Courtesy by a driver requires awareness and skill. It often implies an impromptu adjustment of rules to be extra nice to another driver; this is not recommended. It can be high risk because other traffic in the vicinity will not be expecting it. It's usually safer and certainly more predictable to do things according to expectations, that is, the rules.
Courtesy is many small things and always means not annoying or intimidating anyone else. It's working fluidly in a traffic flow, sharing the road with as little disruption as possible. We all know a lack of courtesy when we see it.
Courtesy requires thoughtfulness and an awareness of other drivers' circumstances. For example, when an oncoming car needs to pass a cyclist, if it's practical, provide more room by moving left. Timely and accurate signalling, logical road position when turning, and appropriate speed allows others to read and accommodate your intentions. Being predictable is courteous. Unpredictable driving expects a lot from others; it's an ingredient in the majority of crashes.
Wait at a red light, provide space for someone wanting to leave a parking space, rather than just queuing in the way. No time will be lost. Queuing across commercial entrances and exits saves no time. Leave gaps. When waiting beside a car that's turning left at an intersection or roundabout, your large 4WD will block the other driver's view of the approaching traffic. If you can see, waiting back a bit will allow everything to move more quickly. When parking your car at the end of a parking row, place it right up to the end post or line, so others have maximum space.
Tailgating is the most common mistake made by drivers. It displays incompetence and a lack of courtesy for all to see. It's discourteous because the driver in front has fewer options in an emergency. Firm braking is not available. The solution when being tailgated is to drive more slowly because the space needs to be somewhere. A three-second gap in town might seem excessive, but in an emergency, more than a third of it will be gone before your car begins losing speed - more if you were accelerating or not paying attention.
Courtesy means accommodating a variety of skill levels. Like everything else, driving is something that people have varying aptitudes for. Courteous driving has no ego, is patient, and is situationally aware. Courteous driving is responsible for its own safety, rather than relying on others to get out of the way. It actively reduces collision risk, regardless of who might be legally at fault.
- Bruce Harper
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