Driving on a public road is a cooperative effort. Like any other social situation, it works smoothly when each of us remembers the etiquette of the road: to be kind, considerate and respectful of each other.
How many times do we drive home from shopping or commuting with tales to tell of traffic nightmares, close calls, and inconsiderate or distracted drivers who put everyone on the road near them at risk?
Rude road behavior is often both obnoxious and dangerous. It can also be illegal.
Following is my unofficial list of six rude behaviors that raise our risks on the road:
Number 6: Passing faux-pas
- Drivers going slowly in the passing lane clog the normal flow of traffic and raise tempers of those who are stuck behind them.
- Truck drivers may spend long minutes trying to pass each other at slow speeds, or while going uphill. This slows the flow of traffic and quickens our heart rate.
Use the passing lane only to pass, then pull back into the right lane.
Number 5: Weaving in and out of traffic
Unpredictable vehicles trying to get ahead usually gain only a few car lengths. They put everyone else on high alert trying to predict where they are headed, raising blood pressure all across the highway.
The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation quotes a study showing “a 60% chance that [a weaving] motorist may be driving drunk or is under the influence of drugs.”
If you observe this type of driving behavior, notify the police or the State Patrol.
Number 4: Improper Merging
- Drivers who merge onto the Interstate highway create problems when they do not adjust their speed to fit in with other vehicles in the near lane.
- Drivers already on the highway make merging difficult when they refuse to speed up or slow down for a merging vehicle.
Be considerate of other drivers: adjust your speed to the flow of traffic when merging onto the highway, and slow down to make room for a vehicle entering the highway.
Number 3: Tailgating
Tailgating is a major cause of car crashes and is often indicative of a rude, aggressive driver.
Take a deep breath–slow down and let these people pass, or move onto the shoulder to let them go by if you must.
Number 2: Not Signaling Turns
Not signaling puts fellow travelers on hyper-alert and raises hostility, much like tailgating. It is a failure to communicate.
Signal every time you turn a corner, enter or leave the road, pass another vehicle, or change lanes. And don’t forget to turn the signal off when you’re finished!
Number 1: Using a Mobile Phone while Driving
This is perhaps the most dangerous of all rude driving habits. Using a cellphone leads to distraction, which means we have stopped interacting with other drivers and are no longer cooperating to keep the road safe.
Turn your phone off in the car, or pull over and park when making a call. Remember, even hands-free conversations can distract you from the road!
Summer is nearly upon us, and more families will be on the highways and byways. Remember, lives depend on our ability to communicate our intentions to other drivers. Kindness, consideration and respect for our fellow humans will go a long way to make driving safer and less stressful for everyone.