I WONDER if the contributor to your column of August 11, ‘Can’t we all just be a bit nicer?’ is not a little wrong in his perspective of road courtesy.
Courtesy on the road is all very well but in my long experience of driving it is often misplaced, misguided and more importantly misunderstood.
Speaking as a friend of a victim who suffered because of this “courteous benevolence” it as been a sore point with me ever since.
Riding his motorcycle coming to work he came to a junction at the main road, and stopped as he was obliged to do by law. A courteous driver in a small lorry apparently slowed down flashing his lights for my friend to come out of the junction. After some hesitation my friend set off, at the same time the other driver losing patience accelerated. My friend and boss was killed outright.
How many of us have lost count of the courteous driver who, having the right of way and for no other reason stops without showing any due care and attention towards the car following, to let out another vehicle from a side road? Then you get the worst idiots of all in the courtesy stakes, the driver on the oncoming lane wanting to turn into an opening or side road who flashes to a driver coming out of that road to proceed, with no thought whatsoever that the driver in the opposite lane is not of the same intention as he.
At the best there is a near-miss and at worst a collision sometimes with dire consequences. The point is this, that if it is your right of way it should be respected, and nobody should be beholding to another party in any way shape of form for having been allowed to proceed with that intention. Should cars be on “your side” of the road, then you stay behind them until the road is clear. In my opinion the courteous drivers who flash are encouraging you to break the law of driving responsibly and should not be thanked, but held in contempt. Do not forget, that if you are flashed and for all you know it may be to another driver to proceed, and not you, you are accepting that the way is free for you to proceed and you are accountable in law for whatever happens. As I have said before, the flasher will be totally innocent of any havoc caused, and will if possible beat a hasty retreat leaving you and the innocent other driver to sort it out.