It’s the height of summer and people are taking to the roads for summer holiday trips. My wife and I left on our vacation trip on Sunday, and we were quickly reminded of three driving actions that can end up testing your patience if not triggering road rage.
- Failure to focus on the road. We were driving along a four-lane road when the car in front of us drifted into our lane. My wife, who was in the passenger seat, let out a yelp as she thought she was about to make the lady’s acquaintance. The yelp was followed by an expletive (not her usual style) as she noticed the driver of the other car was talking away on a cell phone, completely oblivious of the near accident she had almost caused. Of course you can up the ante to the even worse cell/smart phone crime: texting while driving. It’s gotten to the point now that almost every time I see a person driving a little erratically, I realize the person is talking on a cell phone. Put the phone away, have a passenger talk for you, or pull off to use your phone. As the sign in Vermont says, “Hang up and drive!”
- The “I-can-be-anywhere-I-want” driver. This person plunks himself down in the passing lane, drives slower than the traffic and makes cars go around him on the right. On the Interstate in northern Vermont this person isn’t much of a hazard as there are few enough cars on the road. But on Interstate 95 going around Boston (or any other urban area) with people peeling around this person in obvious frustration, not signaling and cutting off other cars, the likelihood of an accident increases immeasurably. Leave the passing lane open for drivers to use to pass.
- The “I’ve-never-heard-of-a-four-way-stop” person. Since we have been in kindergarten, we’ve all been taught to take turns, and four-way stops are the epitome of that lesson. Yet, routinely, people don’t wait at a four-way stop but barge through when it’s not their turn. You can sense the collective deep breath, as the other drivers suppress their annoyance. One more uptick on the road rage trigger.
I get it: It’s hot; the roads are crowded; you’re in a hurry; you have to catch a plane, or make a ferry reservation, Almost all the rules in the Driver’s Ed manual are based on courtesy for other drivers and your passengers. Courteous driving leads to safety for all of us. That little extra courtesy, that little extra bit of awareness and attention could make the trip more pleasant, could prevent an accident could save a life. Maybe even your own.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."