Today is national “Random act of kindness day” in the UK, part of a movement to make kindness the norm. So what does kindness mean in driving?
You might think of things such as letting cars out of side roads, allowing lorries into queues when merging in roadworks or stopping for pedestrians to cross the road.
For advanced drivers, though, kindness shouldn’t be a one day a year thing. Titled “courtesy”, kindness is an advanced driving test assessment criterion and an integral part of the human factors we (should!) think about before every time we drive.
Kindness and courtesy come in many forms:
Kindness to others
- understanding they may be having a bad day, multi-tasking, driving more tired than they should, so anticipating someone pulling out in front of you when you see that car in a side street or staying calm which someone cuts you up on the motorway and just dropping back and increasing the gap again
- communicating your intentions clearly to other road users
Kindness to yourself
- understanding when you are in the same position as above and choosing not to drive, take a break or have a nap first, plan an easier route or allow more time
Kindness to your vehicle (yes really!)
- don’t forget your pre-drive checks – is your vehicle in a fit condition for the journey? (for example, in the ice and snow we had in early January, some vehicles were not suitable for some of Lancashire’s more remote roads…)
- sympathy for your vehicle’s engine and gearbox when selecting gears and timing gear changes
So, on Random Act of Kindness Day in Random Act of Kindness Week, in the words of Maya Angelou, why not “try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud?” – or perhaps your own?
"Human factors” include:
ourselves – our prevailing mood, emotions, tiredness, attitude and true driving limitations
the external world – other drivers (how we communicate with them and vice versa, anticipating their actions etc) plus other external factors such as the weather, road conditions and so on
the vehicle – its condition and limitations
the journey - its necessity, route, timing, duration etc