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Canadian drivers aren't as polite to other motorists as they think they are, according to a recent survey by an online insurance marketplace.

The Kanetix.ca survey found 98 per cent of drivers say they are polite on the roads, but say they notice others being polite far less often.

"We only recognize when other drivers are bad and when we are good," says Anne Marie Thomas, an insurance expert with Kanetix.ca, adding she was shocked by the results. "If someone does a nice thing to let you in, we tend not to think about that as much as the guy who cut us off."

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To illustrate the disconnect, Thomas says when she went to cross a street as a pedestrian in downtown Toronto last Friday, she couldn't cross because the intersection was blocked with cars. However, only 6 per cent of drivers admit to blocking traffic. Thomas wondered if all 6 per cent of the respondents just happened to be at that particular corner at that particular time.

Respondents were asked about 16 scenarios and how often they do it versus how often they see others. Here is how they responded to five of the situations:

  • Yielding to pedestrians or cyclists: 78 per cent say they always do it versus 12 per cent who say they see others do it.
  • Waving to thank a driver for letting one in: 77 per cent say they always do it versus 9 per cent who say they see others do it.
  • Tailgating: 2 per cent admit to doing it versus 15 per cent who say they see others do it.
  • Not signalling or signalling at the last moment when turning: 1 per cent admit to doing it versus 21 per cent who say they see others doing it.
  • Yell or use profanity: 12 per cent say they sometimes do versus 50 per cent who say they see other driver do it.

"Canadians seem to be overstating their own level of politeness," says Janine White, vice president of marketing for Kanetix.ca, in a statement. "There is a huge disconnect between how we think we are behaving and what is actually being seen on the roads."

If there is one main takeaway, Thomas says it is to look at our own behaviour.

"At some point, we are other drivers too and what are others taking away from how we are driving," she says. "By in large, we just remember when we are good… Before we accuse others of being an impolite driver, maybe we should check ourselves."

The survey, conducted online in June, asked these questions of 1,000 Canadians.

The goal, according to Thomas, is for motorists to be more considerate. That will lead to less stress while driving, fewer aggressive moves, less accidents and lower insurance rates.

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