Driving these days can be stressful. Boy, that’s an understatement if there ever was one.
People seem to treat driving like a competition, trying to be the fastest and the first. Some treat it like a battle they have to win. Needless to say, with these attitudes it can get pretty treacherous out there on the road.
I’d like to offer some suggestions, or maybe reminders, for practicing good driving manners. It’s not yet a post-nuclear Mad Max world, so there’s no need to drive like it is. Set the example with your driving.
Use Your Signal
That little stick attached to the left side of your steering column? It’s a switch to turn on and off your signal lights on your car to indicate which direction–left or right–that you plan to turn.
I’m being a tad sarcastic, but it seems some drivers have no clue how to use a turn signal.
Utilize your turn signal to indicate making a turn, making a lane change, or taking an exit off the freeway. It’s helpful to drivers behind you to know your intention. Using your signal is simply a safe driving habit and good manners.
Maintain Your Distance
No one likes a tailgater. So don’t tailgate! You don’t like it, so don’t do it to other drivers. Driving too close to the vehicle in front is a common reason for car crashes.
The rule of thumb has been, for every ten miles per hour of your speed, stay back one car length. So, if you’re driving at sixty miles per hour, maintain a distance of at least six car lengths. Even if traffic is heavy and moving slower, it’s a good practice to keep several car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead.
When stopped at traffic lights and moving through city streets, stop your vehicle at the point where you can still see the bottoms of the tires of the car ahead of you. In case a vehicle ahead of you should stall or there’s a fender bender, you’ll have space to pull around the car in front of you. It’s also a safety precaution if a stranger is approaching you while you’re stopped and you feel threatened. You have a chance to escape the threat.
Watch Your Speed
Drivers are in a hurry even when they’re not. People are driving faster these days, but that does not mean it’s a good idea.
But driving too slow is a real danger as well. Suddenly finding yourself behind someone going twenty miles per hour below the posted speed limit poses a problem for everyone.
Generally speaking, keep up with the flow of traffic around you. Going too fast or too slow increases the possibility of an accident.
When someone lets you pull out onto the street ahead of them in heavy traffic, you know how appreciative you feel. Pay it forward. Allow a driver to pull in front to get in the flow of traffic or to make a turn ahead of you.
Another situation to demonstrate courtesy is when several lanes of traffic have backed up and are blocking a turn through into a business or neighborhood. Driving courtesy dictates that the vehicles stop, leaving enough room for drivers wanting to turn to be able to do so.
Now, there are exceptions to this action. Do it only when a driver wanting to turn can safely do so. I’ve seen one driver stop in one lane to allow cross traffic through, but the other lanes still have cars moving. This is especially dangerous if the driver wanting to turn has their view of the other lanes blocked. You may be able to see no cars are coming, but they cannot. If they decide to chance it, let it be on them. Don’t wave them on.
Keep Your Cool
Impatience and driving do not mix well.
I’m convinced there is some sort of transformation that takes place when many people get behind the wheel. They become a whole different person. They become aggressive, they believe they are invincible, and they treat total strangers with a high degree of disrespect. Outside of driving a car, they seem totally normal and decent. There has to be a name for this psychological phenomenon.
Not every driver behaves that way, and that’s part of the purpose of sharing this information–to help people avoid this Jeckyl and Hyde metamorphosis.
Road rage is real. Keep your temper in check. Try this next time you find yourself driving in heavy traffic. Imagine each driver that is annoying or inconveniencing you on the road is someone you will be sitting next to at church or is the person you need to help you with something. It might change your tune, or at least temper it a bit.
We all have to get on the road with others. Take responsibility for your driving habits and set an example for others.