Thursday 9 September 2010

£945 million could be saved a year if motorists were more courteous at the wheel, finds the Good Garage Scheme

A recent survey has revealed that 53 per cent of drivers admit to sometimes being aggressive behind the wheel, while nearly 20 per cent admit to often behaving this way, displaying disrespectful behaviour such as speeding, driving erratically and ignoring road signs to beeping a horn in anger, making offensive hand gestures, yelling, swearing and flashing headlights.

The UK insurer AXA, who carried out the independent survey, revealed that insurance premiums have risen 11.5 per cent in the last three months, partly because of road rage and disrespectful driving. They estimate that £945 million could be saved if British motorists were to rid themselves of aggression and disrespect of fellow drivers.

The survey found that almost four in 10 drivers involved in the 222,100 accidents on British roads every year say they were frightened or angered by other drivers in the moments before a crash or collision. Motoring psychologist Peter Marsh says that disrespectful, aggressive driving can cause an accident, while the negative emotions created by this type of driving can cause other drivers to become irrational and make mistakes.

AXA also revealed that 79 per cent of drivers believe that British motorists are generally disrespectful to fellow road users, with 52 per cent having been subjected to a “significant” act of road rage such as shouting and aggression.

So how can you tame road rage?

1. Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep makes us prone to feelings of annoyance, resentment and anger.

2. Plan ahead. Add ten minutes to your expected travel time and prepare things the night before. Extra time equals calmer driving.

3. Your car is not a therapist. Don’t use your car to blow off steam.

4. Turn down the music. Some music can exaggerate feelings of stress or anger, so listen to calmer music to reduce road rage.

5. It’s not about you. If someone has cut you off, or the person in front is going slow, remember you are not the target. Maybe there is a screaming baby in the car, or they just made a mistake. Just don’t take things too personally.

6. Use restaurant etiquette. While it’s upsetting when a stranger is rude or cuts in line in a restaurant or shop, you wouldn’t become abusive as a result. Driving a car makes people feel more isolated and protected, allowing them to act in ways they would normally find embarrassing. Respond in the same way you would in a restaurant.

7. Practice kindness. Say sorry if you make a mistake or allow someone to merge in front of you. Simple courtesy can make the driving experience a lot nicer for everyone.

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