In a perfect world, the road would be a relaxing place where no one was ever in a hurry and everyone drove considerately. Unfortunately, we all know that this is not the case, but it never hurts to strive for perfection. Next time you’re behind the wheel, keep in mind our 10 tips below for friendly driving etiquette. Not only will your commute be safer and stress-free, but you may just inspire a fellow driver to pay it forward.
1. Merge smart. If someone is merging in front of you on the highway, slow down and let the car in front of you. This will make barely a dent in your travel time, but will make your fellow driver’s journey less stressful, and keep the road safer by keeping traffic moving uninterrupted. On the other side of the coin, when you’re the one merging into traffic, keep up your speed and ease into traffic rather than stop or slow down.
2. Use the left lane for passing only. This is probably one of drivers’ biggest pet peeves when it comes to sharing the highway. Unless you’re passing someone, drive in the right lane and leave the left lane open for those who want to pass. This will not only keep traffic flowing better, but will cut down on tailgating and road rage from those who want to get to their destinations faster.
3. Yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians in crosswalks always have the right of way, even when you’re in a hurry, so follow basic etiquette and let the pedestrian cross before you continue on your way. Conversely, stopping for pedestrians trying to cross in the middle of the road without a crosswalk is not recommended, as it stops traffic unexpectedly and can cause accidents.
4. Don’t multitask. When you’re behind the wheel, focus on the road, not your cell phone, radio, GPS, eating, makeup, or any number of common distractions. Your attention to driving is not only courteous to your fellow drivers and passengers, but makes the road an overall safer place.
5. Mind your brights. When driving at night, be considerate and dim your high beams when an oncoming car is approaching. The simple gesture makes everyone’s drive safer.
6. Don’t tailgate. When you’re in a hurry, it often seems like even getting a few inches closer to the car in front of you will get you to your destination quicker. However, it’s both rude and unsafe to tailgate the car in front of you, and should there be a collision, it will almost always be deemed the fault of the car behind. Leaving ample space between you and the car in front of you will make everyone’s drive safer and less stressful.
7. Use your turn signals. There’s nothing more frustrating than drivers who do not use their turn signals to let others know what they’re about to do. Your signals are one of the best tools for safe driving. Set a good example for courtesy and safety by putting on your turn signal before changing lanes or making a turn.
8. Use your horn for safety, not personal expression. Your car’s horn is there as a safety tool, to alert other drivers and pedestrians in an emergency situation. Using it to express anger or annoyance toward your fellow drivers only perpetuates rudeness on the road. Next time you get the urge to honk at someone for annoying you, take a deep breath and remember your etiquette!
9. Don’t hang out in a blind spot. Always anticipate that your fellow drivers might not be fully aware of their surroundings and minimize the potential for accidents by avoiding driving in another car’s blind spot.
10. Acknowledge when others are courteous. Help spread the road etiquette gospel by acknowledging when a fellow driver sends some courtesy your way. A simple wave when someone lets you in can go a long way in spreading the road friendliness.