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Car Talk Guide to Civil Driving

Thanks for checking out Car Talk’s Official Guide to Civil Driving.

What are your suggestions for making driving a more civil, polite experience? We’d like to hear what you have to say! Share your thoughts right here.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi

Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers

  1. Keep up with the flow of traffic, even if it’s above the posted speed limit. If the prevailing speed is 75 MPH and you are the only one plodding along at 55 MPH you are creating a dangerous situation.

  2. When you turn onto a highway with a higher speed limit, accelerate briskly up to speed. The people you just pulled out in front of should not have to brake because you are too limp-footed with the accelerator.

  3. Exercise lane discipline, keep to the right whenever possible and pass on the left. If you are slothing along in the left lane and people are passing you in the right lane, that’s your queue to move to the right lane.

Where is “review and make sure you understand the rules of the road” - or something like that? Provide some examples - review how 4-way stops operate. Review the rules and logic of using interstate highways. Know the difference between “stop” and “yield.” I can sometimes be a jerk to other drivers - because many of them have never been taught “rules of the road.”

Leave the d*** cell phone at home.

Re: comment on speeding up to the flow of traffic quickly. That’s fine if you aren’t towing a travel trailer.
You can bet your a** I ain’t going to pull my trailer at 65mph, never mind 75mph.

Pay attention to the rules of the road and keep right except to pass.

Think about it, there ARE exceptions.

Having driven in many different countries, the ones that leave the most pleasant memories are the ones where EVERYONE OBEYS THE RULES, which makes for low stress driving. Germany and Switzerland stand out as places I enjoyed driving even though the speeds in Germany were a little frightening. British roads are very crowded, but the high level of driver competence and general courtesy of drivers makes it a nice experience.

In Holland there are numerous bicycles sharing the road with cars, yet it all moves harmoniously. By contrast, India is intitutionalized anarchy since everyone breaks the rules. Most Asian countries turn driving into a Formula 1 exercise, and breaking rules is the norm. Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bejing, and Manila are prime examples.

Theoretically, the US should have the easiest driving environment; good wide roads with shoulders, relatively new cars, most drivers are literate and did not “buy” their licence. Unfortunately, US drivers have an entitlement mentality combined with lower than world class driving skill levels. This results in poor driving habits with lack of attention to traffic conditions, performing all manner of other activities while driving (I’ve seen a woman floss her teeth and steer with her elbows!), and being generally rude with repect to others on the road. Only in small towns where everyone knows each other do you see courteous driving and a high level of adherence to rules.

Common courtesy combined with obeying the rules make for less stressful driving and no doubt benefits the vehicle as well!

Don’t be possessive of the road. Let others pass you even if you travel at or slightly above/below the speed limit. Make the effort to let people pass you by if they appear to need to.

On the interstate, the left lane is for passing and emergency vehicles only. If you aren’t actively passing someone, move over at least one lane to the right, even if you are exceeding the speed limit. (Why would breaking one law make it okay to break another.) Don’t try to limit anyone else’s speed. That’s one of the police’s functions.

Don’t tailgate!!! Tailgating is asinine and reckless.

Agree; this is one of the worst habits of drivers in my area. It slows down traffic on otherwise good 4 lane highwais. In Germany and other European countries they would flash their high beams indicating you should let them pass.

If all this did was slow down traffic, I might live with it. But it makes the highways by far more dangerous than anything on the current driving tips list. It produces congestion, cramming everyone together, getting on many people’s nerves and then produces those other kinds of problems (like tailgating and tempers).

I spend a lot of time on interstates and NONE of the dangers I encounter are produced by things like excessive speed. They are produced by people who have no idea how to use the highway.

Please understand that there is a red light a half block ahead and there is no need to tailgate me if I happen to be in front of you.

Please use your turn signal when right turning into a side road where I or someone is waiting at a stop sign to proceed.

If you habitually drive annoyingly fast then please don’t forget to run during the final portion of your trip after you get out of your car. Also, don’t forget to run back to your car.

Harley riders, please get a better muffler; don’t make me roll up my window while you go by.

One more, don’t drive in platoons on a two lane freeway so left lane hogs are then less of a problem.

There, I feel better!

Show your intention. Use your turn signals.


Get in the proper lane at least 1 block before you have to turn, and don’t pass me on the right just to get into the space between me and the car in front of me and turn left. And if you are using the center turn lane get in there early enough so you are not blocking the driving lane by trying a 90 degree turn, and when the light is red stop for it.

I had this happen not too long ago. I was turning left, had my signal on and everything. Guy in the oncoming lane has no signal on. Light turns green for us and we approach the intersection(small town city roads). I get about half way into the intersection to turn left, and the guy just sits there a little bit ahead of me. I sit there waiting for him to come straight, and inch forward some more. He still doesn’t move. After about 20 seconds or so, he decides to use his signal to let me know he’s turning left as well, so I make my turn so he can turn

When the light turns yellow, slow to a stop instead of speeding up. If the light has JUST TURNED RED and the other traffic hasn’t moved, this doesn’t mean its still OK to go.

If the lanes is for a right turn, don’t make a left turn just because you don’t want to wait in the right turn only lane.

I guess this fits under being a courteous driver, but it real bad around here (North of Boston).

Respect all trucks and give them room. I love it when people drive around me and them slow down on the highway when I am towing. Sure my 11,000lb rig won’t dent your car.

Don’t crowd motorcycles: just because we take up less space doesn’t mean you can invade it!

Do you push and shove and step on peoples heels and cut in line when you are inside a building? Do you slam doors in peoples faces instead of holding them open for others who are carrying packages? Do you breath down people’s necks? Do you block the aisles at the supermarket?

Don’t drive like that either.

Signal your intentions in time for others to slow down, change lanes, or whatever. If you signal your turn only 50 ft before you make the turn, you did me absolutely no good, I still had to nail the brakes to keep from hitting you.

If I or others stop accelerating and are just letting our cars coast, maybe it’s because we can see that intersection with a red light all the way from back here. It’s amazing how far forward you can see when you don’t drive with your head up your ass.

Left lanes are for passing only if the traffic is free-flowing. In non free-flowing traffic (rush hour), the left lane is needed just to carry the volume of traffic. If you don’t believe this, see what a mess I-35 turns into anywhere between San Antonio and Georgetown TX when only one lane is closed or blocked.

edit: I didn’t mean to tag racersteve’s posting, I just hit the wrong reply button.

Everyone should undergo a psychological evaluation before getting a license (and maybe an IQ test). Anger management classes for those that drive those jacked up pickups with big tires. :slight_smile:

You don’t need a high IQ to be a good driver any more than you need to be a genius to hit a home run.

I agree BLE, but it should at least be in the double digits.

One year during Lent (Catholic thing), I gave up cursing and being upset with other drivers. Talk about a major challenge!! 40 days of just shaking my head at the dipstick driving like a maniac and saying out loud to myself, “Poor fella, he must have a real emergency”.

Thank gawd THAT Lent is over with!!!