Lafayette Motorist Points Out Dangers of Roadway ‘Courtesy’
We all want to be nice, right?
When we are at the store or other venue, we often will hold the door for someone who is approaching. If we are offered a smile, we smile back. If someone helps us with something, we say "thank you".
All of these examples of courtesy are fully acceptable, but what about courtesy on the roadway? Could this kind of courtesy be dangerous?
This is the complaint from one Nextdoor app user: "What's with the aggressive courtesy on the road?".
The "aggressive courtesy" he speaks of is when someone will stop traffic on a highway to allow someone with a stop sign to enter the lane of travel on that highway.
Shaun Leger makes a great point in his post - sometimes the courtesy extended will actually inconvenience a larger number of drivers than the number of drivers they help. And something else to consider: is this kind of courtesy too much of a risk?
Leger's example brings us to the corner of Vincent Road at E. Broussard Road, where he was waiting to make a left turn onto Broussard Road from the stop sign on Vincent Road.
While Leger was waiting to turn left, a car approaching Vincent Road from his right (coming from Kaliste Saloom) stopped on Broussard Road and signaled him to go ahead.
I'm looking left, watching traffic, and I hear someone honking at me. Apparently the car travelling down E. Broussard from the right side had stopped and was holding up traffic honking at me to turn in front of her.
Once Leger realized what she was doing, he thought it was crazy for her to stop a line of cars to let him go. He motions her to continue on her way.
So I try to wave her off, "no, I have a STOP sign, you don't, it's not my turn, YOU go".
What the lady was doing was a courteous thing to do, but it's illegal (to impede the flow of traffic) and, he believes, it inconveniences too many other drivers.
She insists and honks again, by now there's at least 10 cars behind her wondering why she stopped when there is no stop sign. Now I hear another honk, this time coming from the left side of E. Broussard. Another car has stopped (without a STOP sign) and is honking for me to go.
So now, Leger is at a stop sign, with cars building up behind him, and two cars stopped on E Broussard Road (with traffic building up behind them) offering him the chance to go.
So here I am sitting at the STOP sign on Vincent, with both directions of E. Broussard stopped with lines of 20 or so cars honking at me "look we're stopping the traffic so you can go". It was ridiculous.
What would you have done?
Leger stood his ground and obeyed the STOP sign momentarily, but then relented and took the opportunity that was created
I did end up going just to end the standoff. But it's a dangerous situation that shouldn't have happened in the first place.
He goes on to explain that traffic would have flowed properly, eventually, had those motorists not attempted to extend the courtesy.
If they had just continued driving like they were supposed to, traffic would have cleared and then I would have went. I'm all for courtesy on the road, but this was something else!
Though it appears noble on the surface, this type of courtesy is indeed dangerous. It's even more dangerous on a multi-lane roadway.
Comments on the post varied, with several people understanding what Leger was saying, and others blasting him for being mad that someone was offering him the chance to go.
One Nextdoor user commented that she used to extend these small courtesies to other drivers, but after being involved in a serious crash, she is much more careful.
Leger, in response to her comment, makes another great point - should we trust "random" drivers that are trying to "wave me in"?
What if that driver doesn't see another car approaching that you can't see and directs you right into the path of that oncoming vehicle? It's at that point that an act of courtesy turns into a liability.
Others had the same thought.
And stopping traffic to allow someone in IS illegal, as it is impeding the flow of traffic.
Would a police officer actually give you a ticket for attempting to be courteous by stopping traffic as in this case? I would like to think that the officer would have to have been having a really bad do to actually pull someone over for this unless there was an obvious close call.
I am of the mind to think that, as a general rule of thumb, this kind of courtesy is too dangerous to practice regularly.
Rachel Courville shared a story about when she accepted the courtesy offered by a driver and found herself in a heap of a mess.
Again, this type of courtesy is much more dangerous on a multi-lane roadway, but these are good examples of why it might be a bad idea to offer the courtesy in the first place.
Here are some more comments on the subject.
Ken brings up a good point: stopping where there is no traffic control device increases the odds of a rear-end crash. Yes, people are supposed to be paying attention, but it will increase the chance of a crash.
Charlene appears to be teaching her kids to drive in a safe manner.
Here's another good example from Leger:
Is Leger being unreasonable? At what point does a courtesy extended by another individual become a burden to you?
I thought it was an interesting exchange. What are your thoughts?