The pain of the aggressive driver

Kt Safer Driving Campaign
Filed on October 14, 2011

Speed kills and you could be the killer: KT’s safety campaign will focus on ten elements that need to be addressed in improving road safety standards.

Is better to lose one minute in life... than to lose life in a minute. Send your comments and suggestions, join in, let’s do something to make the roads safer.

'Know safety, no injury. No safety, know injury'

Nothing gets you into a bad mood like some cretin cutting across your lane when you are driving safely. That and the person who gets past you from the shoulder on the wrong side and you are forced to swerve.

And let’s not forget that other chump who rides up your rear and you can see him looming in your rearview mirror and you are saying to yourself, move back, move back but he just won’t. These guys are scary and they are usually in SUVs so if you are in a normal sedan you do get intimidated.

Bad driving, getting into the right lane well in time, maintaining a three car distance, these are basics and it defies common sense that so many of us don’t bother to follow the etiquette.

I was driving down to office and this man is on a roundabout holding a mobile phone in his hand and steering with one hand and the car is all over the place and he almost went over the arc of the circle.

Your personality does have something to do with the way you drive. Surveys have shown that the general driver and the aggressive driver will react differently to similar situations. The National Highway Transportation Safety Authority has this to say about the aggressors:

“All drivers, whether they think of themselves as aggressive or not, uniformly blame unsafe driving on the other driver. General drivers expressed dismay at specific unsafe driving maneuvers — drivers who speed, change lanes frequently, cut them off, and force their way ahead. Aggressive drivers, on the other hand, blame those who are going too slow in the passing lane and cars at the speed limit who force them to change lanes and weave in and out of traffic. As one woman said, “Get out of my way, please.”

Aggressive drivers also admitted to going much faster than the other groups and said that cars going 80 kph should be in the slow lanes. They also spoke of Left Lane Etiquette — “If I’m going 80 mph in the fast lane and someone comes up behind me, I should move out of his way.” They think slower drivers are the problem. Paradoxically, the aggressive drivers will go out of their way to block another car trying to pass or cut in front of them.”

Been there, seen that, we go through these experiences every day and the aggressive driver is a psychological case study. While he is likely to be in younger age category that is not always true, you can see 55 -year-old aggressive drivers. Affluence, power, position, the size of the vehicle and a natural personality trait of being a bully, whether at work, at home or in a social setting, the same core conduct manifests itself behind the wheel.

Such people are the worst when it comes to the use of indicators. General drivers will indicate their turn a normal 100 metres or so prior to making it. Aggressive drivers will hit their indicator either half a mile and three turns earlier which is dangerous because that light has been blinking for a minute now and that is not safe driving.

Either that or they’ll switch it on 10 metres from the turn and then careen away while the person behind them goes crazy and those waiting on his right cannot take advantage of his turn because he did not give them time to enter the mainstream. The odds are also pretty neat that he will not indicate at all and just go off the main track.

If you sense an aggressive driver, don’t compete. If he is stupid, you don’t have to be.

Readers' Comments

Heavy trucks should not be allowed in off peak time and only 2 to 4 hrs only in a day. Moreover they dangerously overtake especially in roundabouts. Another untapped danger in the road is unsafe way transporting goods/equipments/gas cylinders. We need to concentrate on this issue more, since this can make disastrous consequences. – Hseengineerr

Great initiative- a lot of people are irresponsible not only for their life but for the others as well; more people should realize the driver drives the vehicle. - Teodora Varadinova

It is better to reach a minute late at your destination than to never reach it. I fail to understand why do people try and hurry in everything they do. There is no need for speeding, if only we set out from our homes on time rather than stepping out at the last minute and then driving recklessly on the roads, putting innocent lives at stake. Motorists should drive safely on the roads and avoid speeding because this is not a solution to our problems, but a major issue in itself ! - Fatima Suhail

What we will do with under age drivers. Some racers with big Porsche cars overtaking for the sake of FUN. - Razia Taher

When the Radar Gun came to the Emirates it was used on the DXB-SJH road in the dark you can guess what happened. First thing to educate is Speed you can see in my photo left the Mustang with a four digit plate the police were told to stop chasing speedsters anyone with two or three digits would be able to have the cop deported if he dared to stop them. I have when I went to my car in the morning there were often Biz cards on the Screen from hopeful buyers why cos it was one of the only ones without bodywork damage. You won’t see white boys owning them true I was in the car rental Biz. Fast in a straight line gives little driving experience. When we wanted to start a Motor Club in 87 we were told from up high NO we don’t want our youth killed. Today its the best Formula One Track in the world. - James Bird

Good idea. I support the campaign for Road Safety.- Reghuthaman Paduvilayi

All for road safety

As a regular reader of Khaleej Times, and as a traffic safety campaigner in my own capacity, I am extremely happy to note the Khaleej Times Traffic Safety Campaign kicking off. But I feel that we should not just make it UAE specific, but global.

I happened to campaign for traffic and road safety after the tragic loss of two sets of lives connected to me.

One was my own brother-in- law who was killed by a speeding water tanker in Bangalore and another was my Mathematics teacher and her entire family who died in an accident in Abu Dhabi.

Both were irreparable losses to me, my family and to those affected. A moment of resilience and due diligence and all those lives could have been saved. But it didn’t happen.

I still remember the phone calls of my brother-in-law Rajeev Menon, the pleasing smile of my mathematics teacher Mrs. Victoria D’Souza and her son and their immediate family who perished in that accident. Their memories still remain with me even after many years.

I used to be a speedster myself but after those incidents I can honestly tell you that I have never violated the rules and have never incurred any traffic fines or penalties. Whenever I have witnessed an incident of road rage or an anomaly, I have campaigned heavily using my blog or other available ‘Have Your Say programmes’ to stop or control such acts being repeated in future.

One such incident I still remember was the massive road pile up that happened on the Abu Dhabi–Dubai highway two years ago on a foggy morning. On my way to Dubai Academic City to sit for an exam early in the morning, I witnessed a 35-seater bus speeding and flashing lights behind me, when there was absolutely no visibility due to the heavy fog. Probably, the driver was a regular motorist on the route and he knew the road and turnings inside out, but his actions really scared me. I allowed him to overtake me with some hesitance but noted his number and company details. After reaching Abu Dhabi I tried calling the company to notify them but they were closed.

Next morning when I read the news I learnt of the pile up that happened on the highway and immediately remembered to call them. But, till evening I couldn’t and around 5 pm when I was able to establish contact with the PRO of that company and informed him of the incident of the previous day, I was told that one of the buses was involved in the accident. Probably, it was the same driver, and the same set of passengers.

It is the duty of every road user to report violent driving habits and rash driving. Do not hesitate. One minute or one hesitant instance of your reporting may result in the loss of many lives.

Do follow the safety rules all the time. Let the initiative be taken up by all national associations, all corporate companies, all transport organisations and let us not hear about one human caused tragedy in the coming months.

Do not use mobiles, do not read papers or bills while driving, do not text. Most importantly, do not drink and drive.Best wishes to all safety campaigners. -Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

I suggest we get rid of the 24 point system and lower it to 10 and increase the fines. Then there is a chance most drivers will obey the rules. Those that continue to re-offend, should be given a lifetime bad driving mark or deportation.

If you are really serious about safety, then you have to be serious at making it work. No more excuses, make it happen and this needs to come from the top down and reach every level in the UAE. No more “I know someone who can fix my wrongdoing”. You have to pay the penalty and learn from your mistakes to become a better driver. We all can do better, none of us are as good as we think we are!! - James Hay, Dubai

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