Driving is a great way to get from place to place, but it can also be a stressful experience. Whether you’re on the road to work or running errands, being a good driver starts with practicing proper driving manners.
Using common courtesies reduces stress on the road, and helps save lives. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced driver, check out these eight essential rules of etiquette to keep you and others safe on the road.
Respect the Lanes
On multi-lane roads, it is essential to maintain a safe bubble of space on all sides of your vehicle. This allows you to move quickly to avoid a collision and helps to ensure the safety of other road users.
It is also important to understand traffic lanes so you can respect them. Lanes are usually marked with a number, such as “Number 1 Lane,” or a solid yellow line that indicates the lane’s centerline.
You should always stay in the proper lane when passing or turning. This means staying in the right lane when you are passing on the left or the far right lane when you are making a left turn.
To pass, you need to signal your intention and give the car behind you plenty of room. You can do this by leaving three to four seconds between you and the vehicle ahead.
Keep in mind that other vehicles may be changing lanes and merging into your lane suddenly. This could put you in a dangerous position and cause an accident.
If you need to change lanes, use your mirrors first and check that the other lane has space for you to get into. Then, signal your intentions to other drivers and slowly move into the new lane.
When turning, you should signal your intent 100 feet before you begin. This will allow you to check your blind spots and make sure that there are no pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists in the lane.
You can also use your mirrors to check that you are clear of any other vehicles or pedestrians before you start your turn. It is not always possible to do this in every situation, so you should be prepared for any changes in road conditions and other hazards.
Don’t Honk Your Horn
The horn is a vital tool for safe driving, but there are times when it should be avoided. When you honk your horn, it can startle other drivers and cause them to panic. This can make them drive dangerously, which can lead to an accident.
The horn was originally invented as a way to warn people of your approach or presence. It can also be used to alert pedestrians to a danger on the road, like if they’re about to cross in front of your car.
But you shouldn’t honk your horn when there’s no danger, like if you’re stuck in a traffic jam and your horn isn’t loud enough to be heard. Honking your horn can also be an annoyance for other drivers, as it can distract them from their own safety and can be hard on their ears.
Drivers can also be fined for using their horn when they shouldn’t. This is especially true in areas where there are noise pollution laws.
Besides, if you honk your horn in anger, it will only stir up other drivers’ feelings of frustration and anger on the road, which can lead to unsafe driving habits.
If you’re in the middle of a traffic jam and your horn isn’t working, it can be helpful to give other drivers a friendly “beep” when the lights change green. This will let them know they have a few seconds before they need to move.
But honking your horn to say hello or to connect with friends is a bad idea. It can be annoying for other drivers, and it may even disturb those who live nearby. Additionally, it can be a violation of local noise pollution laws, which could result in a fine or a fixed penalty notice.
Don’t Block the Lanes
When it comes to driving manners, one of the most important things is not blocking the lanes when you’re in them. Drivers who do this not only cause accidents, but it can also be a big hassle for other drivers.
If you’re traveling in a lane that is blocked, you should wait until the lane is clear and then merge into the open lane. This is called the zipper method and it can save you time, stress, and frustration.
Another reason you should not block the lanes is because it can hurt your visibility. This is especially true if there are tall vehicles or trees in your path.
To avoid this, it is best to slow down and get a good look at the vehicle you’re passing in your rearview mirror. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and whether it is safe to pass.
It is also important to watch for traffic that’s coming from the opposite direction and making a turn into the center lane. They are often faster than you, and you need to be ready to safely and quickly pass them.
There are many reasons to do this, including avoiding car crashes and improving your visibility.
The left lane was designed by roadway engineers as a place for overtaking other cars, not as a travel lane. This means that you should only use the left lane when you are overtaking slower-moving cars or when it is crowded with other cars.
June is Lane Courtesy Month, so it’s a great time to practice this. You can also make a difference by writing your state legislators and telling them why this is so important.
Give Other Drivers the Right of Way
When you are on the road, it is important to give other drivers the right of way. This is an essential safety practice that helps prevent car accidents and injuries to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
In general, the law states that all vehicles must yield the right of way to other traffic that is already on the road. But it can be confusing as to what that right of way means in different situations.
For example, there are many situations when you need to know who has the right of way when turning left or entering an intersection. Luckily, there are common-sense rules to help clear up confusion and keep everyone safe on the road.
If you are on a one-lane backroad and encounter another vehicle going uphill, you need to give them the right of way. Even if they have a green light, you need to pull over and let them pass safely.
When making a turn into a driveway, alleyway or parking lot, you must give other vehicles the right of way when they are in your path. This is especially true if they are on an open road, or close enough to be a hazard to your safety.
Similarly, when you’re driving at an intersection, and you get a green light to turn left, you need to give the right of way to all oncoming traffic who is already in your path. This includes cars that are going straight and turning right, as well as those that are heading toward you in the same direction.
If you are a pedestrian, you must also give the right of way to other vehicles when entering an intersection or walking on a sidewalk. While this is a little more complicated than it seems, it’s still an important part of the right-of-way process.
Give a Friendly Wave
A friendly wave is a great way to express your appreciation for someone’s kindness or good driving manners. It’s a simple gesture that makes other drivers feel good and gives them something to smile about, too.
For example, imagine you’re driving down a street and there’s a car in your lane that is stuck because they parked their vehicle in the wrong spot. You move over to let them in so they can go ahead of you. It’s a really small gesture, but you’ll feel so much better when they wave back that you’ll want to do it more often.
But you’ll also want to be sure you’re not giving another driver the wrong impression. This is especially true if you’re giving them a wave in a situation where they have the right of way.
When you wave, it’s important that you raise both of your fingers from the steering wheel. This is called the “Classic” wave. But there are other types of waves that you can give if you’re not feeling too enthusiastic about the classic.
The Claw: This wave is a little rarer than the Classic or Palm, but it’s not too uncommon to see it in Montana. It looks like a claw, and it’s very similar to the Check-Off wave.
A friendly wave can be the best way to show a driver that you appreciate them for their kindness. It’s a simple and free gesture that will make everyone involved feel good and spread some good karma in the process. So give it a try the next time you’re on the road and see how much better it makes the other drivers around you feel.