Friends had a wonderful Scalextrix layout. In an age when Fomula 1 racing drivers were household names, we would imagine ourselves as Jackie Stewart racing to a world title.
Of course, there would be moments when loose or faulty connections would mean that the car rolled very gently around the figure-8 course. ‘Courtesy driver,’ we would laugh.
‘Courtesy driver,’ was the description of those whom we perceived as driving steadily and carefully around our country roads. A courtesy driver would anticipate the need to make space for traffic to pass on narrow roads, a courtesy driver would seek to avoid causing unnecessary delays, a courtesy driver would have a keen awareness of road conditions.
A revival of the ways of courtesy drivers would make the experience of travelling by road much more pleasant.
The antithesis of the courtesy driver seems to be the self-obsessed driver, the self-obsessed driver shows little awareness of any driver rather than him or herself.
The self-obsessed driver is the one who insists on hanging back in a slow moving line of traffic, then accelerating to close the gap and get through the traffic lights just before they turn red, leaving all those who have had the misfortune to be behind him to wait for the next change in the lights.
The self-obsessed driver is the driver who regards lane markings as only applicable to others and instead of joining the lane to go left, continues in the lane going straight on, only to try to cut into the left lane at the last second, holding up everyone who has followed the markings.
The self-obsessed driver regards the middle lane of the motorway as a personal preserve, coming out of a slip road, disdaining the inside lane, and sitting in the middle of the carriageway forcing everyone moving more quickly to move into the outside lane.
The self-obsessed driver seems least aware when driving on country roads, finding themselves behind a tractor or similar agricultural vehicle, they will linger just behind, not allowing others to overtake them and then the slow moving vehicle, nor being prepared to overtake the slow moving vehicle themselves and so allow others the chance also to do so.
Perhaps the self-obsessed driver is a creation in the mind of a grumpy old git who drives forty miles each way, going to and from work. Perhaps the grumpy old git has a lack of empathy for his fellow road users. All the same, it would be nice to encounter a few more courtesy drivers.