Are drivers aggressive really?

Phil Fouracre
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Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Phil Fouracre » 22 Aug 2020, 10:56am

Just been thinking about interactions with drivers over a period of time. I’m beginning to think that the majority of ‘incidents’ are through stupidity and lack of coherent thought! Total lack of anticipation, planning etc seems to be the cause of most problems - it’s only when their failings are pointed out to them that you get aggression!
I seem to be noticing this more frequently, is this ‘confirmation bias’? Just this morning I had an incident that prompted me to post this observation.
Cycling back from the local shop along local A road, 30mph limit, slight bend to right and brow of a hill. Large Volvo ‘tank’ rolls up behind me, along the level section, not speeding, pulls out to overtake! We were both approaching the brow, almost side by side now, I was in primary and he was other side of the line, all fine and dandy. I assume that although I could see the car coming the other way at a ‘reasonable pace’, he obviously was completely unaware! As I was just at the point of turning off, to the left, my last image was of them stopped, bumper to bumper, neither looking very happy! Perhaps I should get a camera, it really was a picture to treasure :-)
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

Jdsk
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Jdsk » 22 Aug 2020, 11:15am

IMHO the vast majority of bad interactions are caused by inattentiveness, distraction etc rather than aggression or any other variety of malice. (This is not intended to imply that "accidents" typically have a single cause.)

There used to be a classification of driving behaviour which used "safe", "injudicious", "dissociated active" and "dissociated passive".

Jonathan

thirdcrank
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby thirdcrank » 22 Aug 2020, 1:10pm

I think that generalising about such a large and disparate group as "drivers" is not helpful.

I think it's fair to say that driving can be stressful, particularly in modern traffic conditions. I think also that things that distract drivers are often seen as acceptable when they are not. I think that criticising a stranger about their driving is likely to provoke them unnecessarily, especially if they don't see the critic as qualified to criticise. At the very least, if they are at the wheel, then it's another unacceptable distraction: it's unlikely to improve anything and may make it worse.

From the POV of a vulnerable road user, I know that when fear turns to anger, it's easy to do a bit of spleen venting, but keeping calm has to be the best policy, even though it's often the counsel of perfection.

I've posted before (often) that a high standard of technical driving skills on its own is no measure of fitness to drive; things like length of tether should be measured, particularly for drivers with a crash or two on their scoresheet.

atlas_shrugged
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby atlas_shrugged » 22 Aug 2020, 2:41pm

IMHO Over 90% of drivers are really good.

As for the other 10% a good proportion should be permanently removed from driving:

https://www.elystandard.co.uk/news/shoc ... -1-6803113

For EVER.

Oldjohnw
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Oldjohnw » 22 Aug 2020, 3:04pm

I've always thought that half of all drivers were good, half bad and the rest somewhere between.
John

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby [XAP]Bob » 22 Aug 2020, 3:44pm

The proportion of genuinely aggressive people is small.

That proportion increases with a couple of factors (amongst others I'm sure):
- Alcohol
- Being the "bigger" person in an interaction
- Personal criticism
- Being isolated from any response

Hopefully the first isn't an issue when people are in control of lethal machinery, but the other three certainly apply.

IIRC there was a survey where something like 80% of all motorists who were asked rated themselves as "better than average" drivers.

Whilst there is technically a way for that to be true, I rather suspect it illustrates the disparity between the judgement of one's own, and other's, abilities.
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Jdsk
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Jdsk » 22 Aug 2020, 3:48pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:The proportion of genuinely aggressive people is small.

That proportion increases with a couple of factors (amongst others I'm sure):
- Alcohol
- Being the "bigger" person in an interaction
- Personal criticism
- Being isolated from any response

I don't know about aggression, but for younger drivers the error rate also goes up dramatically when there's a passenger in the car.

Jonathan

thirdcrank
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby thirdcrank » 22 Aug 2020, 4:14pm

Jdsk wrote: ... I don't know about aggression, but for younger drivers the error rate also goes up dramatically when there's a passenger in the car. ...


See "distractions" above. Obviously, showing off is extra dangerous, but FWIW, I don't think enough attention is paid to this form of distraction for drivers of all ages. eg I'm pretty sure that in the far-off days when I had to fill them in, the accident stats forms didn't log information about whether passengers were being carried, except supervisors for provisional licence holders. Unless something's changed, the regulations for public transport ban passengers from talking to the driver when the vehicle is moving. And rightly so.

Some drivers cannot hold a conversation without eye contact. Not concentrating on driving is bad enough but turning to look at somebody for facial feedback is imo an absolute no-no.

axel_knutt
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby axel_knutt » 22 Aug 2020, 4:43pm

Phil Fouracre wrote:I’m beginning to think that the majority of ‘incidents’ are through stupidity and lack of coherent thought!

Impatience and a sense of entitlement, I think.
Large Volvo ‘tank’ rolls up behind me, along the level section, not speeding, pulls out to overtake...

I once had a small hatchback patiently pull in and slow behind me to wait for an oncoming car. I can only assume the car behind that thought 'what the hell's she slowing down for' and pulled out to overtake, because the first thing I was aware of was two cars screeching to a halt bumper to bumper right beside me, whilst I disappeared in a cloud of rubbery smoke.
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Cyril Haearn
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Cyril Haearn » 23 Aug 2020, 7:46am

Right again axel, driving carefully is abnormal, many drivers do not expect it
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millimole
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby millimole » 23 Aug 2020, 9:11am

We remember the incidents, the drivers that do dangerous (or daft) things - but these are the exception. For the one close pass (as an example) we will be passed reasonably by 50 other drivers - this is human nature.

As thirdcrank says - its hard or impossible to generalise about such a disparate group. Drivers have such a huge range of experience, personality traits, and reasons to be behind a wheel. Perhaps this is why we become a touch prickly when others generalise about cyclists.

I was once told (in a management course of all places) never to criticise someone's driving or performance in bed - which seems like a good way of leading a quiet life!
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Audaxing on my Dawes; Riding to work on a Decathlon Hoprider

Jdsk
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Jdsk » 23 Aug 2020, 9:16am

Phil Fouracre wrote:I seem to be noticing this more frequently, is this ‘confirmation bias’?

millimole wrote:We remember the incidents, the drivers that do dangerous (or daft) things - but these are the exception. For the one close pass (as an example) we will be passed reasonably by 50 other drivers - this is human nature.

Yes, enormous effect. But knowing that it's lurking out there goes a long way in reducing the risk of falling into the trap.

Jonathan

PS:
millimole wrote:I was once told (in a management course of all places) never to criticise someone's driving or performance in bed - which seems like a good way of leading a quiet life!

Yes, and I have seen cooking included.

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Syd
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Syd » 23 Aug 2020, 9:47am

My ex was taught unnecessarily aggressive driving by her instructor, as former ambulance driver who seemed to have forgotten he no longer had blue lights and a siren.

It took her a few years after passing her test to calm it down a bit.

Phil Fouracre
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby Phil Fouracre » 23 Aug 2020, 1:28pm

thirdcrank wrote:I think that generalising about such a large and disparate group as "drivers" is not helpful.

I think it's fair to say that driving can be stressful, particularly in modern traffic conditions. I think also that things that distract drivers are often seen as acceptable when they are not. I think that criticising a stranger about their driving is likely to provoke them unnecessarily, especially if they don't see the critic as qualified to criticise. At the very least, if they are at the wheel, then it's another unacceptable distraction: it's unlikely to improve anything and may make it worse.

From the POV of a vulnerable road user, I know that when fear turns to anger, it's easy to do a bit of spleen venting, but keeping calm has to be the best policy, even though it's often the counsel of perfection.

I've posted before (often) that a high standard of technical driving skills on its own is no measure of fitness to drive; things like length of tether should be measured, particularly for drivers with a crash or two on their scoresheet.


Don’t get me wrong - I wasn’t particularly ‘generalising’. To be honest I’m not really bothered about drivers in general, and have never had that much aggro from them.
My point was that I seem to read reams and reams on various bike forums about nasty aggressive drivers, and just wondered really how true this was! I’ve found overall I’m more entertained by silly errors drivers make, rather than concerned for my safety.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

thirdcrank
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Re: Are drivers aggressive really?

Postby thirdcrank » 23 Aug 2020, 2:35pm

The feeling that some drivers' are aggressive towards cyclists is hardly new. In 2002 the then Road Research Laboratory (now TRL) published the results of research into drivers' perceptions of cyclists. It's still available as a free download

https://trl.co.uk/reports/TRL549

Various conclusions, including this (in 2002, remember)

Enforcement

 The current low level of enforcement of traffic law with regard to both drivers and cyclists should be increased.


That's just one nugget in the midst of some interesting insights into perceptions.

One recommendation was for more research into this subject, which I don't think has happened.