How rude are Winnipeg drivers?

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How rude are Winnipeg drivers?

Adam Anna finds the "Friendly Manitoba" licence plates somewhat ironic.

"I've been to other cities where they're a lot more friendly when it comes to just letting someone into the lane," Anna said.

After living in Toronto and Australia, he's still trying to figure out the car etiquette in Winnipeg.

"There will be people who will literally not let you in or sometimes almost take offence that you want to come into the lane and actually speed up more," he said. "I don't know, it's pretty crazy."

Anna isn't the only Winnipegger who encounters rudeness on the road.

Adarsh Das moved to Manitoba from India three years ago and, as a cyclist, still has trouble getting respect from drivers.

"I think just because I'm driving a bike they don't really care," Das said. "I think it's more like barbaric driving."

CBC Manitoba recently asked several Winnipeggers for their views on rude driving for a new series called the Loss of Civility. Each week in March, we'll look at a different issue on CBC Radio One and online, starting with driving.

Kelly Hilderman thinks there are too many bad drivers on the road — but she also admits she's a rude driver.

"I overuse my horn too much, I think," Hilderman said.

Who is she honking at, when she's behind the wheel? "People running across the street when they're not supposed to," she said.

"People texting and driving, sitting at the light, can't tell if the light's changed yet," she said.

Bad day can turn deadly

The Canadian Automobile Association released a survey about red-light texting in late 2016. Nearly one-third of Canadians who took the CAA poll said they had texted while stopped at a red light in the last month.

According to a survey released last year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly eight in every 10 U.S. drivers admit expressing anger, aggression or road rage at least once in the previous year. The behaviour could include tailgating, yelling at another driver, cutting them off or making angry gestures.

"Motorists will engage in certain activities behind the wheel of their car that they would never do in the line at the grocery store," said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research for AAA. 

Nearly two out of three drivers believe aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than it was three years ago, he said.

The way drivers react to various situations on the road can be affected by what kind of day they've had or what's going on in their lives, he said.

"Sometimes inconsiderate driving or bad traffic or just simply having had a bad day can transform into dangerous road rage incidents, where situations become physical and even deadly, in some cases," he said.

Kelly Hilderman's mother, Tracy, said her mood can affect her behaviour as a driver.

"If I'm in a bad mood then I'd probably be more likely to yell or honk my horn, or something like that," she said. "And if I'm in a good mood I let, you know, people go when it's not their turn or, you know, let people in."

"I try and be a courteous driver because I know when I'm driving, when people are courteous to me, I appreciate it.  And when they're not, I don't appreciate it."

Maria Minenna, manager of driver education and training with Manitoba Public Insurance, believes drivers need to practice patience on the road and remember that it's not all about them. 

Can only control our actions

"What we have control over is our actions," Minenna said. "We do not have control over someone else's actions."

People need to think about how they're interpreting the situation, she said. 

"People aren't doing it purposely to you. Maybe it just happened and they were unaware of the action that they just did.

"I think if all drivers would be more aware of what they're doing and how their actions affect other drivers, it would probably reduce the amount of rudeness or maybe some negative interactions that, you know, happen on the roadway."

Listen to CBC's Information Radio Monday at 7:40 a.m. for a conversation about rude driving, as part of CBC Manitoba's series the Loss of Civility.