Drive Nice Tampa Bay – Ten Ways to Be a More Courteous Driver

September is Courteous Driving Month making NOW the time to focus on your good driving manners. It is not just about being nice when you drive, but about driving in a way that values the people who live in or visit our Tampa Bay community. Courteous driving will put you in a better mood for your own drive and help traffic move more smoothly and safely. Here are ten ways you can be a more courteous driver:


  1.    Save the Left Lane for Passing

We know nothing is more peaceful than looking out over an open road on a sunny day and cruising in the left lane, but there are probably half a dozen cars waiting to pass you that now must do so on the right – clogging up traffic in the middle lane. Research shows that driving in the middle lane is the safest – and quickest – way to get to your destination. So, please, drive in the middle lane and leave the left lane for passing.


  1.    Obey the Speed Limit

Everyone knows that speeding is dangerous. But, driving too slowly is also unsafe. To avoid causing an accident or a traffic jam, always drive with the flow of traffic, which should naturally be around the speed limit. Driving faster or slower than the posted limit can cause a hazard to all drivers on the road. Adjust your speed to accommodate for road conditions and weather events.


  1.    Keep a Safe Distance

Tailgating isn’t only dangerous, it is disrespectful. Other drivers have the right to be on the road and should not feel bullied. To ensure a safe distance, keep at least a 3-second gap between you and the car in front of you. This space gives you more time to react to changes and allows other motorists to safely maneuver around your vehicle.


  1.    Always Use Your Turn Signals

Drivers are not mind readers. There is no way for other motorists to know your intentions if you do not use your turn signal lights. If you suddenly turn or change lanes without signaling, you could cause an accident. Your signal tells others what your plans are.


  1.    Distracted Driving is Dangerous

Distracted driving puts you, your passengers, and other drivers at risk. To avoid this danger, you should focus solely on driving while you’re behind the wheel. That means avoid talking on your cell phone or texting, eating, applying makeup or combing your hair, reaching for items in the backseat, or fumbling with the radio. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times.


  1.    Keep Your Passengers Safe

When you are behind the wheel, you are responsible for all the passengers in your vehicle. Make sure all passengers are wearing seatbelts and that children are properly secured in car seats. Drive defensively and remain alert so that everyone arrives at their destination safely.


  1.    Share the Road

Show pedestrians and cyclists respect. Give them plenty of space to cross the road. Do not drive in the bike lane. Pedestrians have the right of way in crosswalks and where otherwise marked. Make a complete stop at stop signs. Look both ways for other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Do not block intersections. Never run a red light and use caution when entering an intersection on a yellow light. Look twice for motorcycles.


  1.    Turn Down Your High Beams

Do you like getting blinded by high beams when driving at night? Neither does anyone else. At night, high beams may help increase visibility, but please use them sparingly. High beams – and even bright HID lights – can temporarily blind drivers traveling in the opposite direction. If you see another driver while using your high beams, please turn them off to keep everyone safe.


  1.    Do Not Rubberneck

You may think that slowing down to let others merge onto the highway is the nice thing to do, but it disrupts traffic, causes traffic to slow down behind you and causes others to brake suddenly. Maintain your speed and let the merging vehicle enter the roadway when it is safe to do so. If there is space, move over to free up the lane so that they can enter. Similarly, when merging, use your turn signal and speed up to match the speed of the oncoming traffic so that others don’t have to slow down for you. If there is an accident or a car pulled over in the emergency lane, move over and give them room free from the dangers of oncoming traffic.


  1.   Ease Up on the Horn

Use your horn sparingly and only to alert others of your presence or to make them aware of a potential danger. Blink your high beams to thank others for letting you into the lane, or to let them know it is safe to change lanes. Truckers do it all the time. It is a nice, quiet way to say thank-you.


The best way to ensure a safe and happy commute is to allow yourself enough time to get to your destination. If you are stressed or running late, you are more likely to be an impatient, unsafe, or discourteous driver. Give yourself extra time on the road and keep everyone safe. #CourtesyCounts.