How do you apologise when driving?

cranky 29 February 2012 20

My trusty steed has a wiring issue which causes the high beam to randomly activate when using the indicators with the headlights on.

I really annoyed a lady this morning when following her when the high beam flicking on and off was enough for her to change lanes and be obviously annoyed at the flashing lights in her rear vision mirror. Pulling alongside, I attempted to say sorry, and point at the dashboard, but it raised the question.

Is there a method of indicating ‘sorry’ when driving? When you inadvertently cut someone off, pull out when you shouldn’t, fail to indicate when you should?

I don’t know of an established standard/method/action, but it would certainly reduce the potential for road rage, pay back, and annoyance between drivers, but it could be a good thing.

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20 Responses to How do you apologise when driving?
Yurgle_the_Yeti Yurgle_the_Yeti 10:11 am 01 Mar 12

I think you really need this:

What my car needs

Innovation Innovation 9:58 am 01 Mar 12

I have wondered about this too. We all make mistakes and I have found that a wave and possibly even mouthing the word sorry usually is sufficient. Once, years ago, I made a mistake and experienced such road rage that a wave wasn’t sufficient. I ended up putting my hands together and bowed as if I was in prayer which seemed to calm them down.

I’m not sure face palming is such a good idea though. If someone is really wound up they might take that as you suggesting that they were the idiot.

I also found this electronic noticeboard on the net for $900 A cheaper option might be for you to make up a sign that you could hold up saying “Sorry my lights are stuffed”.

I agree we aren’t all perfect but I’m sure most of us wouldn’t knowingly drive a car that was unsafe Perhaps your cheapest option would be to get your car fixed or get it off the road.

justin heywood justin heywood 8:34 am 01 Mar 12

Bloody hell, the poor OP was simply asking how to be polite, a virtue sadly lacking on Canberra roads.

Reading many of the comments on this thread and others like it, I have become convinced that I don’t actually know any Rioters in my real life. Apparently, they are people who have never owned a car that wasn’t it perfect running order – as well as having never exceeded the speed limit, broken any law or in any other way been unsure of the absolutely correct path in life.

In the face of such perfection, I salute you.

Diggety Diggety 9:22 pm 29 Feb 12


I notice fellow Rioters prefer to chastise you on your motor vehicle, rather than answer the question you ask.

Of course this was expected, because you are asking Canberrans who are likely sh*thouse angry drivers themselves, and the only emotional outlet between a boring Canberran wife and an even more boring public service job is to maintain the rage on our roads.

So, your question was: Is there a method of indicating ‘sorry’ when driving?

Answer: I’m passing through Beirut Western Sydney at the moment where ramming them off the side of the rode and stabbing them is the accepted norm.

Glad I could be of help,

P.S. I hope you find that ‘sorry’ courtesy, because I would also like to know.

el el 8:28 pm 29 Feb 12

Your ‘trusty steed’ is an unroadworthy heap.

In the daytime, you are merely annoying people. At night time, you are dazzling other drivers, impairing their vision and potentially causing accidents.

Fixing the faulty combination switch seems like a good idea – You won’t even need to learn an apologetic hand-gesture to ‘reduce the potential for road rage’.

Henry82 Henry82 5:10 pm 29 Feb 12

Just fix your lights. At least then you can’t fail an inspection.

BiffLoman BiffLoman 4:04 pm 29 Feb 12

I just give a sheepish wave… with my cloven hoof.

HenryBG HenryBG 3:35 pm 29 Feb 12

The obvious solution would be to stop using your indicators.

I doubt anybody will really notice.

(Except on roundabouts, where you really should do your best to indicate the precise opposite of your intentions).

Simmi Simmi 3:26 pm 29 Feb 12

An essential part of driving is communicating with fellow commuters and I’ve always thought we should have an ‘apology’ signal on cars for instances like the one described.

Maybe a horn that plays La Cucaracha could be a good one.

Sleaz274 Sleaz274 1:34 pm 29 Feb 12

Nothing wrong with the courtesy wave at all, whenever I back off to let people in or something like that it’s nice to get a wave across the rearview mirror as acknowledgement that we are all in this together and little courtesies are appreciated.

I’m on the motorbike 9 times out of 10 and for those who don’t know we nod at you as sometimes our hands are busy, so if I get a wave, like a lovely lady in a black barina yesterday who headchecked and saw me accelerating up to her rear panel, indicated and gave me time to back off a little so she could move in, I gave her a nice direct nod of acknowledgement in return. All rather civilised.

It does sound like you need to fix those lights though that would be annoying because australian’s take flashing of lights and horn use as an aggressive, rude gesture. In many other more becoming countries these tools are used for far more mundane things like letting people in, indicating that you are overtaking or moving quickly, letting people know you are filtering past, friendly acknowledgement etc etc…

c_c c_c 12:42 pm 29 Feb 12

You we’re driving illegally at the time so best way to make amends would be to get off the road.

MERC600 MERC600 12:33 pm 29 Feb 12

I’d be gettin those lights fixed PRONTO, or you will find yourself sharing your car seating space with a tyre lever at a red light.

trevar trevar 12:08 pm 29 Feb 12

MsCheeky said :

Maybe slapping yourself in the head?


I think that would probably effectively communicate your apology; I would certainly interpret it that way… and now that I’ve read this post, I will probably also be able to tell you read RA!

Thanks for asking, Cranky; I’ve often wondered the same myself, and unlike BenMac and what_the I occasionally make mistakes, so I will be slapping myself in the face whenever I do from now on!

M0les M0les 11:25 am 29 Feb 12

Erg0 said :

Based on my experience, the most common way to indicate you’ve done something wrong on Canberra’s roads is to hurl invective at the innocent party while making obscene gestures in their direction.

Yes, I’m usually thanked with furrowed brow, bared teeth and a raised middle-finger.

But seriously: Smile and wave regardless of what they’re expressing to you – works fine either way.

(Oh – and get your blessed lights fixed sharpish!)

what_the what_the 10:46 am 29 Feb 12

Erg0 said :

Based on my experience, the most common way to indicate you’ve done something wrong on Canberra’s roads is to hurl invective at the innocent party while making obscene gestures in their direction.

Most accurate post ever.

AnimosiTy AnimosiTy 10:41 am 29 Feb 12

lol.. I like that.. slap your self in head! rofl!
I think people need to get less worked up over minor inconveniences in their day! :/
DONT hog the right hand lane! right Hand lane is for people who want to go faster and pay speeding fines, get your ass in the left lane. sit onthe speed limit in the left lane

Erg0 Erg0 10:39 am 29 Feb 12

Based on my experience, the most common way to indicate you’ve done something wrong on Canberra’s roads is to hurl invective at the innocent party while making obscene gestures in their direction.

MsCheeky MsCheeky 10:33 am 29 Feb 12

Well, yes, fixing the lights would be good. I think under the circumstances, I wouldn’t have had them on this morning, unless we’re talking when it was still dark.

But it’s a good question. We all make mistakes on the road and a universal apology gesture would probably calm some of those situations. Maybe slapping yourself in the head?

what_the what_the 10:33 am 29 Feb 12

Yeah, as pointed out, probably better not to piss people off in the first place when it’s completelyy avoidable. But generally the wave does it.

BenMac BenMac 10:23 am 29 Feb 12

I assume this will be a common answer, but maybe you could FIX YOUR LIGHTS.

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