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Cruel to be kind: Overly nice drivers are a road hazard

"You go."

"No, you go."

"After you. I insist."

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"Please, take my turn."

Sound familiar?

Dear fellow driver: We were this close to having an accident last week, and it's your fault.

We both know how close I came to T-boning your car. I saw the look of fear in your eyes and I know that the string of profanities running through your mind likely matched mine. If I had been distracted by the radio or driving a little faster, you and your 10-year-old economy car wouldn't have stood a chance.

How did this happen? The "niceness" that infuriates me almost every time I get behind the wheel strikes again. For this near-accident, we can both thank that "nice" gentleman who stopped his car on a city street to let you turn left out of that parking lot, despite the absence of stop signs or red lights.

His generosity, while admirable, was misguided. The right of way wasn't his to give, nor was the lane I was travelling in. He should have kept driving, leaving you to fend for yourself to turn left when there was a break in traffic – instead of taking it upon himself to be the boss of that stretch of the road.

His good deed could have left you permanently disabled or worse. How nice does that sound? Was that extra five seconds you saved worth it?

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By definition, accidents are events that happen unexpectedly, and without an apparent cause. If we had been in an "accident," hopefully neither of us would have been injured, and our insurance companies would have dealt with the aftermath (and we'd surely be stuck with the bill, one way or the other). But calling this situation an accident is wrong. The results of this sort of driving aren't surprising at all, and they definitely have a cause.

We hear about reckless drivers, those who speed excessively or drive while under the influence. All bad news – no argument there. But the silent menace on our roads is the driver who thinks he knows better.

There are rules of the road for a reason, and niceness isn't a good enough reason to break them.

Send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

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