Road etiquette as a driver

PHOTO: Pexels

In an ideal world, we'd all be courteous on the roads. We'd all signal in advance, give way to one another, and generally be nice to the other road users.

But the real world works a little differently. Despite stringent surveillance, errant motorists are still a common sight, which is why citizen vigilante groups are so popular online.

Having said that though, is it really that difficult to show other commuters some basic respect? Are there some fundamental behavioural changes we could all adopt to improve our etiquette from behind the wheel?

Use your indicators

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PHOTO: Carcody

Indicators are the only way you can communicate your intent of direction of travel with the others around you. As per our driving handbooks, signalling in advance to give other drivers around you ample time to react.

It does take two hands to clap though - when a fellow motorist indicates, do create space for him/her to filter when it is safe to do so.

Ultimately, when compounded, some simple courtesy here will minimise traffic bottlenecks, leading to smoother traffic flow and less time stuck in a frustrating jam.

Avoiding congestion - isn't that what we all want?

Don't tailgate

Your shiny new car may have impressively powerful anchors that can arrest momentum far quicker than is indicated in your driving guidebooks, but that isn't a good enough reason for you to tailgate.

Technically speaking, you are tailgating when the distance between you and the car ahead falls below the recommended gap for the speed that you're travelling at. Although, in reality, tailgaters often "sit" on the rear bumper of the car ahead, taunting the slower driver to move out of the way.

It's obvious why you shouldn't partake in such an act though. With little to no distance for you to react, in the event the cars in front need to brake for any reason, you'll find yourself lodged in the metalwork of the car ahead. If you are really pressed for time, perhaps consider using a less congested lane!

Don't use your phone while driving 

Legally, you are not allowed to use your phone whilst on the move. Distracted driving greatly increases the risk of a collision. It also increases your reaction time, as you have to first reacquaint yourself with the happenings ahead of you, before being able to respond as needed to the situation.

You can use your mobile phone whilst stationary at a traffic light. But then again, you may inadvertently hold up traffic as you remain unaware of the change in the lights as you scroll through your favourite social media app.

The LTA has frowned upon using electronic devices whilst in motion, so much so that it is an act that is punishable by up to a six-month jail term, a $1,000 fine, or both. If you must, do find a slip road, or a carpark to pull over in, to make that all-important phone call!

Don't cruise on the right lane 

The right lane is designated as the overtaking lane, and it's self-explanatory as to what it's used for. However, you'd find others using it to satiate their need for speed, or simply to get somewhere fast.

Which isn't a huge problem in itself. What is an issue, are drivers using the lane, but driving significantly slower than the speed limit of the road.

To get around this issue, you'd see road users opting to overtake from the left, or by weaving in and out of traffic. Putting danger aside, we're sure that probably doesn't make for the most comfortable of journeys.

If we all used the overtaking lane for its intended purpose, wouldn't traffic flow be much better?

READ ALSO: Speeding offences in Singapore: Everything you need to know

Don't abuse your high beam

Perhaps one of our biggest pet peeves. A car's high beam function was designed to create better visibility in adverse weather conditions, or if there is insufficient artificial lighting when the situation calls for it.

There is simply no need to use it in Singapore, where our roads are well-lit. High beams blind the drivers ahead, making it even harder for them to make out who's around them when all they see is a bright bulb of light bouncing off the rearview mirror in the car.

Not exactly ideal or conducive for a safe commute, isn't it?

Being an upstanding citizen 

Your behaviour on the road directly impacts someone else's perception of your character. Create a better impression, and be a more courteous driver by getting rid of bad road etiquette.

You'd definitely come across more errant drivers on your travels (typically in an older zhng-ed out COE economy car), but we suggest you not retaliate and simply wave them by.

Besides, as we've said at the start of this piece, it takes two hands to clap, so someone has to start being respectful on the roads first eh?

This article was first published in Motorist