Tips for being a polite driver
MARIETTA -Few things are more frustrating for Marietta resident Isaac Nayak, 17, than being behind a driver that does not seem to notice when the light turns green.
“When somebody is not paying attention at a stop light and it turns green and they just stay there, that’s the worst,” he said.
Waverly, W.Va.-resident Melissa Boley and her family have a saying about those daydreamers.
“We say that they must be waiting for the light to turn a different shade of green,” she joked.
Slow response at a stop light is one of many driving etiquette no-no’s, those things that annoy other drivers, but are not necessarily illegal. In fact, some of the niceties of driving are so under observed that etiquette gurus from The Emily Post Institute, Inc., have come up with a list of guidelines for drivers to follow.
Among other things, the institute reminds drivers not to block the passing lane for more than a reasonable amount of time, not to speed up when being passed and not to block the intersection by pulling out when there clearly is not enough room.
These questions of driving etiquette are something the Pioneer Driving School likes to take time to impress on its learning drivers.
“We talk about things that you should stop for, such as funeral processions, no matter what way they are going, just out of respect,” said Dolores Holiday, manager and instructor for the Pioneer Driving School in Devola.
The instructors also discuss road rage, things that may incite it, and ways to calm down, said Holiday.
For example, laying on your horn is not a good way to get that daydreamer moving, said Holiday.
In fact, Marietta resident Audrey Stark said the person who honks their horn is actually worse than the person sitting at a red light.
Neither horn honking or sitting for too long at a red light are illegal, said Ohio State Highway Patrolman L.C. Forshey. However, he added, a lot of the practices that some drivers seem to think are optional, are in fact ticketable offenses.
“People that turn on their blinker right at the place they are going to turn,” said Vincent resident Susan Haught, 58, of her pet peeve.
Those last minute signalers are actually breaking the law, said Forshey.
“You have to signal at least 100 feet before you turn,” he said.
Tailgating and brake checking are two other actions that can get drivers in some trouble, said Forshey.
Marietta resident Joe Littleton, 84, recalled driving along one night when the car behind him came so close to him that he could only see the tippy-tops of his headlights.
“I thought for sure he was going to hit me,” he said.
When it comes to assured clear distance, drivers should leave a minimum of two car lengths and at least one car length per 10 miles per hour between them and the car in front, said Forshey.
“So if you’re on the interstate going 60, there should be at least six car lengths,” he noted.
Littleton has also noticed a lot of annoyances beyond a rogue tailgater, such as distracted drivers who are putting on makeup or talking on cell phones. But Littleton has learned to keep a clear head.
“I’ve pulled clear off the side of the road and let them pass,” he said.
And it is not just other drivers who are having to share the road with these inconsiderate motorists.
“I almost got hit walking to school the other day,” said Marietta High School student McKayla Stevens, 15.
The guilty driver did not have his headlights on and it was still dark outside, making it impossible for Stevens to see the oncoming car.
Not yielding to a pedestrian is definitely a ticketable offense, said Forshey. However, depending on city ordinances, pedestrians can sometimes share the fault, he said.
Passengers should also be considered, noted the Emily Post Institute.
“When you’re the driver, be aware of your passengers’ comfort levels,” they noted in their rules of the road.
Other pet peeves high on local residents’ lists were moving from the inside to the outside lane during a turn, driving the wrong way down marked parking lot aisles and blocking the intersection.
“If there’s not room for you on the other side of the section then you have to stay behind the stop bar and if turning left only the first person turning left is allowed out,” said Holiday.
Holiday said her personal pet peeve is somebody riding close behind and using their high beams.
That, too, is illegal, said Forshey.
To help give her students the tools to deal with all the potential annoyances on the road, Holiday uses a planning method that even adults and seasoned drivers could benefit by, she said.
“We have them write down their pet peeves and ask them what they would like to do, what they can legally do, and how they can avoid the situation all together,” said Holiday.
That way when an annoyance pops up, drivers can avoid their initial instinct and instead react courteously and appropriately, she said.