Letter from Joe Waggoner – Courtesy Makes for a Better Commute

Dear Selmon Expressway Drivers,

Just like you, I drive on the Tampa Bay roads every day.  Even when driving for business, I hope that my time behind the wheel is enjoyable, efficient, and safe.  As Executive Director and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA), I do my best to collaborate with members of the government and the community to make that a reality, but there is more that can be done.  I believe all of our drives could be enriched and less stressful if we make a conscious effort to be courteous and alert drivers.

What is courteous driving?  It is a frame of mind and positive attitude when driving, and it will help to protect you, your property, and the other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists on the road.  It is taking small steps to be polite and accommodate other drivers while remaining alert to potential threats.  It is making small gestures to be a kind driver, which will put you in a better, more relaxed mood and de-escalate the stress of commuting.  Courteous driving is an essential step to being a good driver.

Courteous driving begins with preparedness.  Leaving a few minutes early will give you a cushion to arrive at your destination, making you less likely to be an aggressive driver.  When you have more time, you can more quickly adapt to stressful obstacles, like unexpected traffic, give you more time to react to sudden changes or stops, and make you more willing to be accommodating to your fellow drivers.  Being prepared also lowers your stress and anxiety when driving, making you more likely to be a polite and kind driver.  This positive attitude can extend throughout the rest of the day and reduce your anxiety and put you in a good mood.  Also, your small gesture invites kindness to be returned by other drivers throughout their commute and throughout their day.

Courteous driving also includes sharing the road and making room for one another.  Giving each other space includes maintaining a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, moving to the left to allow cars to enter the roadway, and moving over when emergency vehicles are stopped on the shoulder.  Too often, I have seen drivers edged into a dangerous situation of not being able to get into the highway smoothly and thus practically stopped along the shoulder. On our roadway, The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, we advise you to put on your blinker and safely switch to the left lane when others are entering or when emergency vehicles are on the side of the road. Often there is room to the left, and it allows another driver to get onto the highway with a minimal level of stress.  Similarly, when merging onto a road, be sure to maintain a constant and safe speed not to disrupt the flow of traffic.  Sufficient space is crucial to courteous driving because it keeps stress levels low allowing all drivers to make better decisions when their mental outlook is calmer.

You can extend courteous driving to also include:

  • Being attentive on the road and looking ahead to obstacles, changes, or exits
  • Using your turn signals.
  • Driving in the right or middle lane – leaving the left lane for passing
  • Using your horn sparingly – only to alert others of dangers
  • Keeping intersections and crosswalks clear
  • Blinking your lights as a “thank-you” when other drivers are courteous to you
  • Obeying speed limits and not running through red lights and stop signs.
  • Honoring acceptable noise levels with music

Let’s make room for each other and make Tampa Bay roads a more pleasant and safe place to be. We all want to get where we need to go safely and spend less time commuting and more time doing the things we love. Keeping a positive attitude when on the road will make them safer for you, your family, and everyone else.  Being a courteous driver is just one of the ways to #LoveYourDrive.


Joe Waggoner

Executive Director and CEO