Eight Rules of Driving Etiquette

Whether you’re driving to work or a long road trip, common courtesy can make a big difference. Follow these eight rules of driving etiquette and save yourself from getting pulled over or being involved in an accident.


There are many unspoken etiquette standards drivers hold themselves to. Some of these include giving pedestrians the right of way, using turn signals, and following speed limits.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

The key to good driving is keeping your eyes on the road. It’s important to look ahead and be aware of what is going on around you so that you can take defensive driving techniques if necessary.

Most drivers make mistakes because of bad habits in how they use their eyes while they are driving. For example, many new drivers focus their eyes directly in front of them, making it difficult to notice something far ahead that could be a problem.

It is better to look 15-20 seconds ahead of your car, farther if possible. This gives you time to recognize potential hazards, like a vehicle coming up from behind or a child playing on the side of the road, before they become a problem.

In addition, if you have to change lanes on the highway, be sure to give yourself time so that you can respond smoothly instead of suddenly reacting to an issue. This is called the visual lead-time principle, according to research by Nawrot and colleagues.

Driver distractions reduce awareness to the environment, slow reaction times and limit driver performance. These distractions can include listening to music, eating, grooming or talking on the phone.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving with your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds at 55 mph is equivalent to driving blindfolded for the length of a football field! These distractions can be particularly dangerous for young people, who make up a significant portion of drivers involved in crashes.

Don’t Linger in the Left Lane

The left lane should be reserved only for passing other cars. Lingering in the left lane, however, is a major traffic offense that causes drivers to slow down and block other vehicles. This can lead to increased traffic congestion and road rage, so it’s important to understand the laws in your state that govern proper lane usage.

Many states have laws that prohibit driving in the left lane, and some even fine people who do it. In some cases, a ticket for this offense can be worth up to $1,000, and multiple tickets can be a misdemeanor.

This problem is especially prevalent on highways, where lane changes are common. Research shows that lane changing leads to about 10 percent of highway accidents.

Drivers who linger in the left lane can also cause other drivers to be frustrated with them, which can cause tailgating and other dangerous behaviors. Plus, they can create a situation where slower vehicles in the far left lane don’t have to move over for faster traffic.

As a result, police have begun to issue tickets to those lingering in the left lane. In Illinois, for example, troopers are deploying covert vehicles to aggressively catch lingerers and hand out $120 tickets.

Other states are enforcing left-lane laws, too. In Delaware, for example, State Police have been writing more citations and sending out more educational messages to drivers to move over when passing slower vehicles. The hope is that these efforts will reduce the number of lingerers on the road.

Turn Off Your Brights

Whether you’re driving on the road at night or during the day, there are some driving manners that should always be followed. One of them is turning off your brights.

Many drivers ignore this important safety measure. They may be concerned about blinding other drivers or simply think they can see well enough without them.

But if you’re driving in dark or low-visibility situations like fog, rain or snow, your high beams should be turned off. This is because high beams put out light that is reflected back by the water droplets in the fog or rain, making it more difficult for you to see.

When you’re on a curve or at an intersection, it’s also a good idea to turn off your brights until you have completed the maneuver. Otherwise, you could blind someone who is trying to cross the road or pass you.

You can even use a quick flash of your lights to warn other drivers of debris or a deer in the road. This will let them know you’re aware and to slow down or take a closer look.

Other common distractions include using cell phones, reading or watching a video, adjusting your radio station, and daydreaming. Taking your attention away from the road is a major mistake, and should be avoided at all costs.

Don’t Throw Trash Out the Window

It used to be pretty common for people to throw trash out of their car windows. The practice was probably not considered littering then – though it’s definitely not considered proper driving manners today.

The problem with throwing garbage out of the window is that it is not only a waste of fuel and water, but it also causes problems for other motorists. For example, it attracts animals to the side of the road and can lead to accidents.

One of the most common types of trash that is thrown out of cars is food scraps. These are biodegradable and will break down over time, but they are also not a good idea for the environment.

A more logical way to dispose of these foods is to simply put them in the bin you use for recyclables. However, many people still think that throwing them out of their vehicle is a good idea because they are able to keep them out of sight.

When you’re on the road, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to take care of your belongings. Often, it’s the last thing on your mind when you’re tired and want to stop at a rest area for some lunch. That’s why it’s a good idea to put any trash in the right container so that it doesn’t blow around. You can even find recycling containers at many convenience stores that can be placed in the car for easy access.

Don’t Turn Without a Signal

Turn signals are a key safety feature of your vehicle and help you communicate with other drivers. Failing to use your signal when changing lanes or turning can cause you to crash into another vehicle.

The best way to avoid this problem is to learn to use your signal whenever you change lanes or turn. This will make it easier to do so and will keep you from causing a crash in the process.

For example, imagine you’re traveling at a steady speed and someone behind you changes lanes in front of you without blinking their signal. This is a clear violation of the law and can lead to a car accident.

In fact, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) reports that turn signal neglect is a contributing factor in up to two million car accidents each year.

This is a huge number of accidents that could be avoided with the simple act of signaling. Moreover, failure to signal is a serious traffic violation that can lead to a ticket.

In addition to this, it can be a major issue with your auto insurance provider. Having a violation on your record will increase your premiums, and it can also affect your ability to file a claim in the event of an accident.

Give Thanks to Other Drivers

There are many courtesy gestures on the road that can make driving easier for everyone. From allowing another driver into your lane to giving the go-ahead at a traffic light, there are several ways you can show someone else you appreciate their assistance.

However, a lot of drivers may not know that one common way to say thank you is actually in breach of the Highway Code. It could result in a hefty fine and points on your licence.

According to a study by National Tyres and Autocare, one in five Brits flash their headlights when they’re saying thanks. Others prefer the classic wave and one in six chooses a simple thumbs up.

But if you’re not sure which option is right for you, there are other ways to show your gratitude that won’t get you into trouble with the law.

For example, a survey found that some Kiwi drivers like to thank other drivers by sending a friendly toot of the horn. Meanwhile, Aucklanders are most likely to flash their hazard lights in appreciation.

It’s always nice to hear a little encouragement from fellow drivers, so if you can find a way to let them know how much you appreciate them, it’s worth it. It will make them feel good, too. Plus, it can help keep your own driving manners on the up and up.