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5 Types of Driver You'll Encounter on the Road

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Road accidents are common in Australia. Based on the latest data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), there were 1,195 road crash deaths in 2019. Although the fatalities have decreased against the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 baseline of 1,427 deaths, hospitalised injuries have risen.

Quick Stats:

- 1,195 people have died in road-related deaths in 2019
- 39,330 motorists and passengers suffered hospitalised injuries in 2017
- Two-thirds of road deaths occur in regional and remote areas while one third occurring in a major city area.
- The rate of fatalities increases as remoteness increases (approximately double that of regional areas and ten times that for major cities)

This data only goes to show that road travel, although inevitable, has always been risky. One mishap can result in accidents that may claim the lives of several persons on the spot. Hence, it is very important to practice safe and responsible driving at all times.

When driving frequently on the highway, you can observe patterns in driving characteristics. Learn how to identify the types of driver so you'll know which ones to avoid and which ones to emulate:

The Distracted Motorists

These are the multitaskers who drive while talking on their phone, putting on lipstick, or doing other things that keep them from focusing on the road ahead. Driving for these people has usually become part of a daily, possibly monotonous or chaotic routine that they think it is not a big deal to do other things besides driving for “just a few minutes” while on their way to work, school, or any other familiar destination.

The problem is that while multitasking is possible, it is not safe. There have been so many road accidents involving a distracted driver hitting pedestrians or bumping onto roadway blockages or other cars.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of collisions and not speeding. Not a few of these accidents have resulted in the loss of lives and property.

Many laws are introduced to discourage distracted driving. In Australia, using mobile phones while driving is illegal unless the device is securely affixed to the vehicle, the phone can be used without being held by the hand, and while waiting at traffic lights. Otherwise, the distracted motorists are given a Traffic Infringement Notice and fined.

When you chance upon a distracted driver on the road, keep away from them. If you believe you can talk them out of the bad habit, politely do so.

The Reckless Speeders

These people are undoubtedly skilled in driving. However, their overconfidence often leads them to become reckless drivers. They love to drive fast, often unbothered by the speed limits and the switching of lanes just to get ahead of the other cars on the road.

The problem is that speeding usually leads to accidents because anything can happen in a split-second on the road. When they drive fast and an animal or a confused person crosses the road, a crash is bound to happen. The faster the driving, the greater the impact of the collision.

Around 70% of fatal crashes on roadways involve a vehicle with speed limits of 40 mph in urban areas while approximately 47% occur in rural roadways with a speed limit between 45 and 50 mph.

Although reckless speeders can get annoying and it’s tempting to race them to show your racing skills, they are not worth your life. Avoid driving close to them as much as possible. Besides, a speeding ticket likely awaits them in the near distance.

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The Sloths

The Sloths are the opposite of the speeders. Either they lack adequate driving skills or are simply too careful for their own good, they believe that driving slowly will help them avoid road accidents at all times.

What they fail to realise is that, while it is advisable to slow down in busy areas, wavy streets, wet roads, and unmaintained road sections, it is not appropriate to drive slowly at all times.

On highways, for instance, slow drivers irk many motorists and may cause accidents when frustrated drivers who are anxious to get to school or work try to overtake. This is why those who are driving too slow in high speed lanes are pulled over and ticketed.

It's best not to be a sloth on the road but if you need to drive on the highway and you can't drive fast, move to the slower speed lanes and let the fast drivers go their merry way. If you're driving behind a sloth, make sure the road is clear before overtaking.

The Nervous Newbies

These are the people who may have had a trauma involving driving, unfamiliar with the route or local road rules, or are simply inexperienced that they get intimidated by highway speeds and heavy traffic.

Because they are always hesitant of their driving abilities, they tend to drive at the speed limit or lower. This often results in their car not accelerating enough to merge safely with highway traffic. They also hesitate taking turns, which annoys impatient motorists behind them.

If you share the road with a nervous driver, you better speed up and leave them behind to avoid being a victim of their lack of confidence and panicking tendency. However, do not overtake when the road ahead is not clear, about to narrow, approaching a junction or other hazard warnings.

The Enlightened Ones

Not all drivers you’ll encounter on the road are problematic. There are also sensible and disciplined ones who drive with great focus, substantial driving experience, and appropriate speed. These ideal drivers love to keep their calm behind the wheel, always keeping up with traffic while maintaining a safe distance between cars. They also do not mind letting people in and apologising for any slight inconvenience they might have caused. The roads would have fewer accidents if everyone drives like them.

Of course, the Enlightened Ones have their bad days, too. However, they do not allow stress and negative emotions to influence their driving, choosing to find their inner calm instead of stressing over the riotously rubbish traffic or road incidents that cause unexpected delays.

What would you do when encountering the Enlightened Ones on the road? Watch and learn. Being the good drivers that they are, you won’t have a hard time sharing the road with them in peace. They may also let you out of intersections or let you cut in front of them in traffic if they sense that you're in a hurry. Don't hesitate to give your thank you wave to encourage their good behaviour.

Although the drivers are not always the cause of road accidents, many road-related deaths and injuries can be avoided when the person behind the steering wheel is not only knowledgeable about traffic laws and driving practices but also cares about the safety of others on the road.

Strive to be an enlightened driver at all times. Also, be mindful of other drivers around you. While you cannot control the behaviour of other motorists, you can stay away from those that are likely to cause accidents. Getting auto insurance can also help you cover the costs of collision and other unforeseen road mishaps.

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