Are Canberra drivers becoming more aggressive?

Zoya Patel 23 June 2021 224
Man honking a horn

It doesn’t take much to bring out the worst in motorists. But is it getting worse? Photo: Region Media.

I never thought I’d say it, but the streets of Canberra seem to be becoming meaner these days. In the last month, I’ve experienced or been told about incidents on the roads that are more than just annoying, they are borderline sinister if not illegal.

A few weeks ago, a car tailgated me while I was driving at the speed limit on the Barton Highway, coming from Murrumbateman to Gungahlin. The driver ducked around me at a lane merge and went over the double lines to cut in front of me. I beeped my horn (because it was flat out dangerous). He slammed on his brakes – causing my car to skid to a halt and my passengers to dangerously jolt into their seat belts before he sped off. I was shell shocked. It was more than just aggressive, it was downright dangerous.

Then this week, a friend was driving behind a car towing a trailer with various items in it when one of the tables stacked on its side flew out of the trailer and impaled her car, jamming into the radiator. By some immense fortune, the car didn’t flip or skid, and she was able to stop without being injured. But the other driver drove off! They didn’t even check to see if she was OK and uninjured. They were clearly more concerned about avoiding a fine for their unsecured load. My friend is stuck with a massive bill and no witnesses.

READ ALSO: Man allegedly wheels away $70,000 in cash from University of Canberra Supermarket

And on another recent occasion, on the Federal Highway as it filters into Watson, I watched a car and a motorcycle engaged in a clear bout of mutual road rage, careening around each other, with the car getting closer and closer to the motorcycle in a way that looked extraordinarily dangerous. Both were clearly at fault, but the consequences could have been extremely dire, and the risk didn’t seem worth them making whatever point it was they were trying to.

Are we losing sight of how dangerous the roads can be and letting our emotions take over? These incidents are genuinely scary because any of them could have resulted in death if just one thing went wrong – if the road was a little slippery, if the car tyres were just on the wrong side of worn out, if the driver was a little less capable …

After the near-miss with the rude driver who cut me off and then almost caused a collision, I was jumpy in my car for weeks, scared that I would somehow offend another driver and have them react in an equally extreme way.

But those nerves are nothing compared to when I tow a horse float, which I do most weekends.

I anticipate people speeding past me, cutting in front because, God forbid, their schedule be put back by the two minutes they might have to wait to overtake safely. It puts us all in danger and really doesn’t seem worth it.

Maybe it’s always been like this, but compared to driving in other cities, I always felt Canberra drivers were generally more reasonable and calm. Our lack of traffic (compared to bigger cities) created a more sensible culture of driving because everyone can always get where they need to go, and usually within 20 minutes.

Is it just me, or are drivers getting more aggressive? Are we becoming complacent about how risky dangerous driving is and the consequences it can have? Do we need to change the way we monitor and police the roads, or is it time I invest in a dashcam and assume the responsibility myself?

What's Your Opinion?

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224 Responses to Are Canberra drivers becoming more aggressive?
OpenYourMind OpenYourMind 12:42 pm 30 Jun 21

What I find amusing with this discussion is that when the topic of cyclists is raised, there is the usual noise about cyclists breaking the law…eg. ‘I once saw a cyclist run a red light or I once saw a cyclist riding two abreast’. Certainly my anecdotal evidence is that such events are relatively rare.
Meanwhile a mention of crappy car driving and there’s 231 responses clamouring to say how bad Canberra car drivers are. Remind me, where’s the problem.

Futureproof Futureproof 4:57 pm 29 Jun 21

I have said it before, but I am absolutely positive that ACT drivers are taught to turn left from the outside lane, by speeding up, cutting across across your front, especially when there are no cars behind you, except them

Linda Peverill Linda Peverill 7:17 pm 27 Jun 21

Twice now at the Wanniassa Shops in Canberra I have been almost run down… The first was in the actual car park, walking across to get to the other side where a foot path was heading towards a bus stop… An elderly male proceeded to just keep driving towards me, brushing my hip and thigh as he drove past… There were witnesses, but none cared, as long as it wasn’t them, why would they care… I had an awesome black and blue bruise, and some pain for a few days… The second incident, I was headed towards the Wanniassa Shops from the bus stop… I had gotten halfway across the small two way road there, when a young male on a motor bike proceeded to just turn the corner onto the road and practically run me down… I had a woman stop near me in the car park, ask am I alright and offered to go after the nasty little runt… I just stuck my rude finger up at the motor cyclist as he drove off and apologised to the very nice lady for my rude finger behaviour and thanked her over and over for her offer, but I didn’t want to trouble her over some nasty little runt… Pedestrians have right of way in a shopping centre car park, for those idiots that are in such a hurry… What about the elderly, or children that dart off and run out from all kinds of places??? Are these nasty runts going to care when they actually take an innocents life, just because they didn’t want to wait a few seconds or minutes for someone to cross or a car to reverse??? Think before you act drivers… You are driving around in a deadly weapon, that causes death and serious injuries…

Jane Stubbs Jane Stubbs 4:41 pm 27 Jun 21

Yes sadly.

Lisa-Marie Iorfino Lisa-Marie Iorfino 11:38 am 27 Jun 21

I’m originally from Sydney, where almost every driver is forged into a cut-throat opportunist.
When I came to Canberra nearly a decade ago I wept at how peaceful the roads were, how polite the drivers (though the rain seems to panic people a included I guess).
Now though, I’m seeing a sad pattern of increasingly head-up-the-arse behaviour on our roads. My hypothesis, more ex-Sydney drivers coming to Canberra not knowing that we have the capacity to chill here.
Maybe that’s it. I don’t know…
…all I’d say to inconsiderate/dangerous drivers is there’s space, everything is such a short drive away, just breathe and be kind; and remember that you are just a squishy meat-bag full of organs in a huge metal vehicle surrounded by other squishy meat-bags…! Why not play nice?

Stacey Lee Baker Stacey Lee Baker 12:59 am 27 Jun 21

The other day I was a little bit behind someone coming up to a red light. They decided there were not waiting and went through the red light and a car was coming straight for them and had to go to the other lane. Was almost a major accident. I screamed, I seriously thought they were about to get hit

Frustrated Frustrated 3:30 pm 26 Jun 21

I have always felt Canberra drivers were agressive, self centred and rude.

However, it is definitely worse now, if that was possible since the population has grown so much in the past two decades.

Mamy Watts Mamy Watts 2:34 pm 26 Jun 21

People can't drive.

Trying merge at 70 with traffic that's flowing at 100!

Stopping at a round about when you have no reason to.

Not moving up (leaving a huge gap) so people can turn left at lights.

Bring ignorant of people wanting to pass you when you are not doing the speed limit.

Travelling at 80 and speeding up to 100 when you hit the over taking lane.

Seriously people can't drive. If you aren't confident get off the road.

Rachel Elphick Rachel Elphick 11:08 am 26 Jun 21

Jessica Skokleska thoughts? 🤣

Nisha Ramkrishna Nisha Ramkrishna 8:11 am 26 Jun 21

Are they Benazir Badsha Zaidi and Asif Zaidi 🤣🤣🤣

Alison Hall Alison Hall 12:35 am 26 Jun 21

Canberra drivers are the worst in the country from west iv experienced . It’s getting ridiculous and scary to be honest. 😣

Heidi Brennan Heidi Brennan 12:21 am 26 Jun 21

On a recent trip to Canberra Hospital I was surprised at how patient drivers were giving way to pedestrians at zebra crossings. But maybe that was only that zone of the city?

    Jamie Preston Jamie Preston 5:39 pm 27 Jun 21

    Heidi Brennan it was just a good day i have had people try to hit me walking across the road

Paul Funnell Paul Funnell 9:24 pm 25 Jun 21

I have no problem with people doing the speed limit my hate is people doing 10-15 kph under the speed limit for no reason people tail gating are idiots and gets you no l where but paying an insurance excess and putting people's lives at risk, I find the worst is when you come to road works 40 kph everyone sits on your tail and makes you feel bad but stuff them suck it up and obey the road rules

Lyn Mellier Lyn Mellier 9:21 pm 25 Jun 21

I've been tooted when indicating, slowing down to turn into my own driveway. Rude impatient drivers on Canberra roads.

    Lyn Mellier Lyn Mellier 8:49 am 26 Jun 21

    Dave Ogilvy Yes, even when it's usually a left turn into my driveway & I give plenty of warning, my car is lucky to still have the paint on it as they scream past so close.

    Leroy Lee Leroy Lee 2:07 am 27 Jun 21

    Dame thing again. Move as far to the left as possible, so you don't slow down any traffic behind you, and you won't get beeped at. Give them room.

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 8:45 pm 25 Jun 21

Super rude, aggressive and dangerous

Naomi Breasley Naomi Breasley 7:50 pm 25 Jun 21

Why don't the AFP drive around & do traffic stops like Police do in other states?

Adam Scott Adam Scott 6:18 pm 25 Jun 21

I regularly feel like the only one doing 40 in the 40 zones.

Also do some drivers think that they use more petrol with their lights on, I keep seeing cars at night no lights

Ali Light Alasady Ali Light Alasady 5:31 pm 25 Jun 21


    Alex Fox Alex Fox 12:05 am 26 Jun 21

    Ali Light Alasady nah that just makes you the angry driver 😌

circe64 circe64 12:32 pm 25 Jun 21

There is a road going into Gungahlin where 90% of drivers clearly show they don’t read road signs. They drive 60 in a clearly signposted 80 area. Then you have the lazy idiots that expect you to have ESP and NEVER use their indicators! Not to mention Right-hand lane-huggers! I have NEVER seen any cops around here only speed vans! If we had more of a Police presence then I’m sure it would be a different story!

Dylan Salafia Dylan Salafia 12:12 pm 25 Jun 21

Maybe because

1 no one uses an indicator

2 poeple drive in the right lane under the speed limit and when u go to overtake in the left they speed up

3 they don’t no how to form one lane

Correct me if I’m wrong

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