Fri | Aug 14, 2020

Coping with good manners

Published:Sunday | June 28, 2020 | 12:15 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor

There is always a lane for courtesy on our roads. Courtesy, according to the MacMillan dictionary, means “polite behaviour”. Mohandas Kaaramchand (Mahatma) Gandhi once said: “All the education young men receive will be in vain if they do not learn good manners.” We could probably count the number of times that we have witnessed drivers speeding, tailgating, and weaving in and out of traffic. Some make unsafe lane changes, running red lights or stop signs, overtaking around a corner, and honking the horn to intimidate others drivers or express anger – a taste of bad road manners.

Good manners are like elements such as cobalt, molybdenum, and boron. Although mere traces of these appear in our food, they are absolutely important to our health. They are like the oil and grease that keep machinery running smoothly. Good road manners make life pleasurable.

There are motorists who speed because they are in a hurry. They use bad judgement and engage in risky behaviour without causing any unseeming harm. However, this cannot be the norm.

For the most part, displaying good manners is simply a matter of applying basic driving principles. A good driver is not hasty to take risks and therefore has no need to voluntaringly confront danger.

“Driving is essentially an activity of the mind, and our bodies are important only in that they translate the impulses of our thoughts as we meet and attempt to solve the challenges of the road.” says Dr. Andrew Burton.

“The drudgery, the fear, the urge to command attention behind the wheel should disappear to be replaced with a healthy respect for the passenger automobile and the skill involved in controlling it efficiently and safely.”

Dr James Leon, psychologist and noted aggressive-driving expert, says that automobiles can foster feelings of power on the roads, a kind of feeling that says a race is on to win.


1 The motorist driving in the correct lane.

2 Avoiding eye contact, keeping one’s eyes on the road.

3 Allowing the tailgater to pass.

4 Showing respect for other road users while applying the horn sparingly.

5 Not blocking a lane unnecessarily.

6 Keeping away from the erratic driver.

7 Leaving adequate space to pull away from the vehicle in front.

8 Driving at a safe social-following distance.

9 Avoiding showing a reaction to an aggressive driver.

10 Using high beams appropriately and apologising if one did something unintentional or wrong.

There was once a book I read that spoke of a bumper sticker that was placed on cars that drew the attention of many motorists. It read: “Practise random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” This is an effective way to get in touch with the joy of living.

Often, a single act of kindness sets a series of acts in motion.

“There is no prescription for how to practise acts of kindness and good manners on the roadway. It comes from the heart,” says the Rev Dr Wayneford McFarlane.

Random kindness and good manners bring great commitment into a driver’s life. It rewards the motorist with positive feelings combined with service, kindness, and love.