Nice Guy Driver TrainWe all know the expression “nice guys finish last,” but they also contribute to a number of car accidents throughout the Tampa Bay area. On the surface, this claim may seem counter-intuitive, even overly harsh, but there are at least two ways this style of driving promotes auto accidents.

1. Allowing Pedestrians to Jaywalk/Cross The Street With No Signal:

I actually lived this problem outside of the YMCA in New Port Richey earlier this week. The car in front of me had slowed down for what appeared to be a right hand turn…but the car did not turn. It came to a dead stop in the middle of the road, so that a young woman could cross. Fortunately, I followed suit, however the car behind me did not. This driver ended up slamming on his brakes and swerving (somewhat) off the road to avoid colliding with me. Why did this happen?

On one hand, you could blame the driver who needed to slam on his brakes to avoid the car accident. After all, you should always pay attention to the car in front of you. Plus, legally speaking, he most likely would have been considered at-fault and given a ticket had an accident occurred. Yet, the driver in front made a very large mistake that could have endangered a number of people. Right or wrong, people drive according to patterns of behavior. When those patterns breakdown, car accidents occur. It would have been far safer for the original car to just make its turn as it normally would (if no pedestrian was present) and then allow the pedestrian to cross after all the cars had passed.

Car SwervesIn addition to myself almost being rear-ended, I could not help but think how dangerous this seemingly nice behavior was for the pedestrian. Cars slow down for right turns, and all the cars behind them are supposed to slow down as well. Yet, sometimes the following cars just swerve around to maintain speed, especially if the car in front slows down considerably. Unfortunately, the pedestrian is now crossing with a false sense of security thinking all the traffic stopped for her…plus her vision is blocked by the stopped car. What would have happened had the car that slammed on its brakes, swerved around instead…tragedy. Fortunately, no one was harmed during my incident, but this type of car accident has happened all over Tampa and other places. Sadly, it is one that could easily be avoided.

2. Allowing someone to pullout across multiple lanes:

This car accident happens constantly during rush hour. You see it all over from Kennedy Blvd to US. 19. A driver is trying to turn into a busy shopping center or office complex, but he needs to cross a major road to get there. The driver sits in the turning lane straddled by three lanes of parked cars with a pleading look on his face. Another driver will notice this poor man’s plight and decide, “hey, I should let this guy out. After all, he just needs to cut across a few lanes, and I’m already late anyway.” Naturally, this nice driver gives a friendly double-honk or a wave of his hand to the other driver, and the other driver beams with appreciation.

So far, this incident seems harmless, and if you’ve ever been stuck in Tampa traffic, you might even say it’s heartwarming; however you are forgetting one critical fact. The nice driver can only allow safe passage through one lane…not the other ones. Both of these drivers assume the drivers in the other two lanes will stop, and usually, at least the person in the second lane does…but it’s the third lane that tends to be the problem. The driver in the third lane has far less visibility than anyone else in this scenario. Additionally, he probably isn’t expecting someone to cut into his lane without warning. So what do you think happens next…BAM!

Peek A BooThe driver cutting across collides with the driver in the far lane, and we have a “peek-a-boo” accident. Yes, these types of accidents are so prevalent in Tampa that my firm has given them their own name. Now, beyond the usual problems car accidents cause, (injury, trauma, financial loss, etc), the driver who cut across the lanes is most likely going to be the one at-fault. Thus, our nice driver, by allowing someone to pull out on a busy road, contributed to that driver getting in a car accident; one that will probably be considered his fault. Possible neck pain and higher insurance premiums…thanks a lot, nice driver!

If you’re starting to think I’m “the Grinch who stole commuter kindness” that’s okay, but these two examples necessitate your consideration.” Some people really think they are looking out for the best interests of pedestrians. Other people really think they are helping out someone stuck in gridlock. I get it; I really do. However, individual acts of kindness on the road can be deadly; there is just no other way around it.

While I have already shared with you scenarios to prove this point, the overarching rationale is rooted in the importance of coordination. There are so many drivers in the Tampa area, and hence, many different ways for car accidents to occur. Fortunately, when people all adhere to the same rules, accidents diminish. For example, it really does not matter if our traffic lights consisted of colors other than red, yellow and green. What matters is that everyone follows whatever color pattern is displayed; this is the essence of coordination.

The problem with the nice driver scenarios mentioned above is that they are not coordinated with other drivers’ expectations. No one expects someone to make a dead stop in the middle of the road. No one expects a car to cut across his lane. No one expects a good dead to turn into a car accident…but it can and often does. So, the next time you are on the road, we hope you will give some thought to this article and the potential outcomes of your actions…nice or not.