I was interested to read a viewpoint in a magazine recently that I thought our profession had long left behind. Without going into detail, blame is a slippery slope and can only serve to be destructive; for those on the receiving end and for the ones pointing fingers
In our trade, blame often leads to regrettable acts of road rage and disrespect between different road users. Like anywhere in life, behaviour of road users ranges from the perfectly courteous, law abiding citizen; to the other extreme with lapses in concentration, errors of judgement and even violation of the law. It could be a child running out in the road; an elderly person taking longer than the pelican lights allow; a motorcyclist squeezing between vehicles; a van driver in the wrong lane; a car driver speeding, distracted on a mobile phone or under the influence of alcohol. The variety and volume of the risks other road users present are immeasurable, but these are the risks professional drivers face on a daily basis.
I fully agree that people have a responsibility to take care of themselves, but does anyone deserve to die for making a bad decision? Step forward those who have never been a distracted road user – in or out of a vehicle, the faultless who have never made a mistake and those who have adhered to every single traffic regulation for their entire driving career. Is the demand for perfection in others an unrealistic one? Do we damn the doers collectively because we damn the deed?
One road user in particular that has been a substantial source of debate over the past decade is the cyclist. This debate was triggered by a series of fatal collisions involving HGVs; every single one a personal tragedy. A fatal crash generates a host of emotion and just a few years ago we had a deep-rooted blame culture. The press tended to side with the ‘victim’ and HGV operators and drivers were vilified. Fortunately, times have changed; progress has been made and viewpoints have moved on – on both sides of the argument. Incidents are decreasing and we need to keep the dialogue constructive.
Rather than point the finger at those we can’t influence or pick holes in laws we can’t change, we must remain professional. Drivers need to be prepared for the daily risks they face. Equip them with defensive driving skills, fit their vehicles with the latest technology and ensure they have a positive mindset to enable them to think rationally and manage the risks presented by others.
FORS has a whole range of toolkits, workshops, training courses and eLearning modules to help achieve this, all of which are aligned to the requirements of the FORS Standard. Let’s at least do everything within ‘our’ power to make the roads safe.