While driving, there are certain rules of etiquette that we all should know. These simple, yet often overlooked, driving manners can make all the difference in a good or bad day on the road.
These rules can also help drivers avoid getting into accidents. If you’re new to the driver’s seat, or have been driving for a while and need to brush up on your manners, read on!
Use Your Signals
Signaling your intentions is a very important part of driving and one that many drivers overlook. However, it is a required practice that helps keep everyone safe.
Whether you are turning left, right, changing lanes, or stopping at a traffic light, your signals let other drivers know that you are about to make a change. Your signals also help alert pedestrians to your intentions and let them know if they need to move out of the way, which will prevent accidents from occurring.
When you are making a left or right turn, put your signal on at least 100 feet (200 feet in some states) before reaching the intersection. This will give other drivers plenty of time to react and allow them to safely stop in their lane or pull out in front of you.
Before you make a lane change, signal your intention with your hand. The signal should be given with your hand extended at a ninety degree angle, upwards. This is to ensure that your signal is clearly visible from behind you and to avoid confusion with a left-hand turn signal.
If you are going to stop at a traffic light, put your signal on before you apply the brakes so that other drivers will know you are about to stop. This will also help drivers who are in your blind spot to know that you are about to alter your driving course.
You should also use your signal before you exit a parked position. If you want to merge into the lane parallel to your vehicle on the opposite side of the road, signal your intention with your hand by pulling down on your signal lever.
Drivers often get confused when they are trying to change lanes and a vehicle speeds up in front of them to fill the gap. That can lead to a car accident and a serious injury to the driver on the opposite side of the road.
If you’re not sure whether to use a hand signal or your turn signals, consult your driver’s handbook for more information. Most states require that you signal before turning and changing lanes.
Don’t Honk Your Horn
While a car horn may sound like fun, it’s important to remember that it is meant to be used as a warning device and should not be used for any other purpose. Honking can startle other drivers, and even cause them to speed up or change lanes, which could lead to an accident.
It’s also a violation of the law to honk your horn when driving in certain areas, such as at night or in the early hours of the day. These laws are typically intended to protect pedestrians and other road users who can’t hear your horn.
Drivers can also be fined if they are found to be honking their horn for no reason, which is against the Highway Code. This can lead to a Fixed Penalty Notice, which can cost you PS30. This is a lot of money for just a moment’s entertainment or frustration!
Some cities prohibit honking at certain times, such as between 11:30 pm and 7:30 pm. This is because honking can be disruptive to others who need to sleep. This is especially true in areas with a high concentration of traffic.
If you are at an intersection and the light has changed to green, it is OK to give a gentle horn to let other drivers know that the light is green. This will help them to avoid causing an accident while they are waiting for you to pass.
However, drivers should not honk their horn for long periods of time, such as when they are sitting in traffic. While it may seem like everyone would like to move faster, this is simply not possible.
Another common mistake is to honk your horn when there is no immediate danger. This can be annoying and frustrating for other drivers, and it can also lead to an accident.
Lastly, drivers should never honk their horn when they are angered or frustrated with another driver. This can result in a collision and serious injury.
It’s also a good idea to keep your horn tone low and to be consistent with the sound you are making. If you are a loud and angry person, it can be very difficult to control your voice when driving.
Don’t Be Afraid to Pull Off
Driving is a fine art and requires all the attention you can muster. A few small missteps could mean the difference between a safe commute and a trip to the emergency room. Luckily, you can train yourself to avoid them by practicing your driving etiquette.
One of the most important is to not be afraid to pull off. It’s no secret that most drivers are anxious about a sudden lane change, but there is nothing wrong with doing it when the situation calls for it. If you must, use your horn to alert the driver in the next lane that you are passing them.
Another thing to remember is that there are a lot of other drivers on the road who are also anxious. This can lead to a bit of road rage and even a crash or two, so it is best to be courteous to others.
There are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe behind the wheel, including learning some helpful driving etiquette and keeping your mind and body in top shape.
If you are looking for a way to improve your own driving skills, consider taking a class or two from an accredited instructor. There are many resources available to help you get started, so find a course that fits your budget and get ready to hit the roads in style!
Give a Friendly Wave
One of the easiest and most appreciated driving etiquette habits to acquire is the ability to give a friendly wave. Whether you’re sitting at a red light and another car is waiting to make their turn, or if you’ve pulled off the road to let a bike rider pass, waving hello can be a great way to express gratitude.
Often, this simple gesture can be the difference between a pleasant interaction and an unpleasant one, says Jennifer Carroll, regional vice president for Reef Parking in Seattle. “It’s not a command, it’s not something you’re supposed to do, but when you can show appreciation to someone in the moment, it’s a great thing to do,” she says.
Drivers should also make a point to wave to people working in their yards, walking their dogs, or riding their horse down the road. This kind of friendly gesture spreads good karma that will be felt by many other people, so it’s worth the time to practice it!
As a rule, it’s best to give the friendly wave when the other driver has a right to be there. It’s important to remember that when you’re passing a vehicle and the other driver has no right to be there, it can be illegal. You could be ticketed if you flash your hazards or wave someone on when you don’t have the right of way, but this is rare and usually occurs only when there are multiple cars involved.
If you’re not sure how to give a friendly wave, try this: simply raise your index and middle fingers from the steering wheel as if you were giving a two-finger salute. It’s much easier than a standard hi sign, which requires a hand on the wheel, raised to your chest level.
Some drivers, however, are not comfortable with the wave. They feel like it’s an unnecessary gesture, and that they can’t really give it back. I’ve noticed that, in recent years, it’s becoming less and less common for other drivers to give a courtesy wave, as if they think it’s too difficult or a little silly.