We teach our children to share nicely. We want them to understand the other child’s point of view. When my children were young, I was forever explaining how their friend (insert name here) deserves a turn with the ball too. Being empathetic to other people’s needs is the glue of society.
How then does this apply to driving or riding? We all share the same road space. We all need to coordinate our journey with those around us. But sometimes, when someone pulls out or fails to indicate, it annoys us. It tests our patience. We forget to share.
It is easy when cosseted in our mobile armchairs, to forget that other road users may need something different. A cyclist may see a pothole late and need to avoid it or face a long walk home. The driver of large lorry might have to use a bit of space on ‘our’ side of the road to make a sharp turn. If we can recognise these sometimes differing needs and try to accommodate them, we can all make much better use of the road.
A basic premise of advanced driving is about asking the ‘what if’ questions. Anticipating what another road user might do and avoiding them. But let’s now expand this out to ask what do other road users need from me?
Scenario: pedestrian standing between two busy lanes of traffic. You could think “Idiot, shouldn’t have crossed there.” Or you could be sympathetic to the fact that they’re stranded. Whatever the reason, they’re vulnerable, and you have the power to help them. Why not give it a go? You’ll likely improve their day as well as yours.
At times our manners on the road can slip due to the ever-increasing pressures of the world. It is often the individual who holds the door open for you on your way to the car park, who is the one blasting their horn at you 30 seconds later if they perceive you have wronged them on the road. The world, viewed through the eyes of others, may allow you to help them without them even realising it, making the road a safer space. It might even catch on if we all gave it a go.
Remember, until you walk a mile in another person’s shoes, you won’t appreciate that driving is much better than walking, especially if we ‘share nicely’.
____Read Richard’s tips on sharing the road safely with vulnerable users here.