US drivers told to 'stop being polite'

BRITAIN'S most polite drivers are being told to stop being so nice - because they are putting children in danger.In a bizarre turn of events, motorists from an American airbase in Suffolk are being asked not to stop and let children go across the road where there is no crossing.

BRITAIN'S most polite drivers are being told to stop being so nice - because they are putting children in danger.

In a bizarre turn of events, motorists from an American airbase in Suffolk are being asked not to stop and let children go across the road where there is no crossing.

The concerns were raised by members of Mildenhall Parish Council, who believe the actions of motorists from the nearby American airbase could be a potential hazard for youngsters, who could get too used to cars stopping for them.

“The concern is that children might get used to it and expect all drivers to stop, which of course is not always going to be the case,” said parish councillor Gerald Taylor Balls.


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“The Americans are only being polite but unfortunately we have rules and regulations on the roads which everyone needs to abide by, otherwise it gets very confusing for people.”

Members of the United States Air Force are made to sit an intensive on-line driving test as soon as they arrive at RAF Mildenhall, followed by an additional course which goes into detail about British driving rules and procedures.

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Lieutenant Jamie Humphreys, public relations officer at RAF Mildenhall, said despite every attempt to educate American drivers, some people found it difficult to break the habits they learn at home.

“In America, we believe the pedestrians have the right of way. In a down-town area, for example, if someone is waiting by the side of the road then the polite thing is to stop and let them cross,” he said.

“Having to change your approach to driving is possibly one of the biggest adjustments for people coming from America to live in this country, but we are always working to try and educate people on the base about driving according to English rules, and we constantly enforce that policy.

“In America, it depends on where you are. If you are in Los Angeles then drivers are not particularly considerate, but I do find motorists in the United States to be generally more polite than drivers in Europe.”

But despite potential hazards arising as a result of cars stopping suddenly to let someone cross the road - including the fact that just because a car stops on one carriageway, doesn't mean traffic travelling in the opposite direction will do the same - some people believe motorists in this country could learn a lot from the American approach to driving.

Mary Jarrett, school crossing patrol manager for Suffolk County Council, said her staff were constantly having to put up with aggressive motorists outside schools.

“Drivers are required by law to stop for a school crossing patrol, but some people think they are just doing a patrol officer a favour by stopping, while others can actually behave in an aggressive manner, which can be frustrating and hurtful.” she said.

“Motorists definitely need to be more considerate, and while we would not recommend stopping to let children cross where there is no crossing, people should try and take a leaf out of the Americans' book.”

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