5 Tips For Being Less of a Jerk While Driving This Holiday (and Always)

Dan Ilika
by Dan Ilika

With a new year fast approaching, it’s that time of year to kick those nasty habits, however temporarily, in an attempt at self-improvement.

Considering how much time many of us spend on the road, there may not be a better place to start than our daily commutes. Because whether we care to admit it or not, driving has a tendency to transform us into self-centered shells of our former selves whose concerns barely extend beyond our own bumpers. Even the most pleasant of people can be reduced to raging and finger-waving behind the wheel, which isn’t a good look for anyone. The good news is that bad behavior makes for a great new year’s resolution and doesn’t involve any time at the gym. And it’s with that in mind that we bring you these five tips that will quickly make you less of a jerk while driving. The main lesson here is to be more courteous to your fellow drivers.

5. Don’t Forget Your Manners

This may seem like a no-brainer, but all too often we forget to use common courtesies out on the road. Saying thanks or showing some gratitude goes a long way, so the next time someone waves you through an all-way stop out of turn or lets you merge, be sure to let them know you appreciate it. A simple wave is all it takes, though a quick flash of your high beams or hazard lights will do the trick just as well.

4. Don’t Block Intersections

Sure, it’s great when yours is the last car to make it through the intersection when the light’s about to change, but there’s nothing worse than being the person that’s left with your hindquarters hanging out into the intersection. A quick survey of the traffic situation ahead will determine whether you can make it all the way through to the other side, and if you can’t, then it’s best to wait it out for the next green light. The same rule applies to stop signs. Blocking intersections is unsafe and it creates gridlock. It’s a lose-lose situation.

ALSO SEE: 6 Tips for Driving in the Snow and Not Crashing

3. Don’t Forget Your Signals

There might not be a lazier behavior behind the wheel than making turns or lane changes without signaling. Barring the presence of motorists with unforeseen mind-reading skills, nobody else on the road is aware of your next move, so use the tools that are literally at your fingertips to let them know. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Don’t Misuse Your Lights

Cars and trucks are equipped with head- and tail lights for a reason, so make sure to use them. Just because you don’t think it’s too dark outside doesn’t mean the driver behind you has the same superb vision. Your vehicle’s lights should be used from dusk ‘til dawn and during inclement weather, and it’s your best defense against an unforeseen accident. The same goes for high beams, which should only be used when necessary.

1. Don’t Camp Out in the Left Lane

We all know how frustrating it can be when you’re stuck behind a slower vehicle on the highway that just won’t get out of the way, so don’t be that driver. Even if you feel like you’re traveling fast enough, there’s always going to be someone faster, so use the left lane for passing and passing alone.

Dan Ilika
Dan Ilika

Dan is AutoGuide.com's Road Test Editor, a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan, and a car guy since childhood. He enjoys long walks on the beach and long drives just about anywhere the road, track or trail will take him. You'll see him driving around evaluating cars and in front of a camera talking about them. Dan is a member of the World Car of the Year jury.

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2 of 4 comments
  • Mike Daniel Mike Daniel on Dec 24, 2016

    The jerk drivers out there don't read columns like this., That's why a horn and middle finger is the only response they should get from you.

  • Jon from Milwaukee Jon from Milwaukee on Jan 14, 2017

    Overall these are excellent points, especially #3, but there are a few errors and omissions. Regarding #2, lights should also be on during inclement weather (rain, snow, fog, etc.) because when visibility is compromised already, your lights make you much more visible to other drivers. This is especially true for grey and tan cars. They often start to blend in with the pavement during inclement weather and dusk/dawn because of the reduced ambient light. I have seen drivers glance over, not see the other car and start moving over more than once. Also, #4 is actually illegal in many cities (not that it being illegal stops the jerks from doing it anyway). Lastly, #5 has some bad advice. Do NOT flash your high beams to say "thank you". High beams are generally taken as an angry action, which will likely leave the person who just did something nice wondering why you're upset with them. Also, do not wave someone through out of turn. That is illegal and will usually piss off everyone else because it's very rude to them.