What’s a cooperative driving culture? In a culture of me, me, me, safety advocacy seems to take a back seat. When on the road do you think about what the right and courteous thing to do is or do you just want to get where you’re going and don’t care who you leave in the dust?
One of the lessons we teach our new drivers is to be a courteous and conscientious driver. We teach them to pay attention to what is going on around them and to make courteous and safe choices when they are behind the wheel of a car. Below are some tips on behaviors that will nurture a cooperative driving culture.
- The number one action that ALL of us can take when we are behind the wheel of a car is to pay attention to the task of driving. We should keep our head in the game and watch for anything that can create a hazardous situation for ourselves as well as others.
- Are you someone who likes to drive in the left lane? When you turn onto a road, do you head directly for the farthest left lane? A basic rule of the road is that the left lanes are for making left turns, passing, and for those that travel faster. Next time you’re on the road, stay in the center to right lanes and keep that left lane open for its intended purpose.
- When driving, do you have your music at a level that you can hear what is going on around you? Do you wear ear buds or ear phones while driving? Please don’t. When you hear an emergency vehicle do you look to see what direction it is coming from and help make room for it to pass through? Think about the fact that they are working to get to someone’s loved one and you can either be an impediment or a help.
- Do you ever engage in road rage when you’re having a bad moment, a bad day or a bad week? Do you take other’s driving mistakes personally and feel as though you need to let them know you are displeased? Sometimes people just make mistakes and you may be in the path of their mistake. No matter what the circumstance, just remember to cool off if you’re feeling irritated or grumpy before you get into your vehicle. Take deep breaths, drink some water and put some soothing music on to help you get to a “better state of mind.”
- Can you see in both directions at every intersection? Sometimes trees or bushes are in our line of sight and we really can’t see if there are cars coming. Instead of landing right in the crosswalk, stop before the crosswalk, check for pedestrians and cyclists, then creep up so that you can see both ways before you make your turn or go straight. If it is a city problem, contact the city and let them know that the landscaping is a creating a hazard in that area.
- Are you one of those people that don’t understand why bicyclists are on the streets? Do you find yourself getting agitated when cyclists are in front of you and you can’t get around them? Remember that bicyclists have the same rights as motorists and they should be following the same rules of the road. Recognize that some of them don’t follow the rules and that motorists need to take extra care when we see cyclists. When they are hit by a car, it often does not end well. Remember they are human beings and the slight amount of time you may gain by quickly getting around them can cause someone heartache for a lifetime.
- Are you one of those folks that land up smack dab in the middle of crosswalks or starts to make your right or left turn before pedestrians have made it to the curb? Wait, be patient and let pedestrians get safely across the street before you go. Remember pedestrians have the right of way!