Avoid Annoying Other Drivers

Do you often find yourself a target for road rage? Are you a victim of tailgating, flashing highlights, and horn-honking? The main thing to remember when driving is to clearly broadcast to other drivers what you intend to do at all times. This may be difficult, considering you can't speak at length with other drivers, but there are many tools at your disposal. Let other drivers know what you're going to do.

Please note: This article is targeted at countries where driving takes place on the right. For countries where driving takes place on the left, the words 'right' and 'left' may have to be interchanged.


  1. Drive consistently. Don't speed up and slow down for no reason, don't make one turn fast and the next slow. Consistent driving, whether more aggressive or less, is the best way to allow other drivers to accurately predict what you're going to do next. Additionally drive consistent to the surrounding traffic. By driving inconsistently, you risk the general safety of others around you and you may also risk getting cited for one of many traffic violations.
    • Recognize that everything works best when traffic flows in a natural, balanced, and predictable way. This is the single most important concept behind not annoying other drivers.
  2. Don't impede other traffic. For example, if you are on a U.S. Interstate Highway with a speed limit of {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}}, and the majority of traffic is averaging about 70, don't impede them by driving in the far left lane at {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}}. Either match their speed or get over to the right lane and get out of their way.
    • Beware if you attempt to match their speed, you risk at least getting a traffic ticket for speeding and the officer is not likely going to accept the excuse that you were "just keeping speed with traffic", especially if you're the lead car. But this does not mean you should endanger yourself by slowing them down and risking a collision. In general, you should drive at or close to the speed limit unless conditions demand that all drivers slow down.
  3. When you must drive more slowly than others (looking for an address or when your vehicle is having mechanical difficulty), consider turning on the indicator which is on the side of oncoming traffic. However, beware that turning on your hazard indicator while your vehicle is moving is unsafe and illegal in some places. If passing is difficult and you're holding up traffic, pull over from time to time to let others get by. They'll thank you for it (or at least will no longer be annoyed).
  4. Don't tailgate. Ever. It's completely unnecessary, highly annoying and quite dangerous. Some people will have a psychological reaction to tailgating that will cause them to slow down, and some people will do it just to be mean. In fact, the DMV actually recommends slowing down if being tailgated so as to create a space cushion in case of emergency.
    • If the vehicle in front is traveling slowly in the passing lane, be patient. Do not flash your headlights while tailgating as this is viewed by many drivers as an act of aggressive driving and very rude. In certain areas of the United States, aggressive actions such as these are monitored by surveillance cameras and ticketed accordingly.
    • If you have legitimate need to pass and there is only one lane per direction of traffic (i.e. the vehicle in front is going at an excessively slow speed and there is slightly heavy oncoming traffic) and you cannot pass naturally, back off to a safe distance (if you aren't already) and briefly flash your lights (no more than twice should be sufficient). At this point, the driver in the vehicle ahead may understand your intentions better and pull off slightly to allow you to pass with greater ease, if not just continue attempting to pass naturally while not tailgating. If you find yourself catching up to vehicles ahead of you continually, then you're probably going too fast relative to traffic around you.
  5. Always check your mirrors and your blind spot before passing as there may be someone else behind you driving at a much higher speed. Should this be the case, let them pass you first. Once they have passed you, continue to pass the other vehicle as planned should conditions allow you to both pass. Always drive sufficiently faster than the vehicle you overtake and return to the right lane as soon as possible.
    • Semi trucks have much bigger blind spots. You might think the driver can see you but his vision may be obstructed as the drivers can only use their mirrors to see others on the road.
  6. Use your turn signal lights to signal your intentions to other drivers so your actions don't come as a surprise. Failing to do so can be a source of serious aggravation to other drivers. Signal before you turn, change lanes, merge, or exit the freeway...every time, even when you don't think it's necessary.
    • If you're on a fast moving road with a fair amount of traffic, turn on your signal much sooner, to let other drivers know you are turning, and to give them ample time to pass.
    • If you're making a left turn at an intersection, the drivers behind you will appreciate advance warning.
    • If you need to slow down to make a turn or pull over, use your turn signal before pressing the brake pedal. This will give other drivers advance notice that you'll be slowing down soon.
    • When you're finished making your turn or lane change, make sure your turn signal is off. If someone is performing a reasonable merge or lane change in front of you (timely and using a turn signal), let them in.
  7. When you need to use the brake to slow down, put your foot on it and decelerate smoothly. Frequent tapping of the brake pedal will make drivers around you unsure of whether you're actually stopping. On the other hand, don't brake at the absolute last possible second. Give drivers behind you plenty of time to notice that you're braking and to do likewise. A good time to start braking is when you notice the car in front of the one you're following braking.
  8. Accelerate with purpose. This is not to say you should floor the gas and take off like mad. Just don't dawdle, especially when the light turns green, or when it's your turn at the stop sign. When you are changing lanes, do not slow down unless traffic demands it. In fact, speed up a little bit.
  9. When pulling into moving traffic, time your move carefully and accelerate quickly so you don't force oncoming drivers to hit their brakes. Be patient and wait for a big opening, then hit it! If the traffic is moving at {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} and it takes you a leisurely 30 seconds to get up to speed, you'll need almost half a mile of empty highway to avoid endangering or irritating other drivers.
  10. Stop at the stop line, especially at intersections with traffic lights. Stopping well short of the line can be confusing to other drivers - is that vehicle stopped for the light or has it broken down? - and you may fail to trigger the sensors that change the traffic lights. Stopping beyond the line won't get you to your destination much faster but it will interfere with other vehicles, especially those trying to turn left onto your street.
  11. When you are moving into a turn lane in preparation for making a turn, signal your intention, change into the turn lane, then slow down - in that order. If there are multiple turn lanes, pick one and stay in it all the way throughout the turn. Drifting into an adjacent lane is likely to force another driver to take evasive action.
  12. When driving at speeds under the limit, try to drive as close to the limit as possible., unless conditions demand otherwise (i.e. that all drivers slow down due to heavy traffic, inclement weather, etc. or speed up due to traffic flow, improved weather conditions, etc). Even if there are passing lanes, stay close to the speed of other vehicles unless there is a real need to go slower. When you must drive more slowly than others (looking for an address or when your vehicle is having mechanical difficulty), use your hazard flashers. If passing is difficult and you're holding up traffic, pull over from time to time to let others get by. They'll thank you for it.
  13. If there is more than one clear lane and you are in the right lane behind someone going a few miles under the limit, do not honk or speed by and cut them off to make a point that they are going too slow. The speed limit is technically an upper limit, and people are not required to drive any faster. If you need to go as fast or faster than the limit, pass when it is safe to do so.
  14. When driving on a multi-lane road, do not block other traffic by driving right next to another vehicle at the same speed. Not only does this prevent faster traffic from flowing past, the driver next to you will be continuously distracted by your vehicle in the corner of their eye. This problem is happening more and more because some drivers don't understand how to pass properly while driving on cruise control. If you are about to pass another vehicle while on cruise, and your speed is just barely faster, gently depress the accelerator to slightly increase your speed temporarily so the pass is completed in a reasonable amount of time. The shorter the time you are alongside a vehicle you are passing, the safer the pass.
  15. On freeways and Interstates, Do not drive in the left lane continually unless heavy traffic or upcoming turns/exits demand it. It is the passing lane and is not intended for general traffic flow, except in some urban settings. Some states, such as Ohio and Kansas, also have laws which require traffic to "keep right except for passing". If you're in the left lane and driving faster than the vehicles on your right, watch for vehicles driving faster than you coming from behind. Pull over so they too can pass, even if they are speeding (so you are not tailgated); or at least match their speed (within reason) until you can pull over.
  16. Stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles as much as possible, which are generally the right and left rear corners depending on the vehicle.
  17. If you inadvertently cause a situation that annoys other drivers, and they honk the horn or indicate their displeasure in some other way, do not gesture wildly, honk your own horn or jam the brakes. Accept your short-lived punishment, indicate to the other driver that you are sorry for your infraction, and move on.
  18. In heavy highway traffic, pick a lane and stay in it, but not the fast lane. Over the course of many miles, all lanes will go approximately the same speed. Excessive lane changing will not get you to your destination any faster, and ultimately only makes traffic run more slowly overall. It also increases your chances of a collision.
  19. If you are on the freeway and it looks like the vehicle next to you is trying to get over, it probably is because they are trying to get over. Speeding up so they can't get into your lane is just childish, and it may mean you have made them miss their exit. Unless in fact they are switching toward the middle of the freeway. Then it may mean they intend to pass a vehicle in front of them, and may not have seen you. Use caution and allow them to merge if they continue to come into your lane.
  20. If you are behind someone who is trying to switch lanes, don't try to pass them on that side to crowd them out. A signal to change lanes is not an invitation to pass. Some drivers are very particular about this "rule" and will get over anyway, regardless of whether or not they have room, and it is a good way to rear-end a driver, which would be your fault even if they slam on the brakes as soon as they are in front of you.
  21. Recognize that highway on-ramps and off-ramps are there so the flow of traffic will not be interrupted. Therefore you do not have to slow down on the freeway to get off - that's what the off-ramp is for. Conversely, the on-ramp gives you enough space to hopefully reach the typical speed limit (usually {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} per hour) so that other drivers on the freeway do not need to slam on their brakes. (Notice that some on- and off-ramps may be poorly designed and thus slowing down or slamming the throttle might be necessary in these cases).
  22. Anticipate highway on-ramp incoming traffic. Pay attention to signs indicating interchanges and on-ramps. If you have the opportunity, safely shift lanes to allow incoming traffic to merge in a clear lane. This will help prevent bottlenecks and backups caused by merging traffic being unable to enter the flow.
  23. Passing on the right of traffic is very dangerous and also illegal in some places. If you have to pass a vehicle driving below the speed limit in the left (or passing) lane, you have two choices: pass them on the right (which is dangerous and sometimes illegal) or pull back and just drive at the slower speed. Do not tailgate them (see "Don't tailgate" step). Absolutely never pass on the shoulder of the road or blindly when there is the potential for oncoming traffic (i.e. on a state highway with 2-way traffic). This is not only illegal, but could result in you being personally responsible for the death of a pedestrian walking on the side of the road because their vehicle broke down.
  24. Don't drive with your foot on the brake. Ever. Even if you think you're not putting any pressure on the pedal, you may be depressing it enough to trigger the brake lights. In this case, other drivers won't know when you're truly braking. Other possible effects are brake drag, which results in premature brake wear and decreased fuel economy; or you could inadvertently push both brake and throttle in a panic stop, potentially increasing overall stopping distance significantly.


  • Don't panic. It is important to drive safely, as traffic crashes are the greatest annoyance of all. If you are not comfortable driving at high speeds, drive more slowly and avoid highways. Stay in the right lane and use cruise control, if your vehicle is so equipped.
  • In some places, people in general have a rude and annoying attitude behind the wheel. Do not give in to the temptation of doing as everyone else, as this only contributes to making your city more annoying. Notice that being polite in a city where everybody is rude and nobody knows how to be actually polite can be tricky, so if possible, when going to a city with calmer traffic conditions, try to study the local driving customs.
  • Be sure to look ahead towards the horizon rather than directly in front of your vehicle. As soon as you see a sign indicating that the lane you are in is ending or there is an obstruction that will require you to change lanes, prepare to get out of your lane. Gently modify your speed to match the drivers in the other lane and choose your entry point. Do not stay in the ending lane at full speed until the last possible moment and expect that the drivers who have planned ahead for this change in lane configuration are going to let you merge easily. On the other hand, don't force your vehicle out of a lane at the first sign of it ending, either - plan, signal, merge when it is safe to do so.
  • Try to avoid the Boston Creep, which is when the lead car in a turning lane at a set of lights slowly inches out into the intersection and towards their target lane while the light is still red. Stopping for a red light doesn't take that long and won't make a difference in your driving time.
  • If you're turning onto a 1 or 2 lane road (one lane in each direction) from a side road or parking lot, stop at the stop sign or edge of the lot, even if the way is clear. Oncoming traffic has the right of way; if you pull out in front of drivers who are already on the road and in so doing force them to slow down until you accelerate to the proper speed, you have failed to yield the right of way, which may be a traffic offense and is certainly offensive to other drivers. Stopping fully to look both ways will also help you avoid overlooking any vehicles with a lower profile.
  • Likewise, when you're pulling into your intended lane from the curb or breakdown lane, traffic coming up behind you in the lane you're entering has the right of way. Yield the right of way: wait until such traffic has passed you before pulling out. If conditions are such that the traffic coming up behind you is continuous without real letup, look for the largest gap between vehicles, signal, time your entry for it, and accelerate quickly so as to avoid forcing the vehicle you enter in front of to slow down to avoid hitting you. Forcing them to slow suddenly or significantly so as to avoid hitting you could cause them to be struck from behind - but is always rude unless traffic allows you no other option.
  • When turning left onto a road with multiple lanes in each direction, turn from the left to the left. This will allow room for drivers turning right. If you are on a road with multiple left turn lanes, stay in your designated lane during the entire turn. Do not change lanes in the middle of the intersection.
  • When turning left, hug the center line so that drivers behind you can pass on your right. When turning right, hug the white line on the right so that drivers behind you can pass on your left. There is no reason to hold up traffic behind you just because you can't make your own turn yet, and it is discourteous to do so.
  • If you are driving in inclement weather and the car in front of you begins to hydroplane, slow down until the driver regains control.
  • Pay attention to road signs and traffic signals.
  • Be sure your vehicle is fit for the road. Not having working brake lights is a bad thing and in some cases can get you a ticket. All turn signals need to light up, otherwise using them does not help. Most states have laws that prohibit driving vehicles that are not fit for the road.
  • When switching lanes, allow ample space for any cars that will be ahead of you in that lane. Wait for them to move on a little before you pull in.
  • If you miss an exit or are about to miss it, don't panic and cross traffic. Just take the next exit and loop back around. Never back up on a highway, it is incredibly dangerous and you will only add another couple minutes to simply turn around at the next exit.
  • Do not "rubberneck" at crash scenes, a police officer who has somebody stopped, or a vehicle on the side of the road. If you want to look at scenery, pull over at an appropriate spot to look at it. Rubbernecking can lead to a crash and slowing to look at road-side objects will slow traffic to your rear.
  • Turning lanes and breakdown lanes are not passing lanes. Using them as such is apt to provoke retaliatory action by other drivers who feel wronged. Conversely, if someone else does it just let it slide; think of how much longer it'll take to clean up the mess if you get into an accident.
  • If during a snowstorm you come to a point where your car loses traction and can not make it up a hill, instead of just stopping right in the middle of the lane get to the side so people with 4WD or AWD can continue driving.
  • Stay in your own lane and stay in the center of it to avoid edging into the next one. This is especially true for the freeway, and goes without saying for cars in the left and far left lanes.
  • Learn what the yield sign means. You don't have to stop if there is no traffic coming. That is what stop signs are for.
  • Drive with your headlights on in bad weather. (Rule: wipers on - headlights on.) A vehicle is much more visible to other drivers when the headlights are on. Many folks these days drive with headlights on at all times. (It helps if you have automatic shutoff or a headlight buzzer!) Don't worry about burning out your headlights - they are much cheaper than even a minor fender-bender. Also note that parking lights are for parking, not for bad weather driving. Parking lights have less than 5% of the visibility of headlights. Fog lights are usually not necessary in bad weather either (use only when visibility is seriously reduced, i.e below 300ft), many times they just make things worse for you and blind others even further, the same goes for high beams.
  • In some states, such as Massachusetts, travel in the breakdown lane on certain highways may be allowed at certain times only, e.g. heavy traffic times, rush hour, holidays. If this is so, there should be a sign on the shoulder near the on ramp advertising it. If not, it's safe to assume that travel in the breakdown lane is illegal.
  • Don't block other traffic trying to merge or cross busy intersections. Time your entry into an intersection so that you don't get caught blocking it once the light turns red (i.e. "don't block the box") When lanes merge, traffic should work like a zipper. You let one person in front of you, the person behind you lets one person in front of them.
  • Adjust your rear view mirrors to minimize any blind spots. Your side mirrors should be adjusted so that you can almost see the side of your vehicle in the mirror. If a side mirror is adjusted so that you can see directly behind you, most of the mirror will be taken up by the side of your vehicle, and your blind spot is much larger. Alternately, novice drivers might find it a little easier to adjust their mirror positions so they can see a tiny sliver of their vehicle on the extreme sides of their mirrors even without leaning in either direction; this can help give an idea of the relative positions of other vehicles in relation to their own. However, as this increases the sizes of the blind spots, as a driver gains experience the mirrors should be adjusted to one of the above methods.
  • Make sure you have appropriate visibility from the driver's seat.
  • Never try to "beat the light." If it turns yellow and you have enough space to stop, then stop. Cyclists, pedestrians, and even other drivers expect you to be completely stopped by the time the light turns red. You endanger yourself and others by running yellow lights--only to save a minute or two--it simply isn't worth it.
  • If the roads are to a point where your car is going to get stuck somewhere, don't drive unless it is an absolute emergency.
  • Don't use the horn to point out driving errors. It's a tool to alert drivers to a situation that requires immediate attention. It is not a game show buzzer.
  • Remember that someone signaling to change lanes is not inviting you to pass them on that side before they can complete the lane change. Never cut someone off from behind when they are trying to change lanes. It's incredibly rude, and some people will complete their lane change anyway, and not worry about whether you gave them room or not.
  • Minimize all distractions while driving; this is especially true of self-initiated distractions as many drivers are not very tolerant of certain distracting behaviors. Furthermore, your distraction could cause any of a number of dangerous situations resulting in varying amounts of damage and/or injury to you and others. For example, if your speaker system is so loud as to drown out all nearby sounds (especially sirens), turn it down to a more reasonable level. Also, if you have a cell phone, turn it off while driving even if the conversation and act of holding the phone doesn't mentally distract you because you still limit your physical abilities to drive (either you're holding the phone in you hand and have limited your physical response, or you're cradling it with your shoulder and have limited your ability to view your surroundings). If you must make/receive calls while driving make use of "hands-free" technologies (i.e. speaker phones, in-car phones, wireless headset) to minimize distraction to the point where talking on the phone is no more distracting than talking with someone in the car with you.
  • When driving at night around other vehicles, only use your low beam headlights. High beams are blinding to other traffic and should only be used when you area far distance away from other vehicles (more than 150m). You should also switch to low beam when you see someone trying to turn onto or cross the road you are driving on. The bright lights can make it impossible for them to properly judge your distance and speed.


  • If road conditions are such that you are afraid to drive, don't. Pull off and wait, or stay home.
  • Never wait until the very last second to leave for work, school or errands. Rushing will likely cause you to drive erratically. Allow extra travel time, in case there is an accident or road work on your route to your destination.
  • Semi Trucks are a lot bigger than even the largest SUV, and the drivers often have limited viewing areas to the side and behind them. Give them space. They also have a LOT more weight (sometimes 40 times the weight of an average car) to stop. If you are approaching a stoplight, DO NOT pull in front of a semi-truck. Semi-truck drivers estimate the amount of room they need to stop. If you pull in front of them, it changes their margins and they must brake harder, possibly causing an accident.
  • During a severe weather event, such as a blizzard or hurricane, local and state authorities may order unnecessary traffic off the roads. Heed these warnings! Even if there is no such requirement given, don't drive unnecessarily if you are under a state of emergency or a severe weather warning, which could degrade road conditions significantly.
  • Any steps or tips given here should be validated against local driving laws.
  • Avoid doing other things while driving, like eating or drinking, talking or texting on a cell phone, etc. In fact, in some places, it is illegal to do some of these activities while driving.
  • Being tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs (including many over-the-counter cold remedies) greatly increases the likelihood that you will hurt yourself or someone else. Stop the car in a safe place and wait until the effects have worn off.
  • All Wheel Drive/4WD does not ensure safety in harsh conditions or decrease braking distance, and use of part-time four wheel drive on dry roads could cause damage to the vehicle. Always use precautions when driving in dangerous weather.
  • If you are annoyed yourself, you are more likely to annoy other drivers. Relax, take it easy and leave room for other drivers that are more confused about driving than you are.

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