By Phil Jackson
The number one rule in driving is safety, but a very close second and mother to safety in many cases, is Courtesy. Be Courteous. This does not mean, give up your rights in all situations, that is not always safe. But it does mean that in many situations you should give up your right to be where you are, to the person trying to be there.
Courtesy, in driving, is not just letting someone in front of you or moving out of the way so they can pass. Sometimes it’s NOT letting them do what they want. How is this a courtesy to them? It’s not, directly anyway, but it could be very courteous to the other drivers which would be affected by your actions, and therefore courteous by forcing a safer behavior on first driver.
Let me explain these seemingly contradictory statements with a few examples.
You are cruising along in the number one lane (which is not a good practice) going faster than the traffic in the other lanes. You notice someone catching up from behind you. Courtesy demands that you move over, when possible, and let them pass. This is not a case where you should be forcing them to slow, “For their own safety”. It is much safer for both you and the drivers in the other lanes, to safely move out of the way, than for you to force the obviously-in-a-hurry driver to weave through traffic to get by you.
If you are driving in any lane and are passed on the right (I’m in the US) then you are driving too slowly for the lane and courtesy demands you safely change lanes to the right. Now I shouldn’t need to say this but it seems to be another common issue so, be intelligent. If the lane to your right does not continue in the direction you want to go then, obviously, don’t change lanes. If your lane is stopped (i.e. traffic, accident) you are not required to move over, although in this case you probably want to.
Although you may think it is courteous it allow people out of a parking lot, gas station, or side street, into the very busy street on which you are traveling, this is not always the case. You must check your surroundings, the other drivers on the road, and the traffic that will be affected. In other words, don’t stop the flow of traffic, just to be nice. If letting a car in front of you when traffic is stopped causes the blockage of a right turn lane, you are actually causing more problems than you are solving. The driver waiting to turn into your lane was already waiting, all the traffic that was about to move off of the road (by making a right turn) now has to stop, which in turn causes more traffic, and more delays for everyone. Of course, the courteous driver waiting to turn, wouldn’t take the half lane you provided and would continue waiting for a clear opening before pulling out.
There are many more examples that could be included. But we need to get to the rule.
The rule and the overall message here is: Be courteous while driving.
It’s safer for everyone, even the ones in too big of a hurry to be courteous to you.