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Whether you just got your driver’s license last week or 30 years ago, chances are that you have already forgotten about road etiquette. We can’t blame you considering there’s so much that can happen in an instant when you’re out driving. After all, you can only control so much.

But what you can definitely control are your own actions when you’re behind the wheel. In case you need a refresher, here are seven driving etiquette rules that you probably forgot about since you obtained that shiny piece of plastic in your wallet.

1. Use the exit (or shoulder) lane for exiting only

A photo of the exit lane on a freeway.
A photo of the exit lane on a freeway. | Hauke-Christian Dittrich/picture alliance via Getty Images

It might be tempting to use the exit lane as a sneaky way to get around slower traffic but refrain from doing so as it is illegal (in most states). According to Reader’s Digest, swerving in and out of traffic when using the exit lane is also very dangerous. If anything, stay on the freeway and wait your turn like everyone else. Getting to your destination a little bit sooner isn’t worth any injuries or death.

2. Don’t tailgate other cars

A car tailgating another car on the freeway
A car tailgating another car on the freeway. | Unsplash

Tailgating other cars is extremely dangerous, especially if you can’t see what’s coming up ahead of the car in front of you. If that car happens to brake unexpectedly, then your car could end up in its back seat.

To avoid this risk, you can use the three-second rule. When driving, pick a landmark like a signpost or an overpass and watch the car in front of you pass it. If you can count to three by the time you pass the same landmark, then you’re at a safe distance.

3. Let other cars merge into your lane

While it’s natural to want to get to wherever you’re going as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to let other cars go first, in some cases. For instance, Reader’s Digest recommends that if you’re at a stop and a car is pulling out into oncoming traffic, then let them go ahead of you. However, if a car merging in front of you may put you in danger, then it’s best to get out of the way or not let them merge.  

4. Use your car’s horn responsibly

A driver holds his hand near the horn of a car
A driver holds his hand near the horn of a car. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Some drivers like to communicate all of their thoughts and feelings toward other drivers by using their horns. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Technically, you should only use your car’s horn if you’re in danger of being hit or to warn other drivers. So, use it wisely and responsibly, not to annoy others just because you’re impatient.

5. Don’t respond to other angry drivers

According to AAA, nearly 80 percent of drivers express their anger and frustration while driving, which can lead to purposeful tailgating, road rage, and accidents. Don’t be one of them and follow these tips for less stressful commuting.

6. Be courteous in the parking lot

A car drives through a parking lot.
A car drives through a parking lot. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Parking lot etiquette seems to fly out the window the second you roll it down and look for a spot. Hold onto your manners when driving in a parking lot by signaling to let other drivers know where you are parking. Also, try your best to center your car in the lane when you do park – no one likes it when a car takes up two spots for no reason.

7. Just say “no” to distracted driving

A driver plays on their phone while driving.
A driver plays on their phone while driving. | Getty Images

5 Car Etiquette Rules Most Passengers Aren’t Aware Of

Lastly, remember that distracted driving can lead to serious accidents in less than a second. That text message you just received can wait a few minutes and that call about your car’s extended warranty isn’t important. Just focus on driving and getting to your destination safely.

Driving etiquette 101

These seven driving etiquette rules may not be written in the DMV handbook, but for the most part, they are common sense. If you keep these in mind when driving on the road you could end up saving other people’s lives as well as your own.