probably without indicating and definitely without looking in his side mirror and – kerbang – you’re in the wrong for insurance. Just employ the usual rules of the game. Stay calm and overtake on the right as soon as you can.
Half of all drivers on the receiving end of aggressive behaviour respond with more of the same – and with our roads in the UK getting ever busier, it’s not going to get better without conscious effort. So don’t be a numpty. Recognize these triggers and play your part in preventing road rage.
And if you’re looking for a new car with great safety features to help in your good driving habits, you can ask your local Perrys dealership for advice.