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Unwritten Rules of the Road

We learn to drive. We study and fret. We read and learn the rules and laws as laid down in the Highway Code. We nervously await the test date and then, when fortune smiles, we pass the draconian driving test and we are unleashed upon the road.

Sadly, over time, those fresh new drivers begin to get complacent; they start to fall into bad habits making the roads less comfortable for other drivers and in some cases, more dangerous.

In short there exists a road user etiquette that goes beyond the official driving test parameters as we gain experience: The unwritten rules of the road.

We All Make Mistakes

Whether you've just passed your test or you've been driving for three decades, it's always possible to make a mistake in the heat of the moment; in heavy, mixed traffic for example. Now, just as we would like to be treated leniently when we make a mistake, we should aim to be as relaxed as possible when someone else makes a muck up, or doesn’t adhere to the driving rules.

So the next time when out and about and someone in front blunders, try to avoid shouting or waving at them and getting hot under the collar. An angry driver is a bad driver. Instead, ease off the accelerator, ease off the fury and give them some space; sigh and move on. Getting angry only makes matters worse. Road rage is unpleasant and unnecessary.

Staying Safe On The Road

Drivers in general are only as good as their vehicle. An individual might believe he or she is a driving god, but in an unsafe car, that genius will fade faster than the other person’s good nature. Car servicing is vital. In moments of danger it is vital that a car can steer and stop as quickly as possible. This is only possible if the car is serviced and maintained properly.

That’s why sticking to the maintenance schedule is crucial and the best way to do this is to book in for a service and the annual MOT at your local car servicing garage. It doesn’t have to be a main brand dealer either; an independent and trusted local garage will cost less and offer a more personal service. They can’t help with your on-road temperament though; that’s your job.

Get Off The Paths

When stopping for just a moment or when picking up children from school it is morally wrong to mount pavements, blocking the way for pedestrians, wheelchair users and people with prams and buggies. Just don’t do it. It’s antisocial and risky. The police take a dim view too.

Merge In Turn

When two lanes merge into one it can sometimes cause near misses. Merge in turn means just that; it doesn’t mean press the throttle hard and shoot past to save a whole car’s length. It is surprising the number of drivers who do not follow this road etiquette.

It’s a form of selfishness and there’s a lot of that about. Don’t let others put you in that box. A bit of consideration goes a long way. Essentially, the same thing applies at road junctions. Folk who try to push their way in only put others’ backs up. Sometimes, with the flick of a finger, some kind soul will let you out.

Leaning On The Hooter

The days of blaring air horns are behind us which is a shame in a way but there are rules for car horns too. Many now sound like an irritated sheep but it pays to remember that this is a warning device to let others know you are there in certain circumstances. They are not a device for hurrying up your slow partner or venting your anger on some other driver who just made an honest mistake.

Other Peoples’ Misfortunes

Sometimes we see some stricken car at the roadside with a forlorn owner standing next to it. Sometimes we see the aftermath of a bad accident with flashing lights and emergency vehicles. These events are not entertainment: Please don’t slow down and rubberneck. Taking care, drive as quickly away from the scene as is possible. Misfortune isn’t a spectator sport.

And Finally…

Being courteous on the road doesn’t cost anything but it makes driving a more pleasant experience. The same goes for car servicing. A well maintained car is a pleasure to drive. Don’t let yourself down.

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