Thursday, 5 October 2017
Getting Your Priorities Right
"It's my right-of-way you idiot" or words to that effect are often voiced by a driver who believes that the driver of the on-coming vehicle should have given way - but is the angry driver correct to claim it's his right-of-way?
Let's look at what the Highway Code says;
"The rules in do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they advise you when you should give way to others. Always give way if it can help to avoid an incident."
That's pretty clear advice right? Then why is it that many drivers believe they have the right to force another driver to swerve or stop in any circumstance just because the obstruction is not on their side of the road?
I believe that this is largely down to what they have been told by an influential person during their learning to drive process. This person passes on their own received wisdom or misguided theories which in turn goes unchallenged, resulting in a whole load of aggressive, obnoxious drivers.
It obviously makes good sense to give way to any oncoming vehicle, regardless of which side of the road they happen to be on when faced with the prospect of either crashing into a parked vehicle or causing an head-on crash with the oncoming vehicle. It's a no-brainer!
If you compare the way two drivers deal with one another on a two-way single-tracked road with how they deal with one another on a wide two-way road with obstructions, the mindset is often totally different. Cooperation is easier to come by on the single-tracked road but equally required in both situations and yet you often meet an oncoming driver who simply drives straight at you regardless of the fact that you are most of the way through a long channel of parked vehicles, with no place to wait safely. I've experienced this myself, where a taxi driver insisted that it was her right-of-way and that I should reverse 12 car lengths when she'd had plenty of space and time to stop before entering the channel. She would have had to reverse 1 car length. The stereo-type became a reality.
Priority is based on safety.
Who goes first isn't based simply on which side of the road the obstruction is on, it's based the safest option in every changing situation. Whether it be in a meeting situation or a junction, including traffic light controlled junctions (Green doesn't mean GO! it means go, if it's safe to go!).
The road is a shared space and especially with today's busy driving conditions, we need to work together to make safety work.
With an obstruction on our side of the road we generally have three options when encountering an oncoming vehicle:
1) Keep going because we can safely pass the obstruction and get back onto our side well before the oncoming vehicle gets there.
2) Slow down and arrive at the obstruction after the oncoming vehicle has passed.
3) Stop and wait until the oncoming vehicle has passed.
The key to surviving is - Don't expect the oncoming driver to do the right thing.
Choosing the correct option relies on you being aware of the situation well in advance, anticipating the approach of oncoming vehicles and planning your actions in good time in order to avoid any sudden changes of speed or direction.
There's no such thing as "my right-of-way" so be prepared to give-way.