Until the 1990s, 4WDs were light trucks that only country people bought, for bush bashing and traversing floodwaters. When 4WDs exploded into the urban market, they soon started to look different, with less body armour, more “pretty curves”, and extra seats for families. With such a large vehicle making its way into small city streets, road rage conflicts weren’t inevitable but they did increase.
Overall, 88% of Australians surveyed by insurance provider GIO had been involved in a road rage incident. 72.5% said people had made rude gestures at them. So – here are five 4WD driving etiquette tips that help drivers large and small stay safe and happy on city roads.
In general: Know the road rules
Everyone is supposed to know and follow the road rules, but not everyone does. Here are some basics to be aware of:
- Indicate when merging, when changing lanes, and when on and leaving a roundabout.
- Keep your fog lights off unless there is honest-to-goodness fog blocking your vision.
- Turn your high beam lights off when you are in sight of any other vehicle (the law says within 200 metres).
- Never text and drive or phone and drive. Keep your eyes – and your mind – on the road in front of you. Your crash risk is up to 9 times greater when you use a mobile phone while driving.
- Do not park within 10 metres of an intersection, on the nature strip, within a metre of the car in front or behind, or in a no-standing zone.
Leave enough space
Park with enough space for the cars on either side of you. We know, we know, it’s not your fault that your vehicle is big. So look for a “big” parking space and don’t try to cram yourself into a small one. If you don’t get in straight the first time, pull out and correct it.
Another pet peeve with Aussies was when 4WDs take up the entire parking space outside a house instead of moving forward so that another car can park behind them.
When you pull up next to someone at a T-junction, be aware that they probably can’t see you. Hang back as much as you safely can. Otherwise, they’ll be stuck waiting until you’re gone before they can see clearly to make their turn.
Don’t weave between lanes
Unnecessary weaving is one of the highest causes of road rage in Australia. You might think you’re shaving 30 seconds off your commute (well done…?) but nobody else will appreciate your “me first” attitude, and you are actually increasing your risk of an accidental crash.
Say thanks – remember the wave
If someone lets you merge in front of them, wave your hand in front of your rear view mirror so they can see it. This means “thank you” and it can defuse a lot of tension and resentment during a crowded morning commute.
No tailgating allowed
4WDers can sometimes think that because they’re higher and can see more, they should be allowed to drive closer to the car in front. 57% of Aussies surveyed by GIO said they had been tailgated during a road rage incident.
Tailgating is illegal because it decreases your safe braking space and increases your chance of a smash-up. On top of that, it makes people nervous and frustrated, leading to more road rage. At all times, you should drive a full 3 seconds behind the vehicle in front – and further behind in bad conditions.
If you accidentally scrape, intentionally leave a note
Let’s face it, 4WDs are huge, and accidents do happen if you’re not used to driving a vehicle that wide or long. 7% of Australians we surveyed in 2014 said they had hit a parked car and left the scene without leaving their contact details. But it is not just a moral imperative to fess up – it’s the law.
City driving can be stressful at the best of times – but a little bit of courtesy can be a great way to brighten the mood.