Whether you’re driving your kids to sports practice, running errands or just getting from point A to point B, there are certain rules of the road you should follow. These unspoken etiquette standards are called “driving manners” and they can help keep you safe on the road.
Drivers should observe lane lines and give way, indicate changes of direction and stick to speed limits. They should also wave to acknowledge a fellow motorist’s generosity or when there are funeral corteges on the road.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
As you are driving, your eyes should always be scouting around the road for hazards and movement that could cause problems for you. This can include a driver who is tailgating you or someone who has swerved in front of you.
It is also important to be alert to traffic signs and road markings, which can help you avoid hazards that are likely to cause accidents. This includes warning signs, road improvements and street lights that indicate a junction or roundabout is coming up.
You should also keep your distance when passing other vehicles, especially large trucks and buses. These vehicles require more time to accelerate, and they may not be able to see you if you are too close.
One simple rule is to keep three seconds worth of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This can reduce the risk of a collision if you are following another vehicle too closely.
In addition, you should not look at your phone for a long period of time while behind the wheel. This can be very distracting and can be dangerous for other drivers on the road.
If you need to use your phone while driving, set it to silent and pull over to a safe area to do so. It is also a good idea to have a passenger return calls or texts for you, so that your own attention is on the road and not distracted by your device.
Don’t Throw Trash Out the Window
You’re driving down the highway or along a local street and from the car in front of you someone heaves a pile of garbage out the window. It’s an aerial barrage of fast food wrappers, paper bags, soft drink cans and glass bottles thrown high into the air.
That might sound like a cool way to dispose of the trash you’ve just consumed, but it isn’t. Not only is throwing organic material like fruit peels out of your car window a wasteful use of fuel, but it also can cause an accident when animals or insects get caught in the mess.
In fact, a recent survey from Churchill Car Insurance found that more than 7.6 million drivers have littered while behind the wheel. Eight percent of these motorists tossed out non-degradable items such as fast food wrappers and plastic bags while five per cent disposed of degradable items, including fruits and vegetables.
To avoid a collision, don’t throw out trash or make a rash decision to turn without first signaling. By law, you’re supposed to begin signaling about 100 feet before you change lanes or make a turn. This gives other drivers plenty of time to see and react to your signal. Using your signal in this manner not only prevents a collision, but it’s also a common sense habit that can help you stay safe and keep other drivers on the road.
Don’t Turn Without a Signal
Turn signals are one of the most effective ways to communicate with other drivers and alert them to your intentions. They are also important tools for keeping pedestrians and bicyclists safe while on the road.
In fact, failing to signal when turning can cause many serious accidents. It’s illegal to make a sudden turn or move into another lane without using your signal.
When you’re about to make a turn or change lanes, put your turn signal on for approximately 100 feet before making the move. This gives motorists around you ample time to understand your intentions and react accordingly.
While the legal requirement to use your indicator may seem like a burdensome one, it’s a vital safety precaution. Failure to signal when changing lanes can create a dangerous situation for other drivers, who could end up swerving in front of your vehicle or rear-ending you in their attempt to get out of the way.
It’s easy to get into the habit of skipping your turn signal when you’re about to turn or change lanes, but it’s a big mistake. Failing to signal can cause other drivers to swerve in front of your car or rear-end you, which can be life-threatening.
Don’t Honk Your Horn
Honking your horn is a popular way to express yourself while driving, but it can be dangerous. Not only does honking make you more likely to get into an accident, but it also puts other drivers at risk for road rage and other traffic problems.
A car horn should only be used to alert other drivers of dangers on the road, not as a means of venting your frustration or expressing aggression. Excessive honking can even cause you to receive a fixed penalty notice and mark against your license.
The horn is only meant to be used in emergencies, such as when your brakes fail or you are about to collide with another vehicle. Don’t use your horn to complain about someone else’s mistake or to express anger, as this can escalate to road rage and even accidents.
It’s perfectly acceptable to use your horn when you are in an emergency, such as when an 18-wheeler is about to crash into your lane or when a pedestrian is about to step into the path of your car. It’s also okay to honk when you are driving on a narrow road or when you are in an area where you can’t see at least 200 feet ahead of your vehicle.
However, don’t honk your horn while you’re waiting for your passengers to join you. You can park your car and call them or get out to ring the doorbell, instead. This will not only avoid a possible accident, but it will also help you keep your driving manners up.
Don’t Pass Slower Than the Speed Limit
Driving at a speed slower than the posted speed limit is illegal in many states. Drivers who do this can get cited for “blocking the flow of traffic.”
A variation of this violation is driving so slowly in the right lane that you impede normal and reasonable traffic movement. This is a common violation on one-lane roads, where drivers often try to go faster than the posted speed limit.
On multi-laned highways, the best rule of thumb is to keep in the right lane unless you need to change lanes for a reason. When changing lanes, look for other cars and smaller vehicles.
The speed limit is different in each state, so make sure you know the limits in your area. This will help you avoid getting caught and getting a ticket for speeding.
Another tip is to check your mirrors before passing. This will allow you to see if there are any vehicles in your blind spot and will also give you time to safely change lanes.
If you do not have time to change lanes, pull over to the shoulder and let other drivers pass. This will ensure everyone stays safe on the road and keeps you from causing unnecessary accidents.
This is especially important on multiple-lane highways, where drivers must constantly switch between the left and right lanes to make a turn. Weaving back and forth is stressful and dangerous.
Don’t Block Lanes
Drivers should leave sufficient space between themselves and other vehicles to avoid blocking lane lines. This creates a “space cushion” in the middle of the road, which can prevent a side-impact collision or a head-on crash.
Keeping a good distance between your vehicle and the other cars on the road is important for safety, and it’s especially critical when you are passing another vehicle or when there are many vehicles behind you. It also helps reduce wind turbulence between your vehicle and other vehicles, which can cause you to sideswipe other drivers.
On roads where there are two or more lanes of traffic, use the lane that is indicated by signs and road markings. This ensures you have a clear view of other road users and gives you more time to react in case of an emergency.
When changing lanes, use your mirrors to check for any other road users in your path and then signal to let them know you are planning a lane change. When it’s safe to do so, move over to the other lane and complete your lane change quickly.
Some lanes are restricted for use by particular types of vehicle, and you should not use these unless there is a sign indicating your vehicle can do so. These include cycle lanes, bus lanes, taxis, licensed private hire vehicles and motorcycles.