As a driver for decades, I’ve driven in many places – up and down the East and West Coasts and other busy and highly trafficked areas. The common courtesy rules of the road are the same everywhere.

I’ve noticed that we seemed to have forgotten some of them. This is one of my soapbox issues, so forgive me if I sound “preachy,” but here goes.

1. TAILGATING

There’s nothing that bugs me more than this practice of aggressive driving. I’ve never understood this practice because it doesn't result in getting to a destination any quicker -- just the opposite; it causes everyone stress.

Most of us want to stay within the speed limit, so if you follow someone too closely, (even if the person in front of you is going slower than you believe they should) take a breath and back off.

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 25 percent of all auto crashes are because of rear-end collisions; resulting in 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries every year. Reaction time for stopping is normally about half a second and that’s under ideal conditions. It’s more likely it’ll take you a second or more and that can that mean the difference between you plowing into someone or not. You should be two car lengths behind the person in front of you and more, during inclement weather. Numerous studies have proven that tailgating does not save time. A 2017 Forbes article stated that researchers from MIT found that if we “stopped tailgating, and instead, drove at a fixed distance from the car in front, as well as the car behind, we could cut our journey times in almost half.” If you tailgate, you could cause an accident, injure yourself and/or someone else. Think how late you’ll be then. If you do this, please stop.

2. TEXTING

Several states have banned texting and some carry stiff fines if you’re pulled over for texting and driving. According to a 2019 report from Zebra Insurance:

• In 2018, 4,637 people died in car crashes due to cell phone use.

• An estimated 1.5 million car crashes in the U.S. in 2017 were because of using a cell phone while driving.

• Answering a text distracts a driver for about five seconds – at 55 mph, you’ve traveled the length of a football field.

• Texting while driving accounted for nine percent of all fatalities in 2018, nationwide.

Texting while driving is a very bad idea. Doing so puts everyone on the road in danger. There are apps that help you break the habit if that “ding” makes you want to grab your phone. You can download them from the App Store or Google for your iPhone or Android. The top five are LifeSaver; SafeDrive; DriveMode; Cellcontrol; and TextLimit. Though again, this seems as if it would be common sense, but no selfie taking, Facebook checking or internet surfing while driving. Park your phone and keep your eyes on the road – for everyone’s sake.

3. NOT TURNING ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS

Different states have different laws about headlight use. In South Carolina, the law is you must have your headlights on or “illuminated” when your windshield wipers are in use. That means when it’s gray and rainy, turn your headlights on. You may be able to see, but other drivers need to see you too. The law also states that headlights must be on “from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.” To find out what the laws are state by state regarding headlights check https://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/headlight-use/.

4. NOT SIGNALING

Remember when you took your driver’s test and you got in the car with the instructor? One of the things that you did to pass the test was to use your signal – when you turned and when you changed lanes. Still applies. Still works. Still need to do it.

5. RECKLESS DRIVING

This encompasses several driving faux pas including weaving in and out of traffic (doesn’t get you there any quicker); accelerating up to a traffic light and stopping behind the driver in front of you whispers away from their bumper; swerving and passing on the right and going 20 miles over the speed limit.

We’re not in a Mad Max movie and there’s a lot of us out there on the roads, so let’s be nice to each other. If you’re pulled over for going over 20 miles over the speed limit, that ticket will cost you $200-$300, it will stay on your driving record for about three years and it can up your insurance premium by over $200 for each of those years. Worth it? I think not.

That’s my list of driving pet peeves. No one’s perfect, but maybe if we go back to the basics of Driving 101, we’ll all benefit from it. It goes without saying, don’t drink and drive and for the love of Pete, wear your seatbelt.

What gets under your driving skin? Be safe out there.

Reach Brigitte Surette at bsurette@postandcourier.com.

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