We talk about a “shared system” on our roads but many users struggle to shift their attitudes between modes. For most roads users we are all a pedestrian, often a driver, and sometimes a cyclist. As we move from one to another, quite often an understanding of the other is forgotten and our behaviours as a driver do not fit that of the cyclist we were just moments ago.

A change in mode and we shift tribes entirely forgetting that just moments ago we were a pedestrian. If a different mode of users impacts us, we get angry, that extra 5 seconds suddenly really matters.

Leaving Point A in the rush to get on my way, music is going, phone connected so I can chat whilst driving. Pulling out and great start, why can’t the postie have seen me and waited!!!

Near miss but on my way. Next time the postie will see me.

A pedestrian walks across the road at an intersection I am entering, entirely legal – how dare they!!!! I did have to slam on my brakes as I nearly missed them in my rush – damn A-pillar – but the pedestrian should have waited for me.

Why when we go onto the road system is our time suddenly so much more precious?

That impatience to get from point A to point B – I need to rush to get there. Then heaven forbid I stumble across road works on my journey. First it was the postie, then a pedestrian, now road workers. This trip is going to hell!!! Speed limit is 40, I will push the limit, in fact I will ignore the limit. Everyone else is.

Sadly, that road worker is among the unrecognised vulnerable road user. If I hit them at 20kmph looking at a serious injury and close to 40kmph and above that is fatal. But I have to get to point B. That is my primary purpose for driving on the road.

Then I keep changing lanes into the faster one but at every light that same Holden Colorado pulls in next to me and they have never changed lanes.

There is a gap in front of truck just for me, score, that will finally get me in front of that Holden. Why is that truck driver flashing me – can’t they see me???

There goes a cyclist down the side lane on the highway whilst I am stuck in traffic. They should have to pay rego!!

The road is against me, other drivers have no idea, I can feel the pressure building inside of me as I become more emotional, increasing my crash risk 10-fold. But a few honks and yells at other road users releases some of the rage.

Finally, I have arrived and parked and can take the kids inside and drop them off. I’m going to walk across the road to grab a coffee to kill some time – why are the cars honking at me I have right of way…

Perhaps a better approach is to enjoy the drive. Develop a few strategies to make the drive easier as we all use the road as part of our daily activities and should therefore share the responsibility for road safety.

When I drive, I have my podcasts or a playlist playing, vehicle working with active AEB and enjoy the moment. I prefer to be curious rather than angry or impatient of others behaviours. I want to reach my destination safely – does a few minutes really matter!!!

What do others do?

Written by Jerome Carslake, Manager of NRSPP

  1. William A. Downey says:

    Couple of things:
    1. As a lifelong cycling commuter, I’ve been astonished so may times at the determination of drivers to put my life at very high risk for the sake of not slowing for a couple of moments to pass me after an opposing vehicle goes by. So, your point is a very good one, both from my experience and from what we routinely see in the research.

    2. However, as a motorycyclist instructor, another way I have of talking about the “one road user” approach is this: what puts motorcyclists at very high levels of risk is not necessarily their undertaking of a different attitude/behaviour set when in this mode, but rather their importation of exactly the same high risk habits etc. as they have when driving cars and trucks. People are, by and large, blind to the significant risks that they take every day, and shielded for the most part from outcomes by the relative safety of the larger vehicle (which is a good thing, AEB etc like you say). However, they then go home, hop on the motorcycle, and make precisely the same mistakes, and then, as you say, amplify them with a recreational mindset (motorcycle as toy), so the vehicle in this case rarely is equipped with safety features that it could have been. When that all goes wrong, it goes very very wrong. But we then have a tendency to blame the driver of the other vehicle, without full and proper consideration of the significant variables attendant on the motorcyclist as a road user in motor vehicle mode, not cyclist mode.

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