15 Driving Etiquette Rules We’d All Really Like Everyone to Follow (Please?)

Remember that you share the road with others, so keep an eye on your own road etiquette and pack some patience for those drivers who may not remember these rules.

businessman driving car
Updated May 28, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

It can be frustrating to take to the streets with drivers who are careless or don’t follow simple rules of the road.

Everything from turn signals to stop lights may be mismanaged by a less-than-stellar driver behind the wheel.

So before you take to the open road, here’s a refresher on some driver etiquette rules that you may want to remember and hope other drivers pay attention. Some of these could even cost you a ticket if a cop sees you not following them.

Don’t text and drive

Andrey Popov/Adobe man typing text message on mobile phone while driving car

This is simple driving etiquette that can make sharing the road easier and could also save your life. Remember to always keep your eyes on the road instead of being a distracted driver with their nose in their phone while the car is in motion.

Pay attention at stoplights

New Africa/Adobe  traffic lights and pedestrian crossing road sign outdoors

Sometimes you may end up being the first person in line at a red light, but that isn’t the time to start playing with the radio, texting your friends, or scrolling through social media on your phone. Keep an eye on the lights so you’re ready to go when they turn green, or risk getting honked at by drivers behind you.

Pull over for emergency vehicles

bluraz/Adobe fire trucks and firefighters brigade in the city

Not only is it important to pull over for emergency vehicles, it’s also the law. If you see lights or sirens in your mirrors, look for a good place to safely pull over and give emergency vehicles the room to get past. Remember they are rushing to an emergency or taking someone to a nearby hospital.

Be respectful of others’ cars

Snapic.PhotoProduct/Adobe driver sitting in a car with female passenger

A side hustle like a ride-sharing driver is a great way to make some extra cash. But if you’re a passenger rather than the driver, you should follow some basic etiquette even if you’re the one paying for the ride.

Remember to show respect to your driver and their vehicle as it’s usually their personal car. Try to treat both well and you’ll get a good rating on ride-sharing apps.

Insure your vehicle

H_Ko/Adobe male hands hold ballpoint pen over car insurance form

New Hampshire is the only state that does not require car insurance, but that doesn’t mean every car on the road is insured.

Car insurance can cover repairs, damages and other costs if you’re in an accident. But if you’re hit by an uninsured motorist, it may be difficult to get them to pay up.

Pro tip: There are ways to save money on car insurance if you need coverage to protect both you and potentially others if there’s an incident.

Park between the lines

Tanya Rozhnovskaya/Adobe cars in the parking lot

It can be so frustrating to roam the parking lot for a spot only to find that other drivers are taking up two spots or haven’t parked properly to let you have a small piece of asphalt for your car. Instead, be mindful of the lines when you park your car and consider straightening your car out and trying again if you don’t get it quite right on the first try.

Give a wave to thank drivers

F8 \ Suport Ukraine/Adobe man wave greetings to someone while driving his car

Did a driver let you get in line as a lane narrowed or maybe slowed to give you space to pull out into traffic? Some drivers may be polite while sharing the road, so give a nice wave of acknowledgement to thank them and perhaps encourage them to promote proper etiquette in the future.

Learn how to zipper merge

soupstock/Adobe traffic and highway signs on the highway

Construction traffic and closed lanes can be frustrating, but there is a proper way to handle them. Pull up as far as you can before the lane closes and merge in with the cars in the lane that is still open. Try not to hold up traffic behind you by pushing into a small break way before the closure starts. That causes longer back-ups and issues with the traffic behind you.

Be mindful of your brights

Ivan Kurmyshov/Adobe car fast speed drive on asphalt road at dusk

The bright option for your headlights is a great way to light dark areas when you’re driving at night. But brights may be too bright when you encounter oncoming traffic. So remember to be aware of cars coming toward you and adjust your lights so you don’t blind other drivers.

Stay with your car at the gas pump

New Africa/Adobe young woman refueling car at self service gas station

It’s not a good time to wander if you have the gas pump nozzle in your car to fill up your tank. You’ll want to keep an eye on the nozzle to make sure it doesn’t spill or cause potentially hazardous issues. And once your tank is full, try to pull out of the way and park in a parking spot to grab something from inside the gas station so others can use your pump.

Don’t litter

Вячеслав Думчев/Adobe woman throws waste from the car

You may have trash in your car from a fast-food lunch stop or an empty cup from your morning coffee. Don’t throw it out the window while you’re on the highway so you don’t have to deal with it. Instead, keep roads clean and take your trash with you to dispose of properly.

Remember your turn signal

Sergey/Adobe turn signal knob in a car

It can be dangerous when a driver in front of you turns without warning. Turn signals are on a car to alert other drivers that you’re planning to go a certain direction. It’s also good to remember to turn off your signal after you’ve switched lanes or don’t need it any longer.

Use the passing lane to pass

Birgit Reitz-Hofmann/Adobe highway in Germany

The left lane on highways and freeways is the place to pass slower vehicles. The passing lane isn’t for slow traffic. Instead, try to get past a car as quickly and safely as possible in the passing lane and then move out of that lane so that others can pass you as needed.

Don’t block the box

Gudellaphoto/Adobe Urban traffic from above

Think of the middle of an intersection as a box that you shouldn’t be stuck in. You don’t want to be caught with the back of your car sticking into oncoming traffic when their light turns green. Stay on the correct side of the traffic light if you see stopped traffic ahead and wait until you have enough room to completely go through the intersection.

Remember your passengers

ASDF/Adobe happy friends talking in the car

You don’t want to be the person that no one wants to ride with because you’re not paying attention or fussing with buttons and knobs the entire ride. You also need to remember that passengers may be a distraction. Feel free to ask the passengers in your car to quiet down or stop behaving a certain way if you need to pay attention to the road.

Bottom line

Flamingo Images/Adobe  young women driving in a car

It’s a good idea to remind yourself and other drivers of the best driving etiquette rules before you pull out of your garage or driveway. Obeying the traffic laws and driving at the speed limit are ways to save money on gas. And being a courteous driver may help you stay safe on the road.

Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.