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How to drive like a Gentleman, part 5

Steve Whitaker 21st August 2013
by Steve Whitaker

My dear chaps and chapesses,

I believe the time is ripe for a foray into the traffic-wallahs at HM Government who have seen fit to take the matter of non-gentlemanly conduct on the Queen’s Highways in hand.

About time too, if you ask me! There are far too many miscreants on the road who seem to think the laws of the land and the code of conduct laid out in The Highway Code don’t seem to apply to them.

For those of you who are worried that perhaps your on-the-road behaviour may lead to you falling foul of the new regulations (although I find it very hard to believe that an esteemed customer of Mr Kahn’s fine automobile emporium would fall into such poor form), one has compiled a handful of bon-môts. It may be that I have dispensed these words of advice in a previous article, but due to the constabulary now having powers to enforce certain measures of gentlemanly conduct with the use of on-the-spot fines in the amount of £100, I believe a reminder may well be warranted:


There is a group of most disagreeable drivers who seem to think it is acceptable to drive so close on the motorway that they would be able to examine the contents of your boot (that’s “trunk” for our colonial cousins, if they are reading this missive). This is obviously highly unacceptable as well as being dashed foolhardy. If one is required to sharply apply the brakes to arrest one’s forward motion, the tailgating car would most certainly cause a dashed unfortunate prang.

Not giving way at a junction

This is the absolute height of rudeness, and as such is behaviour no true gentleman should be engaged in. As a gentleman, taking one’s turn should well be engrained into one’s psyche. The only real problem in this regard should be a so-called “Mexican Stand-Off” where two gentleman drivers are at opposite sides of a junction, insisting that they give way to the other.

Overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic

Now this really is most ungentlemanly conduct. It really is most un-British and most certainly not cricket. We, the subjects of Her Majesty in this Sceptred Isle invented the queue in order to uphold our values of fairness. The queue is a quintessential part of being British and therefore an integral part of being a gentleman. Unlike certain uncouth individuals, especially the sort who wear baseball caps when in the driving seat, a gentleman driver will wait his turn in the queue with patience and good grace.

Being in the wrong lane and pushing into a queue on a roundabout

One does accept that everyone does make the occasional faux pas, especially when on unfamiliar roads. That is perfectly understandable. The actions undertaken to rectify the situation are the signifiers of whether or not the driver is undertaking gentlemanly behaviour.

When one realizes one’s mistake, one should indicate one’s intention to change lanes then wait for another driver to open up a gap to let you in. What one should NOT do is just force one’s way into the first gap one sees.

Lane discipline,

By this, I am referring to that specific type of blackguard who will sit in either the middle or outside lanes of a motorway or dual-carriageway, irrespective of what may be in any of the inside lanes. This really is beyond the pale. Overtaking one dawdler is enough of a bother, without having to move into the outer lane when one should really only be required to move into the middle.

As we of the driving fraternity are aware, the outer lanes of the motorway are purely for overtaking. Once one has completed the overtaking manoeuvre, one should move back into the inside-most lane one is able to reach.

Inappropriate speed

There are those who seem to think that the accelerator pedal in their motorcar has only two settings: not pressed or flat-to-the-floor. As any gentleman driver worth his salt is no doubt aware, this is patently untrue. The varying settings of the accelerator pedal and the gearbox in one’s vehicle allow one to adjust one’s speed in order to match the environment within which one is driving.

That, dear reader, is what a gentleman driver is obliged to do.

Wheel-spins, handbrake turns and other careless manoeuvres

Such damned-fool behaviour really should not even be considered by the gentleman driver. Not only does one risk causing damage to one’s pride and joy, one will most definitely be regarded as a buffoon and vulgarian of the highest order.

Recalcitrant drivers who are snatched by the Thin Blue Line will be given the chance to attend a driving course if they have recorded no other similar offence in the same way as speeding. Serious examples of non-gentlemanly conduct will still go before the beak, where offenders could face much higher fines and harsher penalties. Shame they won’t be in receipt of a damned good thrashing. In my day… ahem…

Of course dashed foolish drivers will still be able to appeal against the penalties in court.

I’d be happier being able to dish out six of the best to these bounders, personally…

Until the next time, dear readers.

Quentin Cholmondley_Silverstone

Click here to read part 4 of this feature

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