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Driver Etiquette 101

Updated on November 28, 2012
A Simple Wave Goes a Long Way on the Road
A Simple Wave Goes a Long Way on the Road | Source

What Happened to Driver Etiquette?

What has happened to basic driving etiquette? It seems it has taken the by-way. Gone the way of the milkman and ice deliveries. Something of the past that we can only be nostalgic for.

What do I mean when I say, "Driving etiquette"? I'm talking about basic courtesy of our fellow drivers when they are behind the wheel. I'm talking about the "thank you wave". The "go ahead pull out" wave. Or the courtesy blinker, letting me know, the driver in front of me, intends to change lanes or make a turn at the next street. Don't let me forget the high-beamer and the tailgater.

Basic Etiquette Behind the Wheel

When I leave a nice gap between my vehicle and the vehicle in front of me, at the merge, I want my "thank you wave" and I'm not talking about the "one-finger-wave" either. I want to know that the other driver recognizes I did him a favor and give me my wave, letting me know he appreciated my courtesy and maybe he'll pass it on.

I always give the "go ahead and pull out" wave, especially when the driver has been waiting for an opening to join the line of traffic. My blinker light is activated more often than my brakes. I don't need the guy tailgating me surprised when I suddenly hit my brakes to make my turn. It'll be dicey whether he can react fast enough to avoid hitting me, so I don't go there. I set my blinker into action well before my turn, yet not so far ahead that it appears I'm an idiot that left it on by mistake.

When I'm driving at night I only use my high beams when necessary. When I do use them I keep my finger on the switch, so when a driver approaches from the opposite direction I can switch them off immediately.

Use Your Blinker to Signal a Lane Change or Intention to Turn.
Use Your Blinker to Signal a Lane Change or Intention to Turn.

Tailgate? Forget it. I don't want anything to do with jeopardizing my health and safety just so I can crawl up your bumper and piss you off. It won't get me anywhere. For those tailgating me, have at it! I have my side mirrors and my rear view mirror adjusted so that if a driver is following close to the back of my car, I can't see them. I learned this trick when my rear view mirror fell off of the windshield. I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxed I felt driving because I couldn't see the driver behind me save for my side view mirror, which I quickly adjusted to view vehicles at a distance. My drive and my blood pressure have both benefit from that little trick of the mirrors.

My driver etiquette complaints may sound petty, they are. It's the little things that add up to a lack of driver etiquette resulting in road rage.

The Diabolical Driver!
The Diabolical Driver! | Source

Etiquette of the Diabolical Driver

I could be like many, many, many of the drivers on the road today. I'll call myself the Diabolical Driver for these scenarios!

Heavy traffic, you're waiting to pull into the lane, for what seems like forever. Here I come Diabolical Driver, instead of giving you a break and waving you in, I can stick so close to the car in front of me that air couldn't squeeze through! You'll think I'm a part of the car in front of me. You're not getting in front of me, no way, hah! You'll have to wait for some other chump to play nice guy and let you in.

At the merge, forget it! I have my bumper mashed up his tailpipe, you're not getting between us! Not even if I have to have a near miss side-swipe with your car! You're not getting in front of me! Yeah, I saw the merge sign. Yeah, I see you're running out of roadway, but ya know what, grandma, too bad! I'm not letting anybody in!

Signal lights, what signal lights? Diabolical Driver turns when she darn well please. Change lanes at her whim and you better watch out cause if you rear end me it's your fault, not mine, hah!

You don't like my high beams on? Too bad, that's the way i roll! When I'm feeling particularly Diabolical I will tailgate you at 60mph with my high beams on!! Try that on and see how it fits!

High Beams Can Temporarily Blind Drivers
High Beams Can Temporarily Blind Drivers

Everyday that I have to drive somewhere I come upon several drivers that maneuver their vehicles exactly like the Diabolical Driver. What a tragedy. Yet so many people drive like that. Do they realize they are not displaying proper driving etiquette? Do they know their driving practices are dangerous and upsetting, for other drivers as well as it is for them? Maybe they don't realize any of this. On that assumption the table below is a compilation of some of the worst driving offenses.

Worst Driving Offenses

Faux Pas
Offender's Purpose or Mentality
Honking at or crowding a pedestrian.
Purpose: To encourage the pedestrian to walk faster.
Following another vehicle too close.
Purpose: To make the person in front of you move out of the way.
Driving Under Posted Speed Limit
For unknown reasons a person drives below the speed limit.
Driving in the Fast Lane Under the Posted Speed
Driving at or below the speed limit in the passing lane of a freeway.
Mentality: The speed limit is so-n-so and I don't have to move.
Driving With High Beams On
When an on coming vehicle doesn't lower their headlights.
Simply forgot they were on. Don't understand their beam is blinding on coming traffic.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Mentality: I won't get caught this time.
Blocking Right of Way
For example, at an intersection a vehicle stops before it is through the intersection blocking other drivers.
Purpose: To get through the yellow light regardless of who they block. Not paying attention.
Not Yielding
When a driver does not heed the yield sign.
Mentality: Not paying attention or figures the other car will move out of his way.
Not Allowing Merge
In heavy traffic a driver tailgates the car in front of him so that another driver cannot get in between them at the merge.
Purpose: To block any driver from pulling in front of him at the merge.
Lane Change Without Signaling
When a driver doesn't turn on his signal light when they change lanes.
Mentality: Not paying attention and concern that if they turn on their signal light they will be blocked by another driver.
Distracted Driver
Putting on makeup, eating, talking on the phone, anything that distracts the driver from driving.
Mentality: I can multi-task and still drive good. (they are wrong)
Ice and/or Snow on Vehicle
When snow or ice has built up on a vehicle and they drive on the freeway. The ice and snow eventually come off, hitting the car behind them.
Mentality: It's snow, it won't hurt anyone.

If we could all take a moment to practice driving etiquette maybe we can make road rage a thing of the past like the milkman and ice deliveries.

Thumbs Up! It counts as a thank you.
Thumbs Up! It counts as a thank you.


Submit a Comment

  • Msmillar profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Valley Springs

    Hi mts1098! I know exactly what you mean. I had a CJ5 years ago (lotsa fun there!!). Corvette drivers give the "V" aka peace sign, when we pass one another. I agree, somebody has got to do something about the merge! Happy Hubbing! :)

  • profile image


    5 years ago

    One of the things I love about driving is the Jeep Wrangler wave...Jeep owners, including myself, will wave to another Jeep owner unconditionally and this has been the case since I owned my first Jeep in 1998...Once of the things I hate about driving is the 4 way stop or alternate merge...cheers nonetheless


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