Road RageAutoTrader survey finds road rage worst in New Brunswick, least in Quebec

By Jim Bray (a special TechnoFile rant)
June 25, 2015

How much does it take to make you want to flip off or shoot the person in the other car? Do you get upset when other drivers text, or change lanes without signalling, or drive with their knees while applying makeup or playing the fiddle?

According to a recent survey of "over 1,500 Canadians," if you live in New Brunswick, it appears you may be in the least "tolerant of such stuff" region of the Great White North. The poll not only broke down road rage by region, it also pointed out what peeves people in particular.

It appears the number one cause of road rage is people who talk and/or text while driving, with almost 30 per cent of respondents naming it as their number one annoyance. Is there any hypocrisy here? You be the judge: the survey also noted that 15 per cent of respondents admitted to texting while driving (a pretty stupid thing to do at the best of times - texting, not admitting to it!) and over a third (36 per cent) said they "at least sometimes" talk on the phone while behind the wheel.

There's really no reason these days why anyone has to field calls while driving. Bluetooth is becoming nearly ubiquitous on new cars and there's a wide enough variety of aftermarket stuff on sale that you can either retrofit an older car or get some kind of Bluetooth headset that makes it much safer to yak while driving. These often (usually, now) have the benefit of letting you stream your tunes to the car via Bluetooth as well (and some of the OEM ones even let you send and receive texts verbally) and some of the aftermarket ones will work with your car's audio system to let you hear the other end of the call through its speakers.

You can get these aftermarket things for under $100, so what's keeping you?

The survey also found that one fifth of Canadians who responded hate drivers who tailgate. And who can blame them? Tailgating is just plain ignorant and dangerous sometimes I wonder if the tailgater is merely stupid or trying to intimidate the vehicle ahead. If it's the latter, I can see their point - to a point - when it involves oafs who insist on travelling in the left hand lane of multi-lane highway, slowing down traffic. That lane is for passing and if you aren't passing get the heck out of it!

Now, I can see why some people would prefer the left lane; it's often in better condition than the outside lane, which generally carries more traffic and can therefore have more wear and tear. But don't do it!

This doesn't necessarily apply to multi-lane city streets that are meant to have all lanes used in an effort to keep traffic moving, but it's a good rule of thumb anyway if you're interested in developing good driving habits.

Tailgating trucks is a particular issue and I see it happen all the time. I'm pretty sure that some of these people don't realize that if they're too close behind a truck they're invisible to its driver, which can be dangerous. Rule of thumb? Stay back far enough that you can see the truck's outside mirrors. If you can see them, the driver can see you.

You might be surprised just how far back you have to stay behind a big truck or semi, and that distance leaves plenty of room for ignorant drivers to pull in between the truck and you - but that's their problem, not yours. Give the room and you'll be in the right.

Or just speed up and pass the guy…

Which brings me to the next point: one quarter of all Canadians who responded to the survey admitted that speed is a pet peeve. But it isn't like the powers-that-be want you to think - that speeding is the major problem on today's roads. Rather, 19 per cent of folks are bothered by drivers who poke along, with only seven per cent bothered by the lead footed ones. So the lack of speed is more of an issue among respondents than speed itself.

I can dig this. I do tend to have a lead foot and have found that slow drivers are more of a hazard than the fast ones (who are gone before you know it). The problem with higher speeds is that driving skills are in short supply and the highway speed limits I've experienced are ludicrously low. Today's cars are designed to drive safely at speeds much higher than the governments mandate - as long as the roads are up to snuff (and they often aren't) and the vehicle is under the control of a good driver who's been trained properly through advanced driving and/or racing courses (and who pays attention to the lessons imparted there!).

And that's the rub. Few drivers bother taking such courses, which can be quite expensive, and we all know that many driving schools seem to merely teach up and coming drivers to pass the test, not to drive properly. When I'm Emperor (which seems to be taking a lot longer than I'd anticipated) I'll repeal most laws but enact one requiring drivers to pass such an advanced driving course - at his/her/its own expense - before applying for a license. I have no issues with drivers being re-tested at intervals, either.  

The survey found that at least 60 per cent of Quebec's respondents admitted to speeding, the lowest figure across Canada, with B.C. drivers having the heaviest feet (82 per cent admitted to speeding). This tells me that speed limits are too damn low and governments should raise them immediately to something more relevant in 2015.

Of course that could cut into their revenue generation. After all, it's easier to sit on the roadside and shoot fish in a barrel via your radar gun than it is to actually drive around and look for drivers who may not speed, but who are idiots in other ways.

In my never humble opinion, if the nut behind the wheel knows what he/she/it is doing behind the wheel, how the vehicle behaves under various conditions, and has experienced a few skids and slaloms, the carnage on our highways would mostly take care of itself through enlightened and more confident drivers.

Yeah, I'll hold my breath in anticipation of such a scenario.

Another pet peeve from the AutoTrader survey is drivers who don't signal their intentions. This makes nearly 18 per cent of respondents PO'd and I don't blame them one bit. Look, the drivers around you aren't psychic, so let them know what you're planning to do! More and more cars today offer a "lane change" setting on the signal lights, which will flash (usually) three times if you don't push the signal light stalk all the way up or down, and I've found it a really handy and helpful tool. If you have it, use it!

Other issues the survey noted include people who can't park properly (I think they mean "won't" rather than "can't") and people who ignore traffic/road signs.  

One of the biggest issues to me - and other than the texting/talking point this wasn't covered in the survey information I received - is distracted driving. If you care about driving you won't drive distracted and if you don't care - well, let someone else drive. Nothing is so important that you have to risk your and other lives just so you can read the latest issue of the Daily Local Misinformation Rag.

But what gets me about distracted driving legislation is how one-sided it is. We mere citizens are prohibited by law from "being distracted," yet governments can assault us with messages on their big highway signs (often, if not usually, proclaiming nanny state messages) - stuff they want us to read except that we're driving and shouldn't be reading this stuff!  Meanwhile, the cops and the like can talk on their phones, play with their computers or whatever, with impunity. So these laws are obviously only for the little people and who can blame them for ignoring the law in the face of such a double standard?

All of these concerns could be fixed with the application of a little common sense across the board. Too bad there's so little of it about.

Copyright 2015 Jim Bray

Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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