Manners Cost Nothing But Mean Everything

A little talked about element of advanced driving, but one that can make a huge day-to-day difference is "courtesy".

Think back on your last drive. Did you acknowledge the kindness of another driver who made way for you at a junction? Did you apologise when you made a mistake and caused another road-user to slow down or take avoiding action?  Did you hold back from a learner driver; giving them room so that they could perform their manoeuvres without feeling pressured?

During an associate's training for the advanced driving test, we stress the need for courtesy and highlight that, as advanced drivers, we should be setting the standard. However, courtesy is also much more than just saying thank-you (with your left-hand, rather than your right) or acknowledging your mistakes and apologising.  There are numerous actions, which we could all take each time we get behind the wheel, to make everyone's journey just a little bit more pleasant.  For example:
  • If you're in a queue of traffic, especially now the darker mornings and evenings are coming, don't sit there with your foot on the brake pedal. By applying the handbrake and removing your foot from the pedal, you'll  avoid blinding the driver behind with your brake lights. This is increasingly pertinent with the popularity of LED lights now.
  • In slow moving traffic, don't get fixated on the car in front but instead scan the road ahead and around you. Is there an action you could take which could help the traffic flow? Could you leave a bigger gap so that there is a safe area for a cyclist or motorcyclist to move into? Could you let the car, which is trying to join from a side-road out or, by not blocking a side road, help the flow of traffic in the opposite direction?  
  • When driving along motorways or dual carriageways always look out for slip roads or side turnings that join. If they are active then, by checking your mirrors and moving out to the right-hand lane, you will assist the person joining.
  • If, whilst driving in lane 2 with the aim of overtaking a vehicle in lane 1, you notice that it is itself closing up on a vehicle in front and you also see that lane 3 is free, consider moving into lane 3 to allow the vehicle in lane 1 to move into lane 2, rather than having to brake.
  • Stay alert at night when on unlit roads and driving on main-beam to pedestrians and other road users. Consider dipping your lights occasionally just to check that there is nothing coming (especially on bends or when cresting the brow of a hill) and avoid retaliating if someone is not as quick as you at dipping their lights - all this will result in is two drivers, travelling in opposite directions, being blinded.
A good habit to start to develop is to reflect, after each journey, on what you could have done differently. We know that there is no such thing as the perfect drive, or the perfect driver, but by being self-critical, committed to self-improvement and adopting the mantra that "priority should only ever given, never taken", we can go some way to making the roads a safer, friendlier place to be.


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