5 Steps to Being a Courteous Driver


Be courteous and safe

During behind the wheel and private driving lessons, we aim to reinforce with new drivers the importance of being courteous to other motorists, and ultimately how this impacts the safety of you, your passengers and others.  Everyone’s heard of road rage incidents, and most, if not all, could have been prevented if drivers were courteous, or simply nice, to each other while traveling down the road. 

In light of this, we teach new drivers to be cognizant of these five points whenever they are behind the wheel:

  1. Pay attention when stopped at traffic lights
  2. Use your turn signals when turning or changing lanes
  3. Don’t tie up the left lane
  4. Never tailgate the car in front of you
  5. Let those trying to merge over

In our experience, doing and following these simple steps can help prevent wrecks, avoid traffic tickets, prevent aggressive driving or road rage situations and make you a courteous driver in general.  Let’s dive into these five points.

Paying attention and the basics

Paying attention at traffic lights:  Anyone who has been driving for a period of time has experienced this. The light turns green, and the car in front of you doesn’t move. The driver is clearly not paying attention, and these days most likely doing something on their phone.  Horns start honking and the car finally starts moving. 

Using turn signals:  This one really should be a no-brainer, especially since it’s the law in Virginia!  Anytime you make a turn or change lanes, you have to use your turn signal indicating such.  This gives those behind and around you advance notice of your intentions, and can help them in their decision making.  

Tips for courteous driving in Virginia

Use the proper travel lane

Don’t tie up the left lane:  We observed on one of the overhead message boards on Interstate 95 a few months back a great message. It read, “The left lane is for passing, not cruising.”  We are strong advocates for obeying the posted speed limit (for obvious reasons), but do acknowledge that there are quite a lot of other drivers that don’t. 

The purpose of the left travel lane, especially on interstate highways, is for faster moving vehicles.  There are even road signs in Virginia advising slower traffic to keep right.  We stress to new drivers during behind the wheel the importance of being aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t be the “slow poke” tying up the fast lane!

Don't provoke others

Don’t tailgate:  Another no-brainer here, as it’s not only unsafe and illegal, but can also provoke a dangerous encounter with another driver.  Maintaining a safe following distance is key to your safety and that of others. 

Lastly, allow other cars to merge:  This is a big sticking point with our team and it really drives us nuts when we see it happen, which is far too often.  A driver is trying to merge onto the road you’re traveling, such as in interstate off ramp, and others are speeding up to prevent this car from merging over.  Really?  Will that extra car length really make a big difference in the amount of time it will take you to reach your destination. Nope, don’t think so.  Yet daily we see this occurring, and it’s just flat out rude. 

Behind the wheel and private lesson students receive a lot of information on how to drive safely, and these are amongst the most popular tips we provide for being courteous to others. 

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