Every day we share the road with millions of other drivers, and many might agree that we don’t share it very well. While driving, it’s not hard to notice the number of reckless and inconsiderate people who are only looking out for themselves. Noticing these drivers is especially common for truck drivers, who drive over a hundred thousand miles each year and deal with countless careless drivers every day.
What if the best way to change the carelessness on the road is to drive with a little more etiquette? At Team Run Smart, we came up with the idea that maybe by driving with better etiquette on the road, we can inspire others to do the same. Because of this idea, we have come up with ways that truck drivers can drive safely, act courteously, and help others, all by practicing a little driving and traffic etiquette.
After reading this article, if there are any tips that we missed, please share them with us.
The most important reason to practice driving etiquette is it will help you, and the people around you, to stay safe on the road. When you are driving, keep your head on a swivel and constantly be looking at your surroundings. Physically move around in your seat and make sure you are able to see everything. This includes making sure you are able to see another driver’s face. Remember that if you can’t see a driver’s face, then they can’t see you. A good thing to keep in mind is when you are driving forward, live in your windshield and glance at your mirrors, and when you are driving backward, live in your mirrors and glance at your windshield.
If you are driving next to a lane that people merge on to, make sure somebody isn’t trying to merge at the same time as you are looking to get in that lane. The best way to avoid an incident on this part of the interstate is to avoid making a lane change altogether until you are past the ramp. This way you are allowing people to easily get onto the highway while also avoiding the risk of changing into a lane that somebody else is needing to move into. Also, if you are the person that is coming onto the interstate, make sure you are getting up to highway speed so that you can safely merge onto the highway without making the people behind you slam on their brakes.
When it comes to your turn signal, use it to show intention rather than using it as a warning of movement. Think about the 8-second rule when you are intending on using your turn signal - look in the mirror, make sure you are clear, turn on your signal, wait 3 seconds, and take 5 seconds to make a lane change. By following this, you are making sure everybody around you is aware that you are about to make a lane change.
Additional Etiquette Tips for Safety
- Slow down in work zones
- Slow down or change lanes if somebody is broken down
- Don’t follow the pack in bad weather
- Don’t drive faster than you can stop (You can go too slow a bunch of times but you can only go too fast one time)
- Use emergency flashers when you’re backing up
- Use lights when it’s raining
Acting courteously while on the road is also a big part of driving etiquette. These are things that you can do to make sure that you are treating everybody with respect. The first way to act courteously on the road is to move to the right unless you are passing. This way you are not blocking people in the left lane who are there to go faster than the others on the road. Also, don’t be afraid to give up ground, because most of the time it’s only for a second. If you are close to the same speed as another truck trying to pass you, slow down a little bit to let that truck pass. If you are getting close to a lane ending in a work zone and a car is trying to zip past you, reduce your speed to avoid an accident or hostility. Say somebody does something careless on the road that makes you mad. Pull off of the highway, cool down a bit, and let the person who is irritating you go ahead. Road rage has no place inside the truck and it’s only going to lead to your day getting worse.
A few other ways to be courteous on the road are, don’t park on fuel island. Once you are done fueling, pullover to give somebody else a chance to fill up. If you are entering a toll booth while it’s raining, turn off your windshield wipers so that you don’t spray the toll booth employee. And lastly, if you’re running with somebody on the CB radio, switch channels so that other people don’t have to listen to your conversation and can keep their CB radio open for updates that might come through.
On top of driving safely and acting courteously, you can drive with etiquette by helping others. One way that you can practice helping others is to warn them about things you notice that they may not be aware of yet. If you pass by an incident on the road, for the next couple of miles, warn people on the other side of the road who are coming up towards it. Specifically, if you see an accident, use your horn to warn others who aren’t yet aware. This is especially true if the incident is on the other side of a hill that people aren’t able to see over. However, make sure you keep up to date on local laws in regards to using flashers and other techniques to warn drivers. If you notice something wrong with another person’s truck or trailer, and they aren’t able to see it, try to get their attention and warn them that something is wrong. Don’t allow them to continue going down the road with an issue that can cause further harm to their truck, the road, or possibly themselves or others. Lastly, if you see there is large debris on the road, call the non-emergency line and warn them about it. Each place you are in should have their own non-emergency line, but you can also use 311.
Additionally, you can be helpful by doing a few of these simple things. If you see somebody trying to back in at night, turn off your headlights. This will allow them to see easier and not be impaired by the light coming from your truck. If you see somebody struggling to back in, get out and help instead of videotaping. Everybody has been in that type of position before, and if you were struggling, you would want somebody to help you out as well. Lastly, if you are walking around the parking lot and you see somebody driving, watch their eyes so you know they are paying attention and vice versa. Make it easier for them to get through the parking lot knowing that you are paying attention.
When it comes to driving etiquette it’s very simple, just treat others how you would want to be treated. By doing this, hopefully, we can change the perception of our roads and make driving a little less hostile and a little more friendly.