Courtesy and road safety

Courtesy is everybody's business

Has anyone ever flipped you the bird on the road? Or maybe you were the one being impolite behind the wheel? We all have bad days. When we're on the road, the slightest mistake by another driver, cyclist or pedestrian can make us react in a way that's out of proportion. Mistake… that's a word we should keep in mind to avoid losing our cool.

What's happened to our manners?

Courtesy is everybody's businessAccording to a 2011 survey by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), 84% of Quebecers with a driver's licence think that the lack of courtesy on the province's roads is a major problem. What annoys many people is other drivers who cut them off, tailgate them, make rude gestures, speed or honk excessively. Nevertheless, 62% of respondents admitted that they are sometimes culprits themselves. That's paradoxical, isn't it? What's important to mention is that more than half (55%) of those who are honest enough to admit their indiscretions say that the fault lies... with others.

Does that mean good manners are disappearing from our roads? Is there anyone left who knows how to behave behind the wheel? A quick visit to online forums and blogs about driving could make you fear the worst. Judging from what you can see there, we all think everyone is a terrible driver (except ourselves, of course).

What is courtesy?

According to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, courteous is defined as polite -> considerate.

And if we look up considerate, we find the word thoughtful. Courtesy is therefore primarily about being thoughtful towards other people. But courtesy on the road also means respecting the provincial Highway Safety Code. Thoughtfulness + Obeying the rules = Courtesy on the road. That's not so hard.

Courtesy affects your safety

Courtesy is important when you're walking, riding a bike or driving a vehicle. By being polite and tolerant towards others, you're enhancing your own safety as well as that of others. Here are some tips for being courteous:

  • Leave early so you won't be overstressed when driving.
  • In winter, remove all snow from your vehicle.
  • Signal your intentions.
  • When walking or riding a bike, make yourself visible.
  • Thank other drivers with a friendly hand gesture.
  • Slow down a bit when a vehicle is passing you.
  • Stay calm.

More advice is available in the road safety section of the SAAQ website.

The next time you see someone make a stupid move that raises your blood pressure and gets you hot under the collar, don't lose your cool. Take a deep breath and remind yourself to be courteous. After all, the other person may simply be making a mistake. We all do.

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