CAR AND DRIVER TIPS — Tip #9 Courtesy Is Critical

Everyone who drives has had at least one run-in with a discourteous driver.  In recent years experiences such as these had led to a new phenomenon called “Road Rage.” Sad to say, awful experiences as a result of outrageous acts perpetrated against other drivers have resulted in damage to property, injury to drivers and passengers and even death.

As one who had plied the highways and streets for more than fifty-eight years,  and having been a former discourteous driver, I can say with assurance that courtesy is critical to being a good safe and, yes, happy driver.

Hopefully, one of the following suggestions will help you or someone you influence to realize that, as we drive, courtesy is critical.

1. Hand Signal Courtesy

There are occasions when we note almost universal courtesy among drivers.  This is refreshing.  I experienced one today.  I had rolled up to a light and was about the third car back.,  To my right a lady’s car was poised to enter the highway from a gasoline station.,  A line of cars was behind mine.  As the light changed for our lane I motioned for her to enter the lane ahead of me.  She smiled and waved as she drove out.  Probably you have benefited from this small kindness several times as have I.  Wouldn’t it be nice if this level of courtesy permeated many more driving situations.

A word of caution is in order even here though.  Any time I give a hand signal to another driver I try to remind myself of my responsibility.  I might accidentally signal a driver into a lane and into the path of a car that driver could not see.  In other words, before giving an “go ahead” signal to another driver, I need to be sure it is safe for that driver to proceed.  It takes only a moment make sure it is safe, but it is vitally important to do so.  If in doubt, of course, it is better not to signal at all.

2. Driving With the Traffic Flow

I have heard law enforcement people mention the importance of “driving with the flow of traffic.” What is meant is that everyone is probably safer if all who are traveling along that roadway in the same direction are going approximately the same speed.  Of course this rule of thumb like others may be abused.,  Driving above posted limits is still illegal regardless of whether or not several around you or me are doing it.  But, as much as possible we ought not to  allow our presence on the highway to be an obstacle to other drivers who are driving legally and safely but faster than we.

3.  ,  Courtesy in Passing

Bicycles, Amish buggies, motor scooters and pedestrians are all traveling much slower than the average automobile.  For safety’s sake all whom we pass deserve our care in their behalf.   As we close quickly on these in our driving, it is vitally important to,  be alert that there is ample space available for safe passing.

It is unsafe (and probably illegal) to squeeze past a bike or motor scooter giving just inches in order to meet an oncoming vehicle at the same time.  We have all seen this probably.  What if the biker spills at that moment–very easily a mishap, even a tragedy.  Wouldn’t it be better to hold up and pass the small vehicle or pedestrian as though we were passing an automobile?

In our area it is common to come upon an Amish horse-drawn carriage.  I try to remember two things in such cases: the horse is an animal that can be startled and may bolt into my path.  That small vehicle affords no protection for its occupants.  These are reason enough to pass with wide generous clearance and with the least disturbance possible.

During inclement weather, often there is water on the roadway in seams or puddles.,  As a courteous driver I don’t want to splash that water on the people who are depending upon me to give them a break.  You have probably been walking somewhere and have had a passing car splash you.,  I don’t need to ask you how you felt.  No fair chuckling with your passengers about how the column of water you sprayed almost knocked a biker off his two-wheeler.

3. Responding to Discourteous Drivers

It took me many years to give a proper response to discourteous drivers.,  If I had not been a Christian, it would probably have taken a lot longer.  Let me give a few examples.

Driving at night we are often approached by drivers who have the high beams of their headlights blazing into our eyes.,  It doesn’t hurt to give them a quick flash of ours to remind them.  What happens after that is most important though.  If the person doesn’t go to low beams there is the temptation to “bright light” that driver.  Stop and think!  When I do that, I am setting up a dangerous situation.  Neither driver can see very well. There could be a head-on collision.,  That is very high-priced retaliation.

In recent years this is what I do. I quickly ascertain whether or not those bright lights are really a danger to me or merely an annoyance.  In most cases I don’t even use my high beams to flash the driver–I simply concentrate on doing my part. Usually in seconds we pass each other and the incident is over.  My reward? I feel a lot better about myself and I know my conduct  has not endangered another.

There are situations in which overly aggressive drivers use their vehicles to “run a bluff” with us in order to be first or to take some perceived advantage.,  What is the best response?,  I believe it is simply to let them do it.  Vehicles are expensive.  Safety to lives is important. Peace of mind is enjoyable.  Courtesy has hidden dividends.  Many have been the times when, for the above reasons, I have relinquished “my rights” in such situations only to see the discourteous driver embarrassing himself by blundering into an error brought on by his own thoughtlessness.  We ought not be courteous drivers in order to bring smug satisfaction to our lives but an occasional soft chuckle might not hurt!

4. “Have a Nice Day”

Have you ever seen a discourteous driver race an elderly couple’s car to a vacant parking place in a shopping mall only to notice him holding the door for someone on the way into the store?

What does this tell us?  To me it indicates that when we get behind the wheel of a car it is easy to forget our manners.,  Most strong young men would not elbow an old lady out of the way to go through a door first.  Why would we do that in a car?

If, when we are driving, we keep ourselves aware of courtesy to others around us, it is easier to remember that peace of mind is the path to a nice day.  Usually honorable conduct does not go unnoticed.  If you are a Christian, I know the Lord will help you have a nice day as you simply do what is right.  Have you ever thought about the effect upon others your conduct has?  Negatively, the exact opposite of courteous driving, a thing called “road rage”, will not only steal your peace of mind, it has been known to take lives.  Do you see why I say “courtesy is critical?”

Yes, our conduct does impact others.  This example took place as I was walking from my car to a shopping center.  I noticed a discarded bottle on the pavement in my path.  I picked it up and tossed it into a nearby trash receptacle.  On the way back out of the store a distinguished elderly gentleman walked up to me.  He said, “Sir, I saw you pick up that old bottle.  You did a nice thing.” I felt good.  Yep, courtesy is critical.

Have a nice (driving) day!





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