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Mind your manners on the road

By Stephanie Georgopulos

 

Ideally, the road is a considerate, friendly place—drivers happily allowing each other to merge on a crowded highway, making room for cars to take that left turn in the middle of a long line of traffic and yielding to pedestrians when they’re trying to cross the street. Sounds a little too perfect, right?

Putting our dreams aside, considerate drivers are the unicorns of the travel world (except for you, obviously, for you are the ultimate master of the road and everyone else should have their licenses revoked). Even so, say you wanted to brush-up on your standard driving etiquette—not that you need it, of course. Here are a few ways to mind your manners on the road.

1. Let people merge.

The amount of time it costs you to let someone merge in front of you on the highway is probably no more than five seconds. Don’t tell me you’ve never spent 20 minutes circling a parking lot to find “the perfect spot.” You can spare the five seconds. And spare it you shall. Those five seconds will make your fellow driver’s journey less stressful, which will make conditions on the road for everyone around you much safer.

2. Remember: The left lane is for passing!

While you may not be in a hurry, there are likely drivers on the road who need to get where they’re going as soon as possible. And it’s basically a proven fact that one of the most annoying types of drivers is the slow poke gumming up the works in the left lane. If you’re less living life in the fast lane and more of a slow rider, keep in mind that not everyone else is in enjoyment mode—some are getting down to business, trying to get to where they’re going. It’s Driver’s Ed 101, though you may have forgotten: The left lane is the passing lane. So keep in the right lane unless you’re passing, and the people who gotta do what they gotta do will appreciate you for it.

3. Yield to pedestrians.

Look, this isn’t a romantic comedy. Accidents happen, and they will most likely not result in the star-crossed meeting with the love of your life. You’re more likely to find yourselves in front of a judge. Even when pedestrians are totally taking advantage of that stop sign you’re stuck at, they still have the right of way. Walkers and drivers can coexist wherever there’s mutual respect. Acknowledge them with eye contact or a wave, and you’ll be on your way before you can say, “My lawyer will get in touch.”

4. Be extra mindful of your driving when you have a passenger in the car.

Whether you’re just joking around or being plain irresponsible, no one wants to ride shotgun with someone who makes them feel unsafe. (Speaking of safety, did you know that the Chevy Cruze was the first car in its class with 10 standard air bags, and even today, no car in its class offers more*?) My dad has a slew of optical illusions up his sleeve that make driving with him feel like you’re starring in a Final Destination movie, so I feel like I’m an expert on this one. When you’re the driver, your passenger’s life (or your backseater’s life) is in your hands. No fast, sharp turns, no speeding, no cutting people off. Take care of your passengers—they may not say so, but they’ll certainly appreciate you for it.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Stephanie Georgopulos is an editor at Thought Catalog. Her work has been featured on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Awl, Gizmodo, The Next Web, Refinery 29 and elsewhere. Email her at Stephanie@thoughtcatalog.com.

*Based on GM compact car segment. Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.


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