In drivers ed, you learn about all of the rules of the road and how to be a safe driver, but did you learn about driving etiquette? These are some of the unspoken rules of the road that aren’t necessarily laws but are a good idea to be courteous to other drivers and keep everyone on the road safe. 

That being said, there are a few things that some drivers may not realize are actually laws, as well as polite etiquette behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at a few. 

Drive on the Right, Pass on the Left 

While this is a rule in some states, it is not a standard law to drive in the right lane and only use the left for passing. However, staying in the left lane (or camping as some call it) when you don’t intend to pass can slow up faster traffic and cause more of a hazard when faster vehicles try to get around you.  

Additionally, this is a standard rule for semi-truck drivers, who will expect to be passed by smaller vehicles. If you stick to passing on the left, they’ll have an easier time seeing you. If you try passing on the right, they have a much larger blind spot and are less likely to expect a smaller vehicle zooming along their right side to get ahead.  

Use Your Blinker 

Using your blinker to signal which lane you’re merging into or which direction you’re turning is in fact a law. While many might not seem to think it is required, you can cause a serious crash if you do not use your blinker. Your turn signal lets others on the road know that you plan on turning, or are changing lanes.  

Other drivers are not mind readers. Give them a hint as to where you’re going so they know to give you the space you need. It’s a basic form of communication that helps keep everyone on the road safe. 

Zipper Merge 

The zipper merge is a great courtesy that everyone on the road can pay another driver. This is especially important on the freeway when there are frequently lines of cars merging. The basic idea is as follows: 

Car A and B are in the right lane on the freeway and car C and D are merging from the on ramp. Car A is just ahead of car C, so car B slows down to allow car C into the lane. Car D allows car B to pass before merging. 

Zipper merging allows cars to merge alternately between the vehicles already in the lane, the same way a zipper connects. This allows everyone to maintain a relatively consistent speed and politely let vehicles merge onto the freeway without struggling to find an opening. 

Don’t Crowd Semis  

As you probably know, semi-trucks have massive blind spots and it is very difficult for them to slow down quickly due to their size. Because of this, it is vital (and respectful) for smaller, more nimble vehicles to give them some extra space. Make sure you aren’t tailgating or cutting off a semi when merging into its lane, and absolutely do not sit in their blind spots. Not only can this make a semi-driver’s job significantly more stressful, but it increases the risk of getting into a collision with the truck.  

It may not be your job to be on the road, but it is theirs, so let’s all try to stick to this little piece of etiquette to make their jobs a bit easier. 

Signal to Other Vehicles 

As with blinkers, you can use your headlights to signal to other vehicles. In particular, a great way to let another vehicle know it is safe for them to switch lanes or merge in front of you is to flash your high beams at them once.  

This is especially helpful to semi-truck drivers who have a much harder time making sure no one is next to them when they need to switch lanes. If the way is clear, give them a flash. They will thank you by flashing their brake lights. 

Give Bicycles Space 

Another way to be courteous to everyone on the road is to give bicycles plenty of space. It is a law that you cannot drive in the bike lane, but for roads that do not have a bike lane, make sure you move towards the left of your lane (being careful of oncoming traffic) to give them extra room. 

When a vehicle passes someone on a bike, the air is displaced and causes gusts of wind. The faster the speed or closer the vehicle is to the bicycle the hard this gust can be, and it can even cause a biker to tip and fall into the road. Not to mention, that it is difficult to judge the amount of space on the right side of your vehicle and if you get too close to a cyclist, you could accidentally clip them and cause serious injury.  

Be careful and polite to bicycles so everyone can get home safe. 

Conclusion 

There is a lot that goes into driving etiquette, and this is not an exhaustive list. At best, not following road etiquette can inconvenience and frustrate others, and at worst it can turn you into a serious hazard on the road. The main takeaway is to always be courteous to other drivers, give everyone space, and drive safe! 

Disclaimer: 

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms, you should speak to a medical professional.

In drivers ed, you learn about all of the rules of the road and how to be a safe driver, but did you learn about driving etiquette? These are some of the unspoken rules of the road that aren’t necessarily laws but are a good idea to be courteous to other drivers and keep everyone on the road safe. 

That being said, there are a few things that some drivers may not realize are actually laws, as well as polite etiquette behind the wheel. Let’s take a look at a few. 

Drive on the Right, Pass on the Left 

While this is a rule in some states, it is not a standard law to drive in the right lane and only use the left for passing. However, staying in the left lane (or camping as some call it) when you don’t intend to pass can slow up faster traffic and cause more of a hazard when faster vehicles try to get around you.  

Additionally, this is a standard rule for semi-truck drivers, who will expect to be passed by smaller vehicles. If you stick to passing on the left, they’ll have an easier time seeing you. If you try passing on the right, they have a much larger blind spot and are less likely to expect a smaller vehicle zooming along their right side to get ahead.  

Use Your Blinker 

Using your blinker to signal which lane you’re merging into or which direction you’re turning is in fact a law. While many might not seem to think it is required, you can cause a serious crash if you do not use your blinker. Your turn signal lets others on the road know that you plan on turning, or are changing lanes.  

Other drivers are not mind readers. Give them a hint as to where you’re going so they know to give you the space you need. It’s a basic form of communication that helps keep everyone on the road safe. 

Zipper Merge 

The zipper merge is a great courtesy that everyone on the road can pay another driver. This is especially important on the freeway when there are frequently lines of cars merging. The basic idea is as follows: 

Car A and B are in the right lane on the freeway and car C and D are merging from the on ramp. Car A is just ahead of car C, so car B slows down to allow car C into the lane. Car D allows car B to pass before merging. 

Zipper merging allows cars to merge alternately between the vehicles already in the lane, the same way a zipper connects. This allows everyone to maintain a relatively consistent speed and politely let vehicles merge onto the freeway without struggling to find an opening. 

Don’t Crowd Semis  

As you probably know, semi-trucks have massive blind spots and it is very difficult for them to slow down quickly due to their size. Because of this, it is vital (and respectful) for smaller, more nimble vehicles to give them some extra space. Make sure you aren’t tailgating or cutting off a semi when merging into its lane, and absolutely do not sit in their blind spots. Not only can this make a semi-driver’s job significantly more stressful, but it increases the risk of getting into a collision with the truck.  

It may not be your job to be on the road, but it is theirs, so let’s all try to stick to this little piece of etiquette to make their jobs a bit easier. 

Signal to Other Vehicles 

As with blinkers, you can use your headlights to signal to other vehicles. In particular, a great way to let another vehicle know it is safe for them to switch lanes or merge in front of you is to flash your high beams at them once.  

This is especially helpful to semi-truck drivers who have a much harder time making sure no one is next to them when they need to switch lanes. If the way is clear, give them a flash. They will thank you by flashing their brake lights. 

Give Bicycles Space 

Another way to be courteous to everyone on the road is to give bicycles plenty of space. It is a law that you cannot drive in the bike lane, but for roads that do not have a bike lane, make sure you move towards the left of your lane (being careful of oncoming traffic) to give them extra room. 

When a vehicle passes someone on a bike, the air is displaced and causes gusts of wind. The faster the speed or closer the vehicle is to the bicycle the hard this gust can be, and it can even cause a biker to tip and fall into the road. Not to mention, that it is difficult to judge the amount of space on the right side of your vehicle and if you get too close to a cyclist, you could accidentally clip them and cause serious injury.  

Be careful and polite to bicycles so everyone can get home safe. 

Conclusion 

There is a lot that goes into driving etiquette, and this is not an exhaustive list. At best, not following road etiquette can inconvenience and frustrate others, and at worst it can turn you into a serious hazard on the road. The main takeaway is to always be courteous to other drivers, give everyone space, and drive safe! 

Disclaimer: 

This article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health symptoms, you should speak to a medical professional.

Start Learning to Drive Today

Give us a call to find out which online course is best for you!

  • 1-888-206-1328

Get Our Latest Driving Tips

Follow us on social media to get our latest tips and drivers ed tools.