The unspoken rules of driving etiquette aren’t always obvious, but they can help keep everyone safe and make driving a pleasant experience.
One unwritten rule is to give the driver behind you at least three seconds before passing them. This is so they have time to stop and brake if needed.
1. Be Prepared
Safe driving is a complex process and requires ongoing concentration, attention and the ability to anticipate upcoming hazards and the impending actions of other drivers.
* Prepare – Always check your vehicle, including your brakes and all fluid levels before you hit the road and make sure your engine is running smoothly. This will help you avoid the dangers of braking or skidding in adverse weather conditions and allow you to react quickly to problems that arise.
ANTICIPATE – The first element of any good defensive driving strategy is to constantly scan the surrounding area while you drive, keeping a mental inventory of traffic lights, lane closures and other conditions that could lead to an accident or other dangerous situation. Then, you will be able to make adjustments to avoid the problem before it occurs.
A constant scanning process can also help you to ensure that no vehicles are in your blind spot when changing lanes or temporarily entering a bicycle or bus lane. It is important to make this habit an automatic one, as it can save you or someone else from being harmed in the event that something unexpected happens while you are driving.
DON’T DRIVE WHEN YOU HAVE A POWERFUL STUPIDITY or PURELY USE ILLEGAL DEVICES, such as marijuana and alcohol, when on the road. Using these substances can impair your abilities to concentrate and make good judgments, increasing the risk of an accident.
Another common way to stay alert while on the road is by taking deep breaths before starting your journey and throughout the drive. Breathing slows your heart rate and blood pressure, which helps to reduce the level of anxiety you might experience.
2. Keep Your Eye on the Road
When you’re driving, it’s easy to zone out and forget to keep your eyes on the road. Even if the road isn’t crowded, it’s a good idea to practice scanning your surroundings and looking for potential hazards, like children or animals running into the road.
When scanning, allow a visual lead-time of 20-30 seconds to see what is happening far ahead of your vehicle. This will give you time to prepare for what’s ahead and react if there is an accident or road construction in front of you.
Keeping your eye on the road is especially important when you’re driving in bad weather or during traffic congestion, because it gives you time to anticipate what could happen and prepare accordingly. For example, if you see a taller vehicle ahead of you suddenly changing lanes, this can indicate an upcoming road block or accident.
In addition, you should keep a safe distance from the vehicles around you when scanning. This means allowing a space cushion on all sides of your car to give you enough room to maneuver and brake should something go wrong.
If you’re going to make a phone call or text while driving, set it to silent and pull over to a safe area to finish the conversation. You can also sync your phone to your vehicle’s Bluetooth system, so it can play music or change songs without distracting you while driving.
Distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic accidents, and drivers under 25 years old are especially at risk. In addition to using handheld cell phones, young drivers also tend to be distracted by other things such as music, video games and social media. Fortunately, new technology is available to help prevent inattentive drivers from causing a crash by monitoring their behavior and alerting them to infractions.
3. Be Polite
Being polite when you are driving makes you a better driver and can even save your life. It can help you avoid road rage and anger which can lead to accidents and verbal and physical disputes between you and other drivers on the road.
A poll by PEMCO Insurance found that drivers are seeing fewer courteous gestures from other drivers on the road than they used to. These include giving way, waving, signaling and allowing someone to pass.
It may seem a small gesture to give thanks to other drivers for giving you way when they didn’t have to, but it can make a big difference to the other motorists on the road and could encourage them to be a little more lenient towards other motorists in future. A simple hand wave or nod can go a long way and can change someone’s attitude completely.
In addition, a quick courtesy wave is always appreciated when you are given a lane merge, especially if it’s on a busy highway. It can also help you to keep your cool if you are stuck in a traffic jam and need to wait for someone to let you through.
You should also keep in mind that it’s always important to stay in the left lane of traffic, even when you are passing slower-moving vehicles. This is to avoid tailgating and it can also prevent other vehicles from passing on the right, which can cause bottlenecks.
You can also be thoughtful to ambulances, fire trucks and police patrols on the road. These emergency services are on the road to assist other motorists and they often have to navigate through traffic jams to get to their destination in time. By being a courteous driver, you can help these services reach their destination in time to save lives.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Most drivers are apprehensive about putting themselves and their passengers at risk, but not all of them. The fact of the matter is that you need to ask questions if you want to make the most of your commute or your night on the town. There are many websites that provide helpful tips and tricks for both first time and seasoned drivers. Taking advantage of these resources can be the key to unlocking your driving doors and keeping you safe at the same time. The best way to do this is by learning how to ask the right questions in the right manner.
5. Be Honest
If you’re a driver, being honest with yourself is important. You need to know when you are getting tired and need to pull over or call a friend or use a ride-sharing service to get home.
Honesty with yourself will help you avoid putting yourself or others in a dangerous situation. For example, if you have a driver who tailgates you and flashes their lights while driving at night, it’s better to leave than to risk your own safety and the lives of other drivers.
The same is true of texting while driving. Research has shown that even for short periods of time, texting can disrupt the way drivers look at the road and cause them to lose sight of their surroundings.
As a result, it’s crucial to be able to refocus your eyes on the road when you are looking at your phone or another screen while driving. It also helps to be able to see where you are going when the road is changing, as cars, pedestrians and animals can suddenly appear in your path.
A good way to practice this is to practice driving around with a driver who will give you honest feedback about your driving. Have them grade you on everything from your lane changes to your turn signal indicators and blind spot checks.
The Honest Truth campaign has been developed through collaboration with the emergency services, road safety organisations and driving instructors across the UK. It aims to give young drivers the truth about safe driving, without patronising or sugar-coating. It uses eye-catching images of young men and women with the heads of animals to identify poor driving habits that can lead to crashes.