Can how you drive reveal your politics?

Peter Henley
Political editor, South of England
@BBCPeterHon Twitter


I got suckered into taking one of those online psychology tests the other day. It puts you in a category by asking questions about your driving style.

The result for me was "mediator".

"You are the peacekeeper of the highway. You avoid confrontation, you always let the other driver go first." Hmmm.

When it got to suggesting that I could be described as "punctual and a planner" I knew that the test was as lost as I often am. Perhaps my answers, basically reflecting the Highway Code, had confused the people in the USA where I suspect this test was drawn up.

Image caption,
Are 'smart motorways' socialist?

But it got me thinking about the differing ways people drive.

In the cities it's dog-eat-dog. Hesitate at an intersection and you could be there all day. But down a single track country lane it's the height of bad manners not to give way.

If the roads are a microcosm of the ways we relate to others is there a socialist approach, or a libertarian way to run the traffic lights?

Smart motorways are certainly an example of how enforcing equality can make traffic travel more efficiently. Research in Berkshire has proved the dynamic sequence of 60, 50 and 40 signs, enforced by speed cameras, prevents bunching and gets everyone to their destination quicker

Do away with road signs

On the other hand In Dorset's Poundbury development architects did away with road signs, to encourage drivers to take more individual responsibility for their driving. Without rules, it's been suggested, people think harder and take more care about how their actions impact on others.

You could argue the great British roundabout is a sign of our common-sense middle way. It works because people respect each other, but without the spoon-feeding of timed lights at a junction.

In general the left would like to see more and better public transport, the right values our individual freedom.

Cycling or walking has got to be the better thing for the environment.

Like so much in life, the choices we make about how we travel, and how we act when in charge behind the wheel may well reflect the choices we make when we vote.