Are you a good communicator?
Would you consider yourself to be a good communicator? I know many people who say they have good communications with their family members. As a member of a busy family of 6 people, it can become very difficult to keep good communication between members of the family all the time. How well do you communicate with your family or friends?
I remember my wife letting me know that a friend called to remind me that soccer was starting up again. I was excited to hear this as I enjoy playing soccer and called my friend and teammate immediately upon hearing this message. He seemed surprised that I called. He thought I wasn’t playing any longer. That’s because he called me a few weeks earlier and never replied to him.
That’s a perfect example that communicating isn’t always what we think it is. He left a message on our voicemail thinking I would get it. The person who listened to the message forgot to tell me it was there. There was no communication between my friend and me. Can driving a vehicle be similar? As a driver, it’s also important to communicate effectively, but how do you know you’ve actually communicated?
The first part of communicating is to send an appropriate message to another road user regarding your intentions. The second part of communication is ensuring you get a response. If you didn’t get the intended response you were looking for, you failed to communicate effectively.
I hear how drivers would yell at drivers or cyclists or pedestrians before they pulled out or walked out in front of them. Instead of yelling, why not honk your horn lightly to warn them? Early communication works better than not doing anything at all. Honking late tends to become a “cursing tool” for the driver. A couple of light taps of the horn can become a proactive communication tool to help keep traffic moving along and to help keep road users safe.
There are many communication tools we have with our vehicle that many drivers fail to use. Perhaps they don’t know the advantages of them. How many times have you come up to a stopped vehicle and stopped behind them only to find out they want you to go around them? If they placed their 4-way flashers on, it would make it easier for drivers who are approaching them from behind to know to pass them early.
The same can be said about reverse lights. I’ve seen how drivers would signal right, slow down and stop with traffic approaching from behind them. The problem is they wanted to reverse into a driveway or parking space but didn’t place the gear selector into reverse so the reverse lights would activate. That lead to the driver behind them to stop right behind them; blocking them from reversing into their driveway or parking space.
I think we all know the driver who drives a standard transmission vehicle who gears down to slow down, as opposed to braking to warn the drivers behind them. Do they know they can brake to slow down, or are they just having fun with the gears?
Knowing that the proper response was achieved by other road users is just as important as sending the message. If you brake to warn the driver behind that you are slowing down, but they fail to see you do this, you have not communicated. Therefore, you’ll need to change your plan and abandon your turn. If you honk at a pedestrian who is about to walk into your path and they keep walking, you haven’t effectively communicated. You’ll need to change your plan and stop for them or change lanes to avoid them.
Communication is a two-way street; you have to send a message and get a response from the road user to know it’s been accepted. That’s what I’m trying to communicate to you. Feel free to respond to me.