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So you think you're a good driver

Updated on July 29, 2010
Large scale pile ups like this are becoming more commonplace the world over
Large scale pile ups like this are becoming more commonplace the world over

The roads today

Accidents to so many people are things that happen to others, but the very nature of an accident is something that is unforeseen. Sometimes they're only minor, but the picture above shows that that's not always the case.

In fact, accidents like the one above are becoming more commonplace since the volume of traffic is that much higher than it used to be. More roads are becoming congested and going to and from work for many means a commute.

Our roads are not built for high volumes of traffic and I should know, I have spent several years commuting and have seen my fair share of accidents, road rage and general idiocy.

One accident involved an elderly driver driving down the wrong side of a dual carriageway into traffic that was travelling in excess of seventy miles per hour. The road was closed for several hours while the emergency services did what they had to do and I was forced to take another route home, which took nearly three hours.

That was all caused by one person not paying attention.

Sporty road users

Cars like these that seem to jump up and down to the pounding bass that emanates from a collection of speakers, each bigger than the average wash basin are notorious for being seen racing round towns and estates everywhere, but surprisingly, they make up a tiny number of road users. Sure they can be maniacal, irresponsible and often too wrapped up in themselves to be good drivers, but they are by no means the cause of the majority of accidents on our roads.

Women drivers

There is a myth that women make the worst drivers, but I beg to differ.

I know the car shown on the right is a woman driver, but she is not the first person to do this, nor will she be the last.

Generally speaking, in nearly forty years of road use, I can't honestly say that either of the sexes can be pointed at and told that they are the worst drivers. Both males and females are equally as bad or good and neither shines more or less than the other.

So is it old age pensioners?

I don't think that figures either.

I think at times, we are all as bad as each other.

I have been behind a slow-moving car that when I have been able to pass it, I have seen that the person driving was actually a younger male. It wasn't that he was driving badly exactly, but he was doing less than thirty in a sixty limit and causing a tailback of angry drivers all of whom were jostling to get past and had it not been for the fact that passing where we were would have been suicide, someone would eventually have tried to wang past and there's no guarantee that the road ahead would have been clear.

Poor driving isn't down to one section of the public.

Ways to reduce the risk of accidents

There's no sure-fire way to prevent accidents. As I said above, accidents are not planned, so therefore it follows that they cannot be planned against - if that makes sense.

What you can do though, is plan to minimise the risk of accident.

Here are some safe driving tips:

Safe driving does not mean like some people think, that travelling around at half or a third of the speed limit will prevent you from having an accident, it will probably increase the chances if you are mimsing along at twenty in a fifty limit, holding up the traffic. At the very least, you are in danger of inciting road rage.

  • Don't think you're the best driver on the road

This is foolhardy. You may well be better than some, but whoever you are, you're not going to be the best - besides, how can you possibly measure such a claim?

Nevertheless, this seems to be a popular misconception with those who drive fast cars, big cars or those who feel they are generally better than others to begin with. It makes them difficult to be around as more often than not, they are so wrapped up in themselves that they drive like morons

  • Don't expect from other road users

Expecting from other road users can be fatal. I don't even leave a junction when someone is signalling to turn in and therefore making the road clear until I actually see them turn in.


Simply because too often, people leave their indicators blinking and have no intention of turning off. I have been honked a number of times and had embarrassed looks when instead of turning, the idiot in the car that should have turned, just sailed on past without the least idea what was going on.

  • Keep up with the flow of traffic - don't impose your speed on others

That means whether you're driving too fast and aggressively, or too slow and causing following traffic to be aggressive towards you, you should be thinking about comfort and safety and not just your own. Use some common sense and watch speed limits.

You should be able to discern between what's safe and comfortable and what's not. You should also know what the last speed sign said. Too often I see people who drive at forty-five, regardless, which makes them too slow on fast roads, too fast in slower areas and dangerous in both.

If you don't feel that you can drive that fast, pull over and let those who can through.

  • Don't assume

This is another fatal thing to do.

It may well be right that ninety-nine percent of the time, there isn't anyone on the roads when you head out to work, but then there's that canny one percent.

That's the one that turns out to be a damned great articulated lorry that is thundering past the junction just as you pull out - right in front of it.

  • Think of other road users as idiots

This has a two-fold effect.

  1. It means you'll expect the worst from the drivers and riders around you and when they do something stupid, you won't be surprised, in fact, you'll be ready for it.
  2. When they do something right, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

It's not a nice thing to think that all the other drivers on the road are mentally deficient, but it's about the only way to successfully pre-empt another numpty pulling out without looking, turning without signalling, signalling without turning and a whole host of other mind-boggling no-no's.

  • Put your lights on when its raining

This helps others see you.

The rain can cut visibility noticeably and far too few people put their lights on because they don't think it helps. It doesn't make any difference to them, so how can it for others?

Well it does. Don't argue, just do it.

  • Acknowledge people when they do things that make life easier for you

A wave of thanks when someone does something good is all it takes to make doing it worthwhile.

Letting someone out of a junction isn't mandatory, you should be grateful.

  • Don't drive on full beam when others are in the vicinity

How annoying is this?

There you are in the dead of night and it's difficult enough to see as it is, when round the corner comes someone with their headlights on full. Now suddenly you can't see anything and even when the idiot's gone, you still keep seeing coloured splodges.

Way to go, moron

  • keep a safe distance from the car in front

Having someone right up your tailpipe is not comfortable - if you'll pardon the expression. It can feel threatening and definitely can lead to you not feeling safe. Is he/she going to run into the back of me.

If you're in front, it's automatically the others person's fault if they run into the back of you. However, that doesn't make the whiplash or losing your car while it's being repaired feel any better.

Hang back and give each other room.

Driving and riding should be pleasurable

It should not be a chore to drive.

In fact, it should be a pleasurable experience. With in-car stereos being more than radios that lost track of the stations they were tuned in to, cars generally having better seating than the average person has in his or her living room and they're safer now than they've ever been, it darned-well ought to be pleasurable.

The trouble is, many people haven't a clue and that puts the onus on you to do the right thing.

It means you should put your lights on when its raining. You may not see any better, but you will be able to be seen better. In this instance, your lights are for the benefit of others.

You should give a wave of thanks or a flash of your lights when someone does something nice for you - letting you out of a junction or acknowledging the fact that you stopped to let them through. It's all part of being a responsible road user. What's more, it adds to the pleasant side of driving and makes you feel that you did your best.


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