It’s the little things that help you keep your cool during rush hour, on a road trip, or even during a regular drive through a packed grocery store parking lot. That’s because a little etiquette can go a long way on the road. From lane merges to left turns, bikers to cyclists, use these tips to be a friendlier, safer driver.
Do the Wave!
It’s a small gesture, but it can make a big difference to the person who has just let you move in front of them in a crowded highway lane. If another driver is kind enough to make way for you, give them a quick courtesy wave of thanks. It’s the polite thing to do!
Learn How to Merge Lanes
When two lanes combine, drivers in both lanes need to be conscious of the change. The key is to be patient, no matter which lane you’re in. That means, if you’re on the main road, let other drivers in front of you. Not only is it nicer, it’s actually safer. To do this, the Minnesota Department of Transportation recommends a method called the “zipper merge,” which dictates that drivers merge between every other car (this is especially applicable for lane closures due to construction). This method helps prevent too much backup and creates a less stressful driving experience for everyone.
Be Courteous to Motorcycles and Bicycles
Bikers and cyclists often have a hard time staying safe while on the road. Since they are smaller and often less visible, you should try and take extra care when sharing the road with them.
The NHTSA offers some great advice about sharing the road with motorcycles, including leaving three to four seconds of following distance when passing or driving behind a motorcycle and always signaling when you change lanes.
And even though there are bicycle lanes in plenty of cities, it can still be tough to navigate a street safely when the bike lane merges with a regular one or you encounter a left-turning cyclist. According to the American Safety Council, the law gives the right of way to no one, but it does state who must give up the right of way. Bicycles are considered “vehicles,” and are subject to the same rules as other drivers. When turning left at an intersection, drivers and bicyclists should both yield to oncoming traffic.
Exercise patience and caution when driving with bikers, cyclists, and other motorists and everyone on the road will be safer.
Move Over, Slow Down, and Work Together
Many states have a “move over” law that requires drivers to move aside for emergency vehicles, either those approaching from behind or parked on the side of the road. When making way for emergency vehicles, be especially conscious of other drivers, who will be shifting lanes just like you. Be nice and work with other drivers by keeping an eye on where they’re changing lanes, always using your turn signal, and try not to slam on your brakes so the driver behind you has enough time to stop.
But Most Important of All…
What’s the best etiquette rule to follow while on the road? The Golden Rule, of course: Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. Be courteous when you drive and you’ll find your time in the car a little easier to manage. Remember, courtesy is contagious!
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