Tips for Proper Courtesy and Distribution on the Road

Please take notice! Courtesy and proper distribution of traffic on the road goes a really long way toward peace and happiness!  Seriously.  What I am about to say is ugly and I know a few people that will hate me for it.  But it needs to be said. 

Me on the Road

My daily commute consists of driving on Rte. 295 in DC, which is like a three-lane inner-city highway.  The lanes are generally narrow, the speeds vary, and drivers are out of their frickin’ minds.

I am a very engaged driver on the road in that I am always anticipating what others will do.  I am aggressive, although not as much as I used to be.  Since I am aggressive, I respect other aggressive drivers on the road.  I know enough to know when someone is more aggressive than me and I generally try to accommodate, rather than challenge, those drivers.  But, as aggressive as I am in terms of speed and maneuvering, I try to follow as many rules of etiquette on the road as possible.  

I use my turn signals to let you know what I am about to do, I always try to acknowledge another person’s right of way, and I yield where I am supposed yield.  In my younger years, I tended to get upset over things like someone cutting me off or riding too close to my rear.  Nowadays, these things don’t anger me as much because I can anticipate when someone is going to cut me off and I tend to submit to someone coming up close behind me in the fast lane by getting over to the right to allow them to pass. 

What angers me now more than anything are drivers that don’t know the basics of courtesy and the art of distribution on the road. Courteous behavior are the little niceties we allow each other, such as allowing another person that has properly signaled to cut in front of you even though you have the right of way.  The art of distribution is being aware of where your vehicle is in space relative to the other vehicles around you.  It is ensuring that you are not needlessly blocking passage by another vehicle.  

The Basics

I shouldn’t have to review the basics of road manners, but it is necessary.  Just think of these tips as kind of an Emily Dickinson version of road etiquette: 

  • When pulling up to a four way stop sign at the same time as other cars, the car to your right has the right of way.  Allow that person to pass before you proceed.
  • When entering a shopping center and there are two or three entering roadways with stop signs, be aware of whether you actually have a stop sign before stopping.  Many shopping centers automatically give the right of way to the car entering the shopping center from the main roadway.  If you have the right of way, do not stop, you are slowing down the incoming traffic.
  • If you are driving on a two lane road, the left lane is the fast lane.  Please only use the fast lane if you are going fast enough to pass the cars in the right lane or use it to pass a car in the right lane going slower than you desire and return to the right lane. 
  • If you are driving on a two lane road and you are in the left lane, you should not be going at the same speed as the person to your right.  If you are going the same speed then you and the other car are blocking others’ ability to pass through.  If you are going the same speed as someone in the slow lane, then you should also be in the slow lane either behind or in front of the person you are riding next to.
  • If you are slowing down to stop in the middle of the street for no apparent reason, use your hazards so I know to go around you.
  • If you are entering a roadway in a lane that has to yield to passing cars, then yield.  You should also have your turn signal on.  Although I usually know what you are trying to do, I will do my best not to let you enter if you don’t signal me first. 

These are just some of the most overlooked principles of the road that I encounter on a daily basis.  Please leave a comment if you can think of any more.  If you share the same sentiments, give me a holler.  If you disagree, then for the sake of peace, happiness and sanity on the road, please read these tips again.  

TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum.  This is likely to be biased toward my own experiences and desired self-improvement, but I hope it will evolve through input by you and others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  



Filed under Self-Development, Tough Life Thursdays

10 responses to “Tips for Proper Courtesy and Distribution on the Road

  1. I second all of the above. And add that if there is a turn lane coming up, don’t slow down like you’re about to stop to make the turn in the straight lanes. Wait till you’re in the turn lane to do your super-slowdown. Plus, only pull out in front of people if you are far enough ahead of them so they are not going to have to slow down. If I’m going the speed limit at 45, you pull out in front of me, and I have to hit the brakes to get down to your piddly 30 mph, I’m going to be irritable. 🙂

    ~ Kristi

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  3. Paulette

    Yes, I agree with everything you wrote. Here is one of my worst pet peeves, not knowing how to make a left turn when there is not a left turn lane.

    1. When the light turns green and you reach the intersection proceed to the middle of the intersection.

    2. Keep your wheels straight in case you are hit from behind you will not be propelled into on coming traffic.

    3. Wait for a break in traffic to make your turn or wait for the light to turn yellow and on coming traffic stops. You might have to wait for the red light. Always look at the light the on coming traffic is using as well as the one facing you.

    4. If you pull to the middle it sometimes allows another car to turn on the yellow or red light too. When you pull to the middle especially with only one lane it allows the other traffic to go around you.

    5. If there is a green arrow and no red arrow you may proceed on a green light as long as you yield to up coming traffic. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE GREEN ARROW!

    Thank you for allowing me to get this off my chest!!!

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  5. After reading through this article, I feel that I need more information on the topic. Can you suggest some more resources please?

  6. suprieta

    @Ted – you might check out, which is an unofficial guide to certain rules on the road. They have discussions about road rage and how emotions affect driving.

    Another resource that I found quite comical is at

    He writes about mastering the courtesy wave while driving.

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  7. Norma

    Great advice! One of my pet peeves is to be driving along at a reasonable speed and someone zooms out in front of me and then creeps! I mean fly out and drive below the speed limit. I have learned after 50 years of driving to be patient and respectful, but this is one that has always made me crazy! I don’t however scream at them (at least where they can hear me) or flash my lights or anything. That’s when I really try to practice “patience”.

    • suprieta

      @Norma – LOL! Patience is indeed a virtue on the road. The ‘cut-off’ is not as bad when the person acknowledges that they cut you off… but it is still frustrating to have your flow interrupted. I think this sentiment is common amongst us all!

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