i Editor's Letter: Our road manners


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The Independent Online


My heart goes out to all the loved ones of those killed or seriously hurt in the horrific M5 crash – and, of course, the survivors themselves. Its scale has jolted us all out of the notion that such accidents were a thing of the past.

I had already been thinking about accidents. On my way to work I went past one of those police accident boards by the side of the road, asking for witnesses to a daytime fatality. Daylight, not a major junction, not even that tricky a corner. On a nearby lamppost was the familiar small bunch of flowers in tribute. So poignant.

I catch a bus to work. The risks other road users take to cut in front of, or pull out ahead of, the bus are shocking. Please do not even start me on cyclists. This isn’t the time to berate bad drivers — we do not yet know the cause of the M5 crash. But, it might be time to take stock of our road manners, and even reassess how we drive. People can turn into monsters behind the wheel. The f-ing and c-ing, the screaming “plonker” or worse, and giving the finger and horn bear no relation to what many are like at any other time. (Some people are just plain bullies of course.) What is it that sparks such aggression? It can’t just be time? Those three extra seconds can’t make a difference to the driver’s life. Can they?

Try this: let anyone who wants to, cut in front of you; let anyone who needs to, cross that road before you; you could even try letting the bus go first, and slowing down for the cyclist. Let’s try a little more civility towards each other on the roads as a first step. It might not stop horror crashes like that on the M5, but it might just lead to fewer sad signs by the side of the road.