Tempers are running hot these days. People are frustrated and road rage is at an all-time high. Instead of constantly being ready to diffuse a situation once it has happened, there are simple things we can all do to help prevent anger from escalating to that point in the first place. Being considerate and expressing gratitude towards your fellow drivers can go a long way to minimize tension – not only does it feel good in the moment, but good deeds usually pay off because people will pass them on and “pay it forward.” One good deed could start a wave of good deeds.
Rather than buying the driver in the car behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru a $9 latte, why not make someone’s day by being a more courteous driver? The best part? Practicing good driving etiquette and being courteous won’t cost you a thing.
Let Drivers In
We’ve all got places to go. After all, that’s why we’re driving in the first place. Letting someone merge in front of you is a much nicer gesture than blocking them out. Letting one car in won’t make that much of a difference to your commute and it’s good karma.
Even if zippered merging is the proper way to drive, if someone goes out of their way to make space and let you in, thank them with a quick wave. Just make sure you use all five fingers, so your intentions aren’t misinterpreted as an act of aggression. There’s obviously no obligation to wave, but it’s so easy and has such a big impact that it seems crazy not to.
Even if it is rarely, if ever, enforced, the left lane is for passing. Full stop. If you want to pass a slower vehicle ahead, pull out, overtake them, and move back over so that you aren’t holding up people behind you. Sitting in the left lane causes unnecessary congestion. Even if you’re driving at the speed limit and someone would have to theoretically break the law to pass you, it isn’t your job to uphold the law. This is even more important when emergency vehicles are attempting to pass. An extra minute likely won’t make a big difference to your day, but it could mean life or death for someone else.
Leave Some Space
Again, I’ve never seen this enforced, but it is technically illegal to stop in the middle of an intersection or block a crosswalk. It creates pandemonium for other drivers and pedestrians, plus it doesn’t get you to your destination any faster. It just causes gridlock and blind rage. If you don’t think you can get through an intersection before the traffic light changes, wait behind the line.
Watch for Bikes
Cars have bumpers, cyclists have bones. There’s a lot of animosity between these two camps, but the reality is that both sides can do a lot better. A collision won’t seriously injure a driver who is surrounded by steel beams and airbags, but it could be fatal for someone riding a bicycle. Dedicated bike lane infrastructure has a long way to go in most cities, but it doesn’t take much time or effort to give cyclists some room. A working system would also need cyclists to follow road rules as well and have everyone be respectful and courteous to each other.