How to be a kinder driver

How to be kinder on the road

While driving can be a wonderfully relaxing and enjoyable experience, it can also be horribly stressful and, at times, incredibly frustrating. It is the less enjoyable moments that can cause us to lose concentration and act in haste; facilitating dangerous driving scenarios that are absolutely avoidable. Here are some scenarios to consider this World Kindness Day.

We want to dissect five all-too common scenarios for drivers that are known to cause anger and frustration. We want to acknowledge the negativity created by such occurrences and to propose alternative, kinder ways of dealing with them. Not just for one day, but for every time we are out on the road. 

Happy driver

1) Let people merge

We’ve all been there: you’re sat waiting to merge into a queue of slow-moving traffic but no one will let you out. Naturally, we’ve also all been the driver with the option to let someone merge into traffic, or not.

Although the thought of having an extra car ahead of us, adding to the seemingly endless traffic queue, may not seem productive, it is in fact likely to have very little difference on our drive time. Instead, if every driver in the queue let one person out, everyone could get to their destination quicker. More importantly, letting someone merge safely prevents drivers needing to force themselves out and take unnecessary risks in doing so. 

It is, however, essential to ensure that it is completely safe to gesture another vehicle out. Always consider the road speed of following vehicles and ensure no one is overtaking or oncoming who wouldn't be able to anticipate the move. Never indicate for someone to merge without checking your complete surroundings and never merge yourself solely on the gesture of another driver.


2) Say thank you

As with any act of kindness in our everyday lives, a simple 'thank you' in return goes a long way. 

Whether a driver has given way to let you merge, has let you have the last available parking space or has left an access gap in queuing traffic, a quick acknowledgment will be greatly appreciated. It is also likely, in turn, to encourage a chain reaction of more considerate driving.

How you choose to express your gratitude will depend on the situation but failing to do so can cause driving frustrations of its own.

thank you

3) Be patient with slower road users

Whether it is a learner driver, bus, tractor, lorry or cyclist, we share our roads with many users who are likely to travel at a slower pace than we would like. It is all too easy in these scenarios to communicate our frustration by driving aggressively; whether getting too close (tailgating) or even swerving beyond our lane to assess overtaking opportunities.

It goes without saying that this behaviour will not help you achieve your aim of urging the other party to go faster. Instead, it puts you all in danger and is likely to slow the pace further as the added pressure on the leading driver will cause stress of its own.

The kinder and safer solution when faced with a vehicle travelling slower than you is to stick to the appropriate stopping distances and only to overtake when there is plenty of space and time to do so. Don’t rush yourself or others on the road, no matter where you are or where you’re trying to get to.

Our top tip is to leave extra time for your journey. If you have the luxury of time on your side, slower traffic will be less of a concern. Therefore, your own frustrations and any potential misjudgements stemming from this can be minimised.


4) Be quick when refuelling

Filling up at the pump is a necessity for us all. It can be a chore at the best of times but particularly so during busy periods as queues can mount quickly. 

It depends on the size of your tank, but on average it should take no longer than 3 - 4 minutes to fill up with either petrol or diesel. A lot of forecourts now offer pay at pump services but many of us still prefer to pay in person; neither of which should take longer than a few minutes assuming average service. 

It is knowing how quick an efficient refuel can be that amplifies frustrations when the process is prolonged unnecessarily. Watching the driver at the pump stop for a chat, check their phone or to buy a boot-load of snacks is understandably infuriating for those waiting behind. 

If you do need to make use of the respite from driving, be kind to yourself and others by pulling into a parking space. There you can safely take your break and won't be holding anyone up. 

fuel station

5) Don't queue jump in traffic

Traffic is queuing on the inside lane towards your turning but the right-hand lane is moving freely. What do you do?

Get into lane as soon as possible and avoid the temptation to bypass the queue and force your way in at the head of the line. Be kind to the drivers who have been queuing already and patiently wait your turn. Furthermore, if someone has jumped the queue and is waiting to rejoin, be kind to the traffic they may now be holding up by letting them in ahead of you. 

Queue jumping is sometimes an unavoidable accident, especially when you don't know the road layout. But is, wherever possible, something to be avoided.

Never has the saying "treat others as you wish to be treated" held more true than on our roads. Making a conscious effort to be a kinder driver will not only make our roads a safer and more enjoyable place to be, but might even just make someone’s day.


For other ways to be kind whilst driving, why not take a look at our favourite low emission cars for 2020.