AA Driving School

Learner drivers targeted by road rage 'idiots'

3 February 2010

Learner drivers are being targeted for intimidation by road rage 'idiots'

Learner drivers are being targeted for intimidation by road rage 'idiots' according to the AA, whose driving instructors have reported a catalogue of serious incidents across the UK.

AA Driving School is calling for more consideration towards learners, after a national panel of instructors pointed to examples of hostile, bullying and reckless behaviour towards pupils.

Tailgating and aggressive or dangerous overtaking are the most common transgressions, followed by verbal abuse, rude hand gestures, blowing the horn – and even car-ramming, racial abuse and threats of physical violence.

Comment

"Most drivers are patient and courteous and will give way, allow extra time and space and even applaud a successful manoeuvre," says Simon Douglas, Director of AA Driving School. "But an idiotic few see the L-plate as their own licence to harass learners with actions that are cowardly, bullying and sometimes downright dangerous.

"It's a tiny minority who cause problems and it shouldn't put people off learning to drive, as this is an important skill for life. Our instructors teach pupils to anticipate poor drivers and understand situations that might wind them up. And, where possible, they use offenders' behaviour as a lesson in how not to drive. But, on behalf of all learners, we ask drivers to show more consideration and respect. After all, we were all learners once."

Instructors have reported serious incidents to police and, where they involve commercial drivers, to their employers. Perpetrators have included members of the public as well as the drivers of buses, taxis, commercial vans and, in one case, an NHS vehicle with patients on board.

Reported incidents

Road rage incidents reported by AA Driving School instructors include:

  • Dangerous manoeuvres such as overtaking at pedestrian crossings, by mounting the pavement, or by going the wrong way around mini-roundabouts.
  • A driver in Wolverhampton aggressively overtook a pupil who was travelling at the 30mph speed limit. The man sounded his horn, shouted and gave a rude hand gesture as he passed, then swerved and braked hard, forcing the pupil into an emergency stop. He then put his car into reverse and threatened to crash into the driving school car.
  • A driver in South-east London shunted a driving school car into a wall to force his way past in busy traffic, causing considerable damage and leaving the learner badly shaken. To her credit, the pupil returned for the rest of her lessons and passed her test two weeks later.
  • A group of football fans in Bolton shouted racist abuse at a pupil and draped a flag over the windscreen, almost causing an accident.
  • A group of youths in Luton opened the back doors while a learner was doing manoeuvres and tried to steal contents from the back seat.
  • A van driver drove alongside a learner on a multi-lane road in Nottingham and kept veering towards the L-plated car as if to barge it off the road. The shaken pupil said afterwards: "There was no abuse from him, just a big smile on his face!"
  • In West Yorkshire a car crossed onto the wrong side of the road and started racing straight towards a learner. The instructor took evasive action then the other driver and his passenger drove off laughing.

Perpetrators have also included pedestrians, with people throwing stones, eggs, fireworks and even firing paintballs at cars driven by learners. One group of teens pretended to trip over and then lay down on the road in front of the car, forcing the learner to hit the brakes.

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3 February 2010