Episode 8 - What drives you crazy on the road?

We reveal the top on-road behaviours which are driving Queenslanders crazy. What will be number 1?

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We reveal the top on-road behaviours which are driving Queenslanders crazy. What will be number 1?


  • Courier-Mail Columnist Belinda Seeney.
  • RACQ Motoring Advice Manager Joel Tucker.
  • RACQ Education Officer Dave Webber.


You're listening, you're listening to RACQ Living.

Anthony Frangi: Hello and welcome to the RACQ Living Podcast. I'm Anthony Frangi. We all hate bad drivers, whether it's sending text messages behind the wheel, changing lanes without notice, or displaying aggressive behaviour. But what would you say is the most annoying road behaviour? The RACQ regularly publishes the Top 10 Most Annoying On-Road Behaviours as voted by you. And that's the topic of today's podcast.

Anthony Frangi: Joining our panel is Courier-Mail Columnist Belinda Seeney, RACQ Motoring Advice Manager Joel Tucker, and RACQ Education Officer Dave Webber. Welcome everyone.

Belinda Seeney: Pleasure to be here.

Dave Webber: Thanks for having us.

Anthony Frangi: What drives you crazy on the roads? Belinda.

Belinda Seeney: Merging is the bane of my existence when I'm out on the roads. It seems to me that people think that once they're in a certain lane, they have ownership of that lane. And there is no way, it is a sign of defeat if they let somebody in, in front of them. I'm coming in from wherever and it's not my fault I'm in that lane, I've been funnelled into this lane from whatever other choices I've made, and I need to be over one, please just let me in. It's not a race, you're not going to get there any faster because you're one car in front me. Just let me merge in-

Anthony Frangi: That's all you're asking-

Belinda Seeney: Just take turns, be polite-

Anthony Frangi: Be polite.

Belinda Seeney: You'll get a little friendly wave from me when you let me in. Come on surely that would be enough.

Anthony Frangi: Joel, what about you? What peeves you on the road?

Joel Tucker: A lot of things, yeah having worked in road safety for a lot of years. Having to deal with the road rules and member, member enquiries about road rules, I sort of pick up on a lot of things out there on the roads that aren't quite right. For me, though personally it's not indicating.

Anthony Frangi: How can someone not indicate? Like where did you go to driving school? Isn't it something that's kind of just programmed into our brain that when we change lanes that we are indicating?

Dave Webber: I find it's often the first thing that people forget to do. They forget that they are sharing the road with other people and that they're like "I want to get in this," often they have checked to make sure that the lane's clear so they don't feel the need to indicate but it's often the first habit that gets forgotten or set aside.

Anthony Frangi: So, is that your pet peeve Dave or you got one other?

Dave Webber: No, maybe this is the environmentalist in me coming out but it's litter. In all honesty, the cheeky cigarette butt or the minty wrapper that gets thrown out. It's just that little littering that they just throw it out, it just really grinds my gears. I just want to walk over and pick it up and throw it back in the car but I don't, but-

Joel Tucker: On that topic of cigarette butts, one time I was stuck in traffic coming into Brisbane from the Sunshine Coast, someone had thrown a cigarette butt out the side view and it got stuck in the grill of my car, and it was still lit and so all the smoke was coming through the aircon.

Anthony Frangi: Because it was still lit.

Joel Tucker: Yeah, so I reckoned I coughed nearly a whole cigarette out just cause it ended up stuck in the grill of the car.

Belinda Seeney: Was it moving slow enough that you could get out and flick it back in to their car?

Joel Tucker: I didn't try to, I just put it on recirculate so I wasn't getting the air from the outside, but yeah that was real good.

Dave Webber: That was where your kids picked up that habit I guess?

Anthony Frangi: Well, let's look at the top 10 frustrating behaviours. Some may or may not surprise you depending, let's walk through them. Number 10 is motorists who push in when changing lanes. Belinda.

Belinda Seeney: No, it's the difference between pushing in and merging. So merging, it's just when you need to be in that other lane, there's two lanes going into one, just show a bit of courtesy. It's when somebody comes, and I understand this, when they tear up the outside lane or they actually come out of their lane, move around just to go up one or two spaces. It's just have a little bit of patience, it's fine. But yes, I understand the pushing in, but I think that's very different to just standard merging.

Dave Webber: I'm glad that it made the list, because for me I think that comes down to a case of they haven't planned their commute. They found themselves in the wrong lane, suddenly it's just occurred to them that they need to be 3 lanes over and so they just do what they need to do to get the turn off they need to take. So that's definitely frustrating when you see that happen because it's all, we got to be thinking ahead and often times we've travelled these streets regularly, you know that your turn's coming up, and it's just concentrating, being aware and planning your commute, get in the lane that you need to be in.

Belinda Seeney: I think I'm a bit more forgiving when it comes to someone who doesn't realise that they need to be a lane over and you can see they're very apologetic and waving at you.

Dave Webber: When you see Victoria number plates, you're like, off you go you're welcome.

Belinda Seeney: But it's when you see someone, say three cars behind you pull out, tear down a side lane and then try and re-enter two cars up, you're just "really, why, what have you done?"

Joel Tucker: A lot of people lack courtesy on the roads. Members are always saying, it'd be great if people were courteous. So when you do the opposite and you try to push in a lot of people take objection to that and so I can understand why it's on the list.

Anthony Frangi: Number 9, motorists who block intersections. This is a pet peeve of many, isn't it. Belinda?

Belinda Seeney: Particularly buses. I think buses are some of the worst offenders. Buses and trucks on this. As somebody who is often driving clogged, suburban streets during peak hour, it's just how I find my commute.

Joel Tucker: When you have a number of vehicles blocking an intersection in one direction or you get a large vehicle block that intersection, when the lights go green for the other directions, they then can't get through, and so it can then potentially in congested conditions become a situation where you have multiple light changes before anyone can go anywhere, and so that would be a major cause of annoyance for a lot of people. But it also is contributing to the traffic congestion that we get around Brisbane, around Queensland, and in other busy areas.

Anthony Frangi: It causes a domino effect too, doesn't it, especially at peak hour, which is not good. Number 8 - motorists who throw litter out of vehicles, Dave.

Dave Webber: Moving up the ladder, bring it up to number one. That's just disrespect and laziness and honestly that's really all that is. There's no reason why you can't just stash that wrapper and deal with it when you get to where you're going so.

Anthony Frangi: I love how a lot of the servos these days you can buy little plastic bags or even little bins and put them in your car, when you get to your destination you just throw them then.

Dave Webber: It's not hard.

Belinda Seeney: Well I've heard this great littering story from a hurried mother who had to take or hurried parents who had to take small children from Brisbane to Sydney. So they had a giant packet of snakes in the car, those lolly snakes and they turned around and said, "Right, if you don't fight, if you don't carry on, you get this entire packet of snakes when we get to Sydney, but for every time you act up you're going to lose one." So of course I think they'd barely made it out the driveway when the kids started fighting so the mother opened the packet rolled the window down and threw a snack out the window. And every time the kids misbehaved she got another snack and quite demonstrably threw one of these lolly snakes out the window and they could see the snakes disappearing and their bounty at the end all disappearing, and so they ended up behaving themselves. So it is littering but it's hilarious.

Dave Webber: Did that also contribute to the great seagull migration that year as well?

Belinda Seeney: Possibly.

Dave Webber: A stream of seagulls following them.

Anthony Frangi: Because somewhere between Brisbane and Sydney are these little lolly snakes still on the side of the road waiting to be picked up by birds.

Belinda Seeney: Yeah, those things don't break down in the digestive system, so I don't think they're doing very well on the side of the road either.

Anthony Frangi: Number 7 in the top ten, motorists who aren't courteous allowing room to merge and change lanes. Again this is the one that you talked about Belinda.

Belinda Seeney: There's general lack of courtesy and these people that think that because they're in a lane they have particular ownership of that lane. And everyone needs to get somewhere, nobody likes being stuck on the roads particularly in peak hour traffic. We've all got somewhere else we'd rather be. But just this lack of courtesy can then very quickly escalate into out-and-out aggression, and when you step back from the situation and think, "really, I got so worked up because one person wanted to get in front of me?" It really sort of there's no perspective, you can't sort of stand back and just say that yes that discourtesy can just so quickly easily escalate into aggression.

Dave Webber: There are actually two very different merging rules and so often times you're frustrated at someone because they're merging wrong, where and they're frustrated because they think they're merging right and it's so that little white dotted line actually does make all of the difference. So it's something, that can be like a knowledge thing that we can all brush up on is I'm being yelled at, I'm being abused because actually I'm doing the wrong thing, I didn't even know. So I do like to say that merging in particular should go hand in hand with courtesy.

Belinda Seeney: So in a nut shell though, what are the two different merging rules then? I'm just curious.

Dave Webber: Real quick, there's two different merging rules for two different situations. High speed and low speed areas. So when you have two lanes and then that white dotted stops and the two lanes continue until they merge into one, the car that finds itself in front gets to legally go first. When that white dotted line changes shape and size and continues all the way to the end, the car that's already in the lane that you're trying to merge into gets to go first, because that situation isn't high speed more dangerous situation. So just two different merging situations so it’s good to know these things when it comes to merging as well, so we figure out, do I speed up and go in or do I slow down and let them in?

Anthony Frangi: Number 6 is motorist who turn from the wrong lane at multilane roundabouts. Now roundabouts are a pet peeve of many.

Dave Webber: Roundabouts in general I think.

Anthony Frangi: Roundabouts in general. Well though is it true that if there are accidents on roundabouts its low impact because people aren't traveling at high speeds.
Joel Tucker: It depends on how big the roundabout is because obviously bigger roundabouts can carry higher speeds, the bigger the diameter. And so, you can still get some fairly severe crashes on roundabouts, but they are designed to reduce the number of conflict points because all the traffic is travelling in a clockwise direction.

Belinda Seeney: I have never had a problem on a roundabout, I think it was one of those things where in my learners test all those many years ago I was just so fearful I was going to get it wrong and the area that I lived in at the time had a lot of roundabouts nearby so I had loads of practice. I knew which lane to be in, when to indicate, when to not, it was just one of those I really sort of nutted in. So, I've never had a problem, I don't approach roundabouts with the same fear that a lot of people do, but it’s just about educating yourself.

Anthony Frangi: The rules governing roundabouts, if you're in a roundabout where there are two lanes and you want to exit left, can you do it from either lane or you have to be on the outside lane?

Dave Webber: You generally you'd be on the outside lane but you want to keep a note of the posted and painted arrows because that will let you know which lane can do what. We do suggest if you are driving in an unfamiliar area that you do stick in that centre lane because you have more options. You can go straight, right, back the way you came, or you can swing all the way around and eventually exit left. But again it comes down to plan your commute. If you've driven this road before plan ahead which lane you need to be in and do a bit of research if you're driving in an unfamiliar area.

Joel Tucker: Yeah I was just going to say the traffic lane arrows are important because they are actually something that we have to obey. They're not just there for information, so as well as being able to tell you which direction you got to travel in. If you disobey a traffic lane arrow including at a roundabout you can receive $104 fine three demerit points on your license as well, so it is a fairly big penalty for disobeying those lane arrows and that is because if you do that you can crash, you can cause a crash if you do that and that's why the penalty is severe.

Anthony Frangi: Motorists displaying aggressive behaviour, blowing their horn, verbal abuse, hand signals. That hasn't happened to any of us, surely not.

Belinda Seeney: It can be truly terrifying when you're on the receiving end of that.

Anthony Frangi: Absolutely it can be!

Belinda Seeney: And I think it really affects you as a driver as well because you might be doing the right thing or you may just be as Dave was saying before, sometimes if you're unfamiliar with the road you might just sort of be, "hang on I need to be over in that lane" you're just a bit of a nervous driver, and then someone blasts the horn or yells out the window at you or speeds up behind you or beside you. I'm more likely to make mistakes if I'm under pressure like that because you can't prepare for it, and that's just a recipe for disaster.

Dave Webber: To me, that kind of comes under the umbrella of road rage. There's something going on where they're stuck in traffic and they're under, could be the stress, time pressure, is it a hot day? They've gone out of their way to cut me off and inconvenience me getting home. And often times too when we shut our car and we lock ourselves in that little metal bubble we forget that the other cars on the road are just people trying to get home after a busy day as well. So there's a lot going on when you're on the receiving end of some road rage like that.

Anthony Frangi: And how much of the topic of road rage are you teaching in schools today?

Dave Webber: Not so much in schools but we do get out and speak to the older drivers, the more mature drivers. And so we do talk about when you're on the receiving end of road rage what to do. Because it is stressful and we have heard stories of people being pursued, these angry drivers go out of their way to-

Anthony Frangi: To follow them.

Dave Webber: Yeah, to follow them and so they don't know what to do. It's quite a stressful situation. So what we say to everyone is that the only control you have over is that space in front of you. You can't control what's happening behind you, that person getting really angry with you so it’s really is best to just slow down, let them pass and go on their merry way.

Anthony Franchi: If you are being pursued what do you do?

Dave Webber: Best thing to do is just to go to your nearest police station and just pull over and park in front, or a public place a shopping centre or pull over where there's people who can help you. But if you know where your local police station is make a beeline for it, park in front and then that angry person by then should have calmed down and driven off.

Anthony Frangi: And maybe take their number.

Dave Webber: Yeah take their number plate if it gets that bad.

Joel Tucker: The research we've had done at RACQ into driver aggression and courtesy and discourtesy and all those things, found basically that there is karma on the roads it seems where if you are more likely to be discourteous or aggressive to other drivers you are more likely to report you suffer from that as well. So basically our advice is to drive the way you expect other people to drive. So be courteous, follow the rules and that should result in more people doing so.

Anthony Frangi: Alright, number four in the top ten is motorists talking or sending text messages on hand held mobile phones. Now this is a very big issue at the moment. Right around the country, I think probably around the world as well, people are really getting quite serious because of the ... I guess because of the statistics that show that there's a lot harm being caused as a result of this. Belinda?

Belinda Seeney: It's dangerous and I have a hands free capability in my car. Everything is voice activated so I don't need to touch my phone, even just being on the phone and speaking to somebody else I know that I'm distracted.

Anthony Frangi: And how many stories have we all shared with friends and family about someone we've seen on the road traveling at 100, 110 checking their phone driving while they're driving?

Belinda Seeney: Because you can see, especially at night you can see the screens lit up.

Dave Webber: One of my favourite stories, my younger brother he's a motorcyclist and what he used to do is that when he would weave through traffic, which motorcyclist can legally do to get to the front. He would pull up beside cars someone checking email, and he would just rap on their window and give them the fright of their life, and they did get a fright because they knew they were caught out doing the wrong thing and then he'd drive off, but it does come down to distracted driving. I think what we're all starting to realize is that whatever you're doing on your phone, whether it's checking an email or sending a message or whatever it is, it's not that important. In that moment, two eyes on the road, two hands on the wheel that is what is most important. Now that our screens permeate every single part of our life you can check that email when you get to where you're going it's not going anywhere. In that moment, two hands on the wheel two eyes on the road, that's what's important.

Joel Tucker: We've done some campaigns about distracted driving. What we know is that using your phone while your driving increases your crash risk by at least four times, because there's many different studies out there on it. But we know that it's a significant contributor to people having crashes, and that's because there's a lot of different types of distractions your phone represents basically all three of them.

Joel Tucker: So you got visual distractions, which is eyes off the road, physical distraction, which is hands off the steering wheel, and cognitive distraction, which is your mind off the driving task similar to what Dave was just saying, and the phone can potentially be all three of those which is why you've got such an elevated crash risk if you use it. People are starting to know about that because of the number of different campaigns that we've had, there's a lot of enforcement around it, it's three points, $391 fine if you get caught using a handheld phone while driving in Queensland and so I think as the community is becoming more aware of it as an issue, when they do see people doing the wrong thing they got more a problem with it.

Anthony Frangi: Number three, motorists who increase their speed when you try to overtake them.

Belinda Seeney: I love the phrase that Dave used just before, he talked about once you're in the car you're inside this little metal bubble and it's sort of like you lose sight of what's happening outside it. And I think that's what it is, people feel like they're in a race or they have this ownership they need to be somewhere. And it's just as soon as they see somebody who wants to get in front of them, "how dare they?", so they speed up and not let them through. It's ridiculous, I think it can be very dangerous particularly when you're on a highway and you've got a car that's sitting on say maybe 80 kilometres, you get to one of those overtaking lanes you go to overtake and all of a sudden they speed up, they don't want you to overtake, "Why?"

Anthony Frangi: Why?

Belinda Seeney: Why?

Joel Tucker: One of the theories is that, because the road gets wider at those situations where an extra lane is introduced to overtake people feel safer and so they increase their speed. So, they might not even be aware that you're trying to overtake them, they just feel like they're safer in that situation so they increase speed. Because where you introduce an overtaking lane usually has good visibility and things as well and so those things might in theory lead to people speeding up in that situation. However, where it becomes illegal is where you've got someone who has to cross to the other side of the road to overtake, so somewhere overtaking is permitted but there's not an overtaking lane or an additional lane to do it and if someone speeds up in that situation, that's actually against the law.

Anthony Frangi: If you're overtaking legally and, as Belinda mentioned, they start to speed up what's the best thing and the safest thing to do, just to pull back?

Dave Webber: Let them do what they feel they need to do and just worry about keeping in control of your vehicle and then getting into the lane that you want to get into in a safe and timely manner. It's not a race, your pride is not on the line it's just about getting to where you're going safely.

Anthony Frangi: Okay, number two motorists who incorrectly use indicators such as indicating too late or failing to indicate at all. Now who mentioned the indication?

Belinda Seeney: That was Joel.

Anthony Frangi: That was Joel, you mentioned that as one of your pet peeves.

Joel Tucker: Yeah, that's right. As I said earlier I think that's one where people know that indicators are a communication tool and so if you don't tell people what you're doing and you do something it's likely to be unexpected then and people don't appreciate having unexpected things happen in front of them on the road.

Anthony Frangi: And so many of the new cars today, it’s not just one indicator light. Sometimes there's four or five on the car.

Belinda Seeney: They're lit up like a Christmas tree as soon as you hit the indicator.

Anthony Frangi: You can't miss them

Belinda Seeney: The lack of indication is dangerous but the light indication is what really gets to me. You're in a lane and there's a potential to say turn right but both lanes also go forward and then the car in front of you just stops and you sitting there going, "what's going on?" Then they indicate, I'll actually know that's where I need to be, over there. So you're then stuck behind this other car or the ones that indicate as their turning so they don't indicate to let you know that their turning, that they're about to, or that they're doing it, so like-

Anthony Frangi: It's an afterthought. By the way.

Belinda Seeney: Exactly, it’s kind of like, "look what I've just done, did you catch that?"

Joel Tucker: There's an old driver training word for that and it’s not an indicator at that point it's a “confirmicator”.

Anthony Frangi: And the number one frustrating behaviour is drivers who follow too closely or tailgating.

Dave Webber: Yeah you just don't feel safe and then if you're breaking suddenly then you're worried about the back of your vehicle and often time it is a road rage related situation where that person behind you is angry or they're in a rush, they're trying to figure out a way to get around. And again, we only have control over the space in front of us so just finding an opportunity to let that person get around you and get in front and on their way it's the best that you can do.

Anthony Frangi: And it can be quite frightening can't it Belinda? You've got someone who's very close behind you and you don't know what they're going to do.

Belinda Seeney: It is, and I find that affects my behaviour as well or my personal safety because when I'm aware that somebody is too close to me I'm constantly looking in the rear vision mirror to make sure they haven't snuck up more, that if I need to break they're not about to run right into the back of me. So, it’s taking my eyes off the front of the road and as everyone here has been saying it's all about two eyes on the road in front of you, but I'm constantly flicking my eyes up to the rear vision mirror. So I'm missing a lot of the action that's happening in front of me and around me, so that has a flow on safety effects.

Joel Tucker: Tailgating has always been close to the top of the list and that's because it's dangerous and it does distract people and it also makes people feel threatened. The bigger the vehicle that does it probably the more threatening it is, and so for that reason it’s always been at the top or close to the top of the list when we've done these surveys.

Anthony Frangi: Well there is your top ten for yet another year from motorist who push in when changing lanes at number ten to driver who follow too closely, tailgating at number one.

Anthony Frangi: Belinda Seeney, Joel Tucker and Dave Webber thank you for joining us in this episode of the RACQ Living Podcast.

Belinda Seeney: A pleasure.

Dave Webber: Thank you.

Joel Tucker: Thank you.

Anthony Frangi: If you would like more information on any of the stories raised today, email us at roadahead@racq.com.au

Anthony Frangi: I'm Anthony Franchi. Join me next time for more RACQ Living.