Is there an etiquette for driving?

There are times when I’m on the road and wonder “Who taught these people to drive!? Seriously!”  Some rules of the road are more about the courtesy and common sense than they are about laws.  Everyone that drives a vehicle regardless of their age, sex, height or weight is accepting a responsibility to join a community of other drivers traveling together.  But, we often do not treat it like a responsibility; rather, we act like we’re entitled.  Think about how you drive and how your friends drive and answer these questions.  

  • When should I drive in the far left lane?  
  • Is it your right to drive in any lane you want?  
  • Do you find yourself trying to slow everyone down when you think they’re driving too fast?  
  • Do you check your review mirror to keep track of your pace compared to surrounding traffic? 
  • Do you often get passed on the right?
  • While you’re actively driving, do you often text, read, eat or reach in the back seat?
  • What does it mean when someone flashes their headlights behind you or coming toward you?
  • When a lane ends, how should everyone merge together?

I’m sure there is someone out there with all the answers but are they based on laws or simply good driving etiquette?  Some would say that the farther away from high traffic areas, the more relaxed our tolerance to other drivers becomes.  I can say that driving away from Northern Virginia on my way to Louisiana one year, I made that observation first hand.  You could argue that larger population areas simply have more traffic so there will be unavoidable frustrations.  It certainly makes the high tech traffic control in the movie  I,Robot seem very attractive!

The way we drive is very personal.  We treat our cars as an unconscious shield between us and other people and sometimes an extension of ourselves.  So it’s not uncommon for us to be defensive about our driving or unable to comment or correct others about their driving.  A challenge for each of us this year is to consider that by sharing genuine concern for someone’s safety, a simple offer of advice on how to improve a driving skill, we are finally being honest with each other and encouraging the greater good of the traffic community, maybe, just maybe, we could make a difference in your next commute!

Share your ideas, comments and links!

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