Update your driving skill set with a touch of humanity.

With Chief Inspector Garry Sims APM

Pictured: Chief Inspector Sims revisits the site of the tragic Bilpin crash that he attended with other emergency services personnel.

Photo: KE Photography for West of the River Magazine

Policing in a modern society involves much more than fighting crime. A function that is of equal importance is working with members of the community to keep people safe in everyday situations, including when we use our roads. During my thirty-five years of policing some aspects of my work has changed dramatically. The use of technology is an example of this. When I started my career, we were using manual typewriters and carbon paper whereas today, we have state of the art digital equipment to assist our work. Somethings however have not changed, including some basic advice to keep you, and others, safe on our roads. I am going to share with you some of these tips and I feel very confident that they will improve your road use.

Under the current COVID-19 restrictions we have experienced in New South Wales, many people are driving roads they are not necessarily familiar with, driving longer distances than they usually travel and encountering the “are we there yet” pressures that sometimes come with road trips. By practicing kindness, courtesy and respect as part of your driving skills, your journey, and the travel of others, will be a lot safer.

Kindness extends to driving just as much as it should to everyday life. Sure, the driver in front of you may be annoying you by not being in the correct lane, touching the brake pedal a bit too much or driving a bit slower than the signposted speed limit. Can you feel your tension rising? I recommend that you take a break, practice kindness and appreciate you do not know what pressure the driver in front of you is experiencing. Perhaps they are not familiar with the area, maybe they are looking for a place to pull over for a car sick child. Showing kindness to other drivers is just one of the acts of courtesy you can extend to other road users.

Courtesy is in the responsible driver skill set. Does it matter if the car along side of you gets away from the lights first? A driver changing lanes in front of you with little notice is not a direct attack on you! There is a lot going on while driving, if a fellow motorist needs to come into your lane, pull back, extend some road courtesy, and enjoy your own driving experience without the mist of road rage coming over you! Driving with courtesy will help get you to your destination safely.

Keeping people safe is not just the task of members of the New South Wales Police Force. We all have a responsibility to look after each other, and this includes the times when we share the roadways with other users. If all drivers practice kindness and courtesy to each other, our trips to work, holidays or even the short drive to the shops, stress levels will drop, your driving improve, and who knows, you may even receive a smile or a wave of thanks from another driver! Please drive to stay safe.

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