Claire Gardner: Life in the slow lane the quickest way to a family road rage

THERE we were merrily driving along an East Lothian country lane singing along to Jessie J.

The sun was shining, the kids were laughing and we were off to the beach. Our world was good – glorious in fact.

That was until, seemingly out of nowhere, a small blue car swerved out in front of us – then proceeded to crawl along at 21mph for miles and miles and miles.

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Now a better woman than I would have taken this in her stride – seen the bigger picture and simply enjoyed the drive – perhaps used the enforced creep to play a game of I-spy with the children. But no, this careless motorist who was driving at a snail’s pace had really made me mad.

Within seconds I was shouting and pointing – explaining to the kids that this “thoughtless selfish idiot was ruining our journey” – and that she needed to “SPEED UP.”

Then, after what seemed hours, there was a length of road suitable for overtaking (here comes the bit that I am not proud of), I encouraged my impressionable offspring to issue this poor slow-coach of a driver with “the death stare” as we passed on by in a cloud of cross dust.

Now, this was not my finest hour, setting a terrible example to my kids, but I know I am not in the least bit alone in the rage I felt when a thoughtless driver felt the need to keep her car on crawl control.

However, as those helpful messages tells us as they flash up on boards dangled over motorways – “Frustration Can Cause Accidents.”

This is true, I know, but what I didn’t realise until recently, is that foxy females cause accidents too.

Yes, believe it or not, a study has concluded that drivers ogling pedestrians cause nearly one million crashes in Britain every single year.

And the danger zone is now, as scantily clad lovelies strolling down their street in summer skirts cause men to take their eyes off the road. Crashing into lampposts or shunting into other vehicles is the result of wandering eyes.

Interestingly, the study showed that an enormous 60 per cent of men admitted to being distracted by a flash of female flesh compared to just 12 per cent of ladies eyeing up a bit of male eye candy.

I’m not quite sure what these results mean about road safety apart from that the majority of men are unashamed lechers and women are not. However, it did set me thinking about other driving hazards.

So far we have frustration and flesh to blame for causing crashes. As it happens, another report released this week shows that singing at the wheel is another sin.

A study revealed that motorists who belted out a tune playing on the radio had slower reaction times than drivers who merely listened.

However, it seems that it’s not just any old music that increases the chances of crashing, it has to be the wrong type of tunes.

Yet more research has pointed to the conclusion that drivers who listen to fast music in their cars have more than twice as many accidents as those listening to slower tracks.

Motorists were asked to listen to a music ranging from classical tracks to clubbing anthems.

And the conclusion was that as the music tempo increased, drivers took more risks, such as jumping red lights.

So now we have frustration, flesh and fast music putting us in the danger zone on the road.

The final piece of research on road safety flags up yet another nasty – food.

Munching while driving is actually more dangerous that using a phone or being over the alcohol limit.

The University of Leeds found that the reaction times of motorists who indulged in a snack while at the wheel were 44 per cent slower that usual.

So how should we behave behind the wheel if we want to keep safe?

Do nothing, apart from concentrate on driving, is the advice of the AA.

Or perhaps we can look to the chorus from Paul Evans’ 1959 hit song, Seven Little Girls (Sitting in The Back Seat) for inspiration on driving etiquette, aimed in particular at ogling men.

“Keep your mind on your drivin’

“Keep your hands on the wheel

“Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead.”