Road Manners

Did you learn your manners as a child?  Do you remember most of them and still use them? What about driving manners?  We could all use a refresher on basic driving guidelines, also known as road manners or common courtesy.  With so many news stories about road rage, distracted drivers talking on cell phones, eating, and doing who knows what tasks, plus folks hitting the roads for vacations, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of some of the basics we learned in driver’s education.  See how many of these you still do on a regular driving day.

  • The stop sign is the signal to stop – not roll through, slow down, tap your brakes, or check to see if anyone is in the opposing lane. It means stop, period.
  • Turn signals are there for a reason. Drivers behind you have no idea what you plan to do unless you signal your intent.  If you’re going to turn right or left, turn on your signal.  If you’re changing lanes on a multi-lane highway, signal long enough to let the driver behind you and in the other lane know.
  • Don’t hog the left lane. Its real intent is for passing, not a personal drive-thru traffic lane to get ahead of everything in front of you.  If you’re not planning to pass someone, stay to the right.
  • Be aware of tractor-trailers on the road.We were taught in driving class that they are not able to stop as fast as a car and need plenty of room to maneuver. That hasn’t changed.  Darting in and out in front of them is asking for trouble. Use your mirrors and give them plenty of space before moving back over after passing.
  • Be courteous to others. If someone is trying to enter the stream of traffic and you have time to make space for them, let them in.  They will appreciate the gesture, especially in heavy traffic.  It would be nice if you got a wave or nod of thanks, but if you don’t, no matter – it’s the right thing to do.  Hopefully, someone will do the same for you.
  • Daily commutes can be frustrating. Leaving home a little early to get ahead of traffic can make the morning so much easier.  The same goes for the afternoon drive home.  If the five o’clock traffic is like a parking lot, why not wait a few minutes before leaving and let the traffic thin out rather than sitting in a hot car trying to mentally move the traffic along.
  • Be aware of road conditions. We worry about driving conditions in the winter months but tend to not pay as much attention to rainy or foggy road conditions at other times.  However, suddenly wet roads are hazardous and can be quite slick.  Adapting to changing road situations is an important defensive driving skill.
  • Aggressive driving is a real problem and reacting to an aggressive driver is likely to make a situation worse. If someone is acting aggressively toward you, get to a populated area and pull off.  Call 911 if necessary.  Don’t try to handle an out-of-control driver alone.  Don’t take chances.
  • Pay close attention to work zones. Those cones and warning lights are there for a reason – to protect workers and to protect you.  If you see a “lane closed ahead” notice, pay attention and move to the open lane.  How many times have you seen someone continue driving to try to get as far ahead as possible before moving into the designated lane?  Besides being irritating, it’s of little use, since eventually, everyone will have to slow down through the work zone or get stuck in the closed lane until someone finally lets them over.
  • Listen for emergency vehicles. Pull over for them, especially at intersections. They’re either on the way to help someone or transporting someone who needs to get help quickly.
  • Watch out for school buses. They may be off the roads for the summer, but before long they’ll be back.  Give plenty of space and time for kids to cross streets and enter/exit the buses.

If you read through this list and can check off that you routinely do all these suggestions, good for you.  Reminders are good things.  Happy driving on your daily commutes, your road trips, or your sightseeing excursions.  Have a great summer!  Happy motoring!


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