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8 Little-Known Driving Courtesies From Across the US

January 08, 2016

No matter how long you’ve been driving, there are always going to be new tips or bizarre little secrets of the road to uncover. Here’s a selection of driving courtesies, some of which you might know, some of which are a little more obscure. Each one could make you a little kinder while you’re behind the wheel.

1.    If you aren’t in any hurry, keep in mind that in some states slower drivers are encouraged to drive in the right lane, allowing faster-moving cars to pass in the left lane. In some states police can even ticket drivers who are not traveling at the minimum speed (sometimes 40 MPH on a freeway). Slower drivers can be considered a hindrance to traffic flow.

2.    Semi drivers have unwritten rules they follow that you can watch out for. When one semi is passing another, the non-passing semi driver will quickly flash their headlights to let the passing semi know when there is enough space for passer’s trailer to move back into the right lane. Once one semi driver has successfully passed the other, the driver will tap their brakes quickly, using their brake lights to serve as a “thank you.”

3.    Wondering when you should turn on your blinker? In some states, drivers (especially new ones) are encouraged to use telephone poles as markers for when to activate their turning signals. Turn on your blinker at the last telephone pole before your turn.

4.    If you see two motorcycle riders passing each other, keep an eye on their hands. Bikers will often give each other “The Wave,” their left hand aimed out and down from their bike. Why down? So that they don’t throw off the weight of their bike.

5.    To yield or not to yield? The rule is that the car that is not on the left has the right-of-way, but sometimes things can get confusing. If your car and another keep starting and stopping, be the bigger driver and wave for them to go first. If it’s too dark to see a wave, flash your headlights (but not your brights) to signal that the other driver should go first.

6.    When you’re switching lanes, you should aim to see both of the headlights of the car you’re passing in your side mirror before signaling to get over. This is routinely taught to new drivers, but even experienced drivers should keep this in mind. It’s an easy way to avoid dangerous (and costly) collisions.

7.    Like motorcycle riders, Jeep drivers also have their own wave. When another Jeep driver is spotted, the drivers wave to each other. If the Jeep’s top is down, tradition calls for the wave to be above the windshield.

8.    Unique courtesies also extend to off-road vehicles. Snowmobilers will hold up a number of fingers to tell drivers how many other snowmobile riders are behind them. They also will tap their helmet the same number of times. This helps keep narrow trails navigable, with passing drivers waiting on the side until all the snowmobilers have safely passed.

There’s always something new you can learn about driving, whether you’re a newbie or a vehicle veteran. The next time you’re out, keep an eye out for other drivers incorporating these courtesies into their commute. Maybe you’ll even spot some more obscure signals to look up when you get home.

No matter where you’re driving or what kind of vehicle it is, you need to make sure you’re covered before the unexpected happens. Your local Farm Bureau agent can help.