How To

Learn how to communicate better

Ian Law has some advice for drivers on how to communicate better.

Good communications can make your drive safer and more efficient and I am definitely not talking about cell phone or “texting” communications!

Many motorists may not be aware of the amount of attempted communications they encounter on each drive. Traffic engineers and officials are communicating to each driver through traffic lights, signs and more recently, the large overhead electronic signs. This newer form of communication gives all motorists up-to-date road information as well as gentle reminders about driving etiquette and rules.

As well, radio stations try to relay traffic and road information to their listeners to facilitate an easier drive.

In order for the communications to be effective there has to be a giver and receiver of information. Many times the receiver is out of order. You can talk until you are blue in the face, but if no one is listening, there is no communication happening. Too frequently it is distractions that lead to this miscommunication.

The opposite also happens when someone is listening but no one is talking.

Both of these miscommunication scenarios are played out much too often on our roads.

Many motorists fail to even try to communicate even though it is required by the rules of the road. It is mandatory that any lane change or turn be indicated by electronic means or by hand signal.

Letting your fellow motorists know what you need or want to do is also good common sense. Playing guessing games on our roads only leads to trouble. Many motorists haven’t read the basic rules so why would you expect them to read your mind?

Signalling your intentions to others sharing the road with you requires a clear indication along with enough time for that message to be seen and interpreted. Giving those last second blinks of the turn indicator does very little for you and those around you. A proper lane change or turn signal is a clear indication of what you need to do, not a confirmation of what you just did!

To communicate clearly to your fellow motorists requires two things. One, you should give ample warning so others can pick up on your intentions. Two, make sure your electronic communicators — turn signals and brake lights — are working properly and not blocked or broken. This includes those on trailers.

Along with the basic and required signals there are others we should all incorporate into our driving habits.

When another motorist intentionally slows or waves you into the spot in front of them, give them a friendly wave of “thank you” in your rear window. This minor gesture shows your appreciation for their effort and can go a long way. It will give that motorist a little more incentive to be generous again.

If we all did this, more drivers would feel better about letting others in. Next thing you know, we could have streets full of courteous drivers!

Conversely, when another motorist needs to move into your , if you wish to help them, either wave them in or signal by flashing your lights. This takes the guess work out of your intentions for them.

The one signal we should drop altogether is the infamous one-fingered salute. This gesture generally assumes the traffic infraction was personal and simply not an innocent driving error. This generally incites road rage and as such is a totally useless form of communication.

On the other side of the communication equation, many times the message is presented clearly only to have it fall on deaf ears.

Too many times, emergency vehicles are being ignored even with their sirens blaring and lights flashing.

Effective communications with your fellow motorists can make your driving less stressful, more rewarding and noticeably safer.

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