Road Rage

Road Rage

When driving, we all get a little road rage at times. We shout at the road, throw our hands up in the air, carry out a monologue of expletives that would make a sailor proud.... this is ok if you are just driving around recreationally, because it may only be once a week that this will happen, and it is soon forgotten as the traffic moves on but when you are driving professionally the opportunity for perpetual road rage is far greater. 

Who wants to go to work and be in a continual state of truck driver road rage? As an HGV Driver your ability to navigate the roads while predicting pedestrians as well as other vehicles and their drivers’ intentions makes you a cut above the rest when it comes to driving skill. You are the elite driving force behind the UK’s logistics and haulage industry and with that comes no small requirement to be on your best game at all times, this can be exhausting especially when some days, everyone around you appears to have lost the ability to drive correctly. 

If you are already having a bad day, feeling a little stressed about making your deliveries in time, battling through endless traffic in peak hours, fighting against the notorious UK weather and navigating road closures, then someone decides to cut you up on a roundabout, pull into the safe space in front of you on a motorway or travel alongside you in your blind spot it is enough to tip you over the edge and truck driver road rage can take hold. 

When other drivers are the causing the issue it makes it difficult to know how anything you could do would change the inevitable, but it’s not about changing other drivers behaviours, it is about changing how you respond and react to those other drivers that is the key. By making active decisions about your approach, your mindset and your own reactions you can start to enjoy a calmer, less frantic and overall, less frustrating day of driving. 

As one of the UK’s leading recruitment specialists for drivers across the U.K we hear about dangerous driving, road rage and the most frustrating things other drivers do on the road all of the time and so we took the opportunity to ask some of our drivers what advice they can give for other truck drivers when faced with the 7 most common and stressful driving situations: 

1. Traffic at a standstill

As a driver you are always looking ahead along the traffic predicting the road and drivers around you so unless the traffic is out of sight you should always be able to see the queue of traffic forming ahead of you. Slow your pace on the approach, settle into your seat, put on the radio, listen to a podcast or an audiobook and allow the time to pass. Frustration is not going to get the traffic moving any faster so you may as well just relax, take the opportunity to look out of the window and appreciate some of the amazing scenery this country has to offer.

Highly rated podcasts for truck drivers:

Audiobooks for those who want to lose themselves in a whole new world while still paying attention to the road:

  • The Long Haul, a truckers tales of life on the road by Finn Murphy.
  • Game of Thrones - George RR Martin. If you have a few hundred hours spare then this series is made for you. 
  • The Stand - Stephen King. A great place to start if you are new to audio books, a great story, long enough to last a good few shifts at 47 hours and full of twists and turns.

2. Being cut up

Other people are always going to behave in ways that are less than ideal, especially when it comes to driving but you can get a feel for who is most likely to cut you up. If you have been observant while driving, you will be aware of the car that is travelling too fast on the offside desperate to get ahead of you before the junction. You will have seen the driver who is unaware of the stopping distance capabilities of a truck because they will have already jumped into the space in front of one of your fellow truck drivers a mile back on the road. It is not possible to change drivers like this, at some point it is likely that they will have a close encounter with a very large HGV that has found its way into the boot of their car, in the meantime, all we can do is predict them, allow enough safety margin for them and remain vigilant enough to avoid them. 

Remember if you had time to shout, swear, beep your horn and wave your hands around, you certainly had time to brake and avoid a collision. 

3. Lane hogging

Rule 264 of the Highway Code states:

“You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slow-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.”

Lane hogging refers to those who remain in the middle or outer lane even when the left-hand lanes are clear and there is no reason to do so. 

If you think about it, pedestrians do this, have you been in the town centre on a Saturday and noticed groups that will walk 4 people across, other people try to manoeuvre around them, trying to slip through a small space down the inside, they slam on the brackets and awkwardly shuffle behind a little too close for comfort waiting for an opportunity to slip by and get on with their day. So, if people do this while walking when they are in full control of their limbs with plenty of time to notice the forming queue of frustrated pedestrian traffic behind them, the chances of them being any more observant while driving is extremely slim. 

Now if we bring road rage into the same scenario, can you imagine pedestrians everywhere making beeping noises, shouting expletives and resorting to manic arm and hand gestures outside Primark? Sounds ridiculous right.... so why do we do it in a vehicle?

Riding the bumper of the lane hogging car ahead, trying to persuade them into moving over by flashing lights and beeping horns only serves to panic the careless driver making the potential for a dangerous mistake all the more likely. The only way to solve this is to slow your pace, give them lots of room and wait for the opportunity to pass the vehicle safely.

The RAC released a post on this topic detailing the law regarding lane hogging and some advice on what to do if you find yourself on a road with a lane hogging driver.

An important takeaway on lane hogging- don't allow yourself to become frustrated. Rely on your own elite driving skills to overcome the situation, keep your distance, be patient and you will soon be on your way.

4. No indication from other drivers

As an experienced driver you can sometimes predict what people are planning to do by their road positioning regardless of their indicator use (or lack thereof) but if there is not clear give away then the best approach is always to hang back and give other road users plenty of space. If in doubt, always assume that they will do something unexpected and you will very rarely be caught out.
There is a thread in the Piston heads forum on the topic of predicting the behaviour of other road users, a fun post in particular on this thread is from Jchesh on 14th February listing some of their observations, how many of these have you noticed too?
On the same forum another discussion took place regarding the overtaking of another vehicle and if the use of indicators could have added to or alleviated this particular dangerous situation. It would seem that there is still quite a bit of confusion over the correct use of indicators in given situations so always go with caution and expect the unexpected.

5. Dangerous driving

Carelessness, recklessness and purposeful risk taking, there are a few drivers out there that believe this is the correct way to operate a vehicle. Despite the stereotypical assumption of young, new drivers being the worst culprits, studies show that there no hard and fast rule for being the most reckless of drivers. Young or old, successful and busy or free and easy, in a rush or just out for fun; dangerous driving regardless of who or why is a major concern for road users everywhere. An old but still good post from The Guardian about the neuroscience and psychology behind dangerous driving is a fascinating read. 

All you can do as a professional driver is trust your experience, remain calm and expect the unexpected. Your job is to drive your vehicle to the best of your ability, keeping your own and other road user’s safety in mind at all times. Your job is not to stop someone from driving dangerously, or to impede their progress so just move out of the way, let them pass and carry on with your day as though they never existed.

The Safe Driving for Life site has a heap of information about what to do in situations involving dangerous, reckless and inexperienced drivers.

6. Hazardous weather conditions

Rain, wind, sleet, snow, ice they are all a driver’s worst nightmare whether you are driving for business or pleasure but as a professional driver you can’t just choose not to travel. 

Making sure everyone gets home safely at the end of the day is the ultimate goal so take it easy and concentrate on your road safety over your destination and time constrictions. 

Your vehicle is capable of doing slower speeds, not everything needs to be done at breakneck speed so just ease off the gas a little and slowly but surely you will reach your destination.

7. Closure of roads critical to your preferred route

Finding your route is closed or that the traffic is at a standstill when it is too late to detour is not ideal, so by looking ahead, planning your route and having an alternative route in place as a backup you can avoid the worst scenario of being stuck on a motorway in tail backs with no way off. Travel reports on the radio are a good option but also using sites such as these can help you to work out how your route is affected by closures in advance: 

Driving communities and forums are a great source of information for everything truck driving related as other drivers will often post live information about industry changes, closures, accidents or delays and raise questions or topics that you can contribute to.

Top 10 tips for staying calm while driving

  1. Be vigilant to your surroundings.
  2. Anticipate other drivers’ behaviours & expect the unexpected.
  3. Allow people plenty of space.
  4. Accept that the problem is often with them not you.
  5. Focus on maintaining your own excellent driving standards.
  6. Take deep breaths.
  7. Eat good, wholesome foods to keep your energy up and tiredness at bay.
  8. Practice mindful positivity.
  9. Listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks to occupy your mind.
  10. Get on with your journey and arrive safely at your destination.