It’s National Etiquette Week, which is a great time for a few reminders on driving etiquette. Being a good driver involves more than just avoiding accidents. It’s sharing the road with others while sticking to the written and unwritten rules of the road.
Use Your Turn Signal
Using your turn signal alerts others that you are planning on turning or changing lanes. The blinker warns other drivers that they will need to give you space or move around you.
Turn signal etiquette works both ways. When another vehicle signals for a lane change or a turn, you should give them the courtesy of either slowing down or passing to give them room to move over.
Don’t Hog the Left Lane
While some drivers feel that it is acceptable to stay in the left lane as long as they drive the speed limit, the left lane is intended for passing only. Once you pass a slower-moving vehicle and it is safe to get back over to the right, you should do so. Staying in the left lane when unnecessary can lead to impeding traffic which causes unsafe tailgating. It also causes others to pass on the right, which can create bottlenecks and accidents.
Be polite and move over to the right.
Multi-tasking, such as eating, reading, or texting while driving, is not only putting your life in danger, but putting others’ lives in danger as well. When you’re behind the wheel, your primary focus should be on what is going on ahead of and around your vehicle, not on things happening inside your car – especially if it’s preventable.
With GPS, satellite radio, and complex information systems in more and more vehicles, the number of in-car distractions are constantly increasing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed over 3,000 lives in 2019. NHTSA states that taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds while driving at 55 mph is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed!
Don’t Be Aggressive
Driving aggressively by speeding, constantly switching lanes, or tailgating is not only rude, but it is also dangerous. While traveling in this manner may make you feel better if you’re running late, you aren’t helping yourself get to your destination sooner. When you follow another car too closely, you significantly raise the likelihood of causing a rear-end collision. Aggressive lane changes or swerving from lane to lane to get around vehicles also increases the chances of an accident and saves only a small amount of time.
DefensiveDriving.com has created a game demonstrating how little time is actually gained by traveling above the speed limit. Over a 20-mile drive on a highway with a 65-mph limit, a car traveling 75 mph will only save about two and a half minutes compared to cars traveling the speed limit. The added speed doesn’t save as much time as you might think, and it increases your chances of being in an accident or being stopped for speeding.
Turn Off Your High Beams
Using your high-beams on unlit back roads at night helps you see where you’re going, but they’re blinding to other drivers. Remember to turn them off when a car is coming in the opposite direction or when you’re behind another vehicle.
Keeping these things in mind when driving allows you to help make sure we all get where we’re going in one piece.