What happened to civility?

In a more civilized time, not so long ago, people had better manners.

In a more civilized time, not so long ago, people had better manners.

That is, we held to a higher level of conduct that included treating others with respect, suppressing primeval urges to lose one’s temper easily, offering a simple hello as we pass each other in our busy lives and, the be-all end-all of politeness, simply saying thank you.

We are moving closer to a mannerless society, where it’s everyone for her/himself.

It’s a world of give the other guy the finger, curse loudly when anyone gets in the way and bully on through — especially when it comes to driving.

The proof is in a Harris/Decima poll released Monday by the Canadian Automobile Association.

“Three out of four Canadians surveyed felt drivers are showing more annoying habits today than they were five years ago, compared to just two per cent who said other drivers have grown less irritating.”

Road rage and being cut off in traffic topped the list of bad driving annoying behaviours at 86 per cent.

“Texting or talking on the phone, tailgating, failing to use signals and tossing trash out the window also rank high on the list of irritations,” according to the CAA poll, which surveyed 5,044 Canadians. (The poll is considered accurate to within 1.38 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.)

The other most annoying habits break down as follows: text while driving (85 per cent); follow too closely (78 per cent); talk on the phone (78 per cent); throw trash out the window (73 per cent); do not use turn signals (73 per cent); too aggressive (72 per cent); block intersections (67 per cent); speed excessively (62 per cent); constantly change lanes (59 per cent); and park too close to others (54 per cent).

It’s interesting that speeding is lower on the list.

Alberta stands out in one overall question: “Would you say that drivers today exhibit more annoying habits than they did five years ago, fewer annoying habits, or about the same?” Albertans had the second highest “more annoying” response to this question, at 76 per cent. Atlantic Canada was highest at 79 per cent.

Here’s one of the most annoying things I find while driving: almost 100 per cent of the time when I see poor driving, there’s never a traffic cop around.

The one exception was when I was recently coming back from Calgary on Hwy 2, a driver in a dark-coloured pickup truck was driving extremely fast, in the rain and darkness.

When he got tied up by the ‘slow’ traffic, which was doing about 120 km/h, he would ride the bumpers of cars, semis, whatever was in his way, slamming on his brakes, speeding between vehicles.

I didn’t but someone else must have called police. Just outside of Red Deer, a Mountie pulled him over. I’m sure everyone on the road cheered. He wasn’t just speeding, he was scaring the Dickens out of everyone else on the road.

I don’t know what’s happened with the teaching of drivers these days.

And why is everyone so angry?

Most of us respond to anger and frustration with anger and frustration.

But some drivers do get it.

Those are the ones who wave thanks when you let them into a waiting line of traffic or the ones that let you in line. The thank-you wave goes a long way in keeping driving civil, and reducing the day to day stress of driving amongst idiots and bullies.

I know, it’s impolite of me to call people names. I apologize.

“The odds are that if we’re civil to other people, most — not all — but most, will be civil back,” said Ian Jack, a spokesman for the CAA.

The real solution is simple.

Miss Manners school first for everyone who wants a driver’s licence.

Mary-Ann Barr is Advocate assistant city editor. She can be reached by email at barr@bprda.wpengine.com of by phone at 403-314-4332.