Blaise Tapp: Worrying erosion of courtesy on the roads

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Are we as safe on the roads as we were, say, a decade ago? A clutch of grim recent statistics would suggest not.

Last month we were told that road accidents resulting in death or serious injury have risen to 25,000 an increase of four per cent from the previous year. Then it was revealed that as many as 500,000 of us are believed to illegally use our mobile phones while at the wheel.

The average driver has lost the ability to simply raise a hand when a stranger does the decent thing and lets them through.

This was then quickly followed by the introduction of new ‘drug driving’ laws which were brought in to counter the growing menace of spaced out motorists causing havoc on the roads.

Taken together these three worrying developments should be a concern for any of us who rely upon our own steam to get us from A to B although there will be some who will point out that our roads are far safer than, say, 15 years ago.

They will argue that the introduction of new legislation can only be a good thing and, if implemented properly, will act as a deterrent for those who insist on flouting the law.

But one thing that cannot be disputed is that today’s motorists are the least courteous in living memory. I am not talking about those who are prone to the one-fingered salute or the much-favoured hand gesture which is rather reminiscent of that famous coffee advert from the 1980s.

Such behaviour has always gone on and it is unlikely to ever be eradicated and I speak as one of the great modern day front seat ranters, one who is prone to the odd furious hand gesture – all when I am parked legally at the side of the road, of course.

What I am talking about is the slow eradication of basic courtesies amongst many road users. Just think back to the last time you let a vehicle pass in the opposite direction on a busy street. Did you get a thank you?

Unlikely I think as it appears that the average driver has lost the ability to simply raise a hand when a stranger does the decent thing and lets them through. I am not asking for much: a raised hand – that can be safely done while holding the steering wheel; a thumbs up or even a quick blast of the hazard lights, although I am sure that some Smart Alec will tell me that this contravenes a 45-year-old highways regulation.

Personally speaking, if a beneficiary of my motoring magnanimity just drives on by without so much as a nod then I am guaranteed to get into the office in more than a grump than usual.

Why should this display of pig ignorance matter so much to me, especially when these idiots are complete strangers? In short, how we behave on the roads gives an accurate insight of how we are in our everyday lives and I really cannot stand discourteous numbskulls.

I am sure there are many out there who disagree with me but just think about a world where everybody took a fleeting moment to acknowledge a tiny common courtesy. It would look a better than the one we live in now.

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