Manners for Pedestrians and Drivers

Spring, is all about cleaning up from the doldrums of winter.  So how about a fresh outlook on your walking and driving habits?

I’m human, too. I used to run late for meetings and appointments. Pressed to arrive at my destination on time, I’d aggressively push that red light, speed around slower traffic, and elbow my way across the street and into a crowded elevator. I’d make the meeting on time, feeling anxious, aggravated, and too exhausted to take on the task at hand. I realized I preferred to arrive at appointments alive, calm, and ready to be creative. I cleaned up my act and poor transportation habits and happily share these tips for you to do the same. Remember, the road rage you prevent may be your own!

Before You Leave

1. Be realistic about how much time your trip will take. When traveling to an unfamiliar place, check one of the on-line mapping programs—maps.yahoo.com or mapquest.com—to gauge the distance and time required. Allow extra time for high-traffic periods and poor weather and road conditions.

2. Cheat on your departure time. Set your clock or computer to ring 15 minutes ahead of when you absolutely need to leave the office. When that alarm rings, cease whatever you are doing. If you aren’t finished with your work, it certainly will be there when you return. Close down your tasks and leave, no matter what.

Think about it, had you suddenly realized you were supposed to be someplace, wouldn’t you have dropped everything and left anyway? What’s the difference? The difference is by closing down 15 minutes before you need to leave and allowing yourself the proper time to get to your destination, you save yourself anxiety and worry.

3. Organize your belongings. Establish a place near your office or home door to place items you need to take with you, including the telephone number to the location or person you are meeting—just in case. Knowing exactly where to find your keys, your cell phone, and the file you need for the meeting will save you anxious minutes prior to departure.

Pedestrians

4. Watch your step and wait your turn. Wait and do not step off the sidewalk until it is your turn to cross the street. In addition to being dangerous, when you wait in the street you block the right-of-way of drivers who want to make turns. By law, if a driver sees a pedestrian on the street, the driver must stop and allow the pedestrian to cross. Even if a pedestrian waives the driver through, if the driver does not stop, he or she is subject to a moving violation. On many high-traffic streets the lights are configured to allow all pedestrians to walk at the same time, separate from the vehicles. Be patient and wait for the proper light for pedestrians to cross the street.

5. Share the sidewalk. When strolling down the street, stay to one side of the space and allow others to pass. If you’re walking with others, some of the group may need to walk behind the others, allowing other pedestrians to pass in either direction.

When You’re Driving

6. Please stop at red lights. Running red lights is my biggest rage about drivers on city streets. Unless you are already in the intersection, when you see a yellow light, consider it a red light and stop. Especially when you are more than one car-length away from the intersection, do not step on the gas pedal thinking you will make it across. Sure you may make it this time, but as time goes on, inch by inch your perception of that car length will become longer and longer, to the point you will find yourself going through red lights more and more often. Ultimately you may cause an accident, hurt someone or get a ticket. Simply don’t do it. Relax. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to do the right thing by stopping.

7. Weaving is for rugs, not traffic. Changing lanes without signaling, making turns from the incorrect lanes, and weaving around slower vehicles without regard to other drivers are all illegal, and dangerous.

8. Passing lanes are for passing. When driving on highways, the far left lane is properly a passing lane. Do not stay in that lane indefinitely; use it for passing only. Don’t be oblivious to the cars behind you. Go with the flow of traffic.

9. Tailgating is a party, not a driving style. Driving too close to another car is rude. What purpose does this serve? Tailgating only causes fear to the person in front of you and frustration to you. Please leave at least one car length between you and the car ahead when on city streets. When on the highway, leave 3-seconds between you and the car ahead—that is, when the car ahead of you passes an object (sign, pothole, etc.), it should be 3 seconds before you pass that same object.  This means the distance between you and the car ahead gets longer as your speed increases.

10. Limit your hankering to honk. The automobile horn was created to warn other cars in emergency situations. Honking a horn, especially at a crowded intersection, serves no purpose. Your car horn is not an all-purpose frustration vent to get other people to move out of your way.

Take a few minutes today to consider your behavior and attitude about getting places on time. I believe that springing into good pedestrian and driver habits will make you a better citizen and a happier person. Less worry and aggressive behavior may even make you healthier. I know from experience that you will make appointments on time and have a greater feeling of inner peace, confidence, and authority when you plan ahead and travel with courtesy. Behind the wheel or walking the streets, keep in mind to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Question:  What other items do you have to add to this list? Do let us hear from you by entering your comments below.  You may also reach us at Info@AdvancedEtiquette.com.  If you enjoyed this article and want more, subscribe to our “Etiquette Tip of the Month” newsletter—at no charge—filled with great monthly tips on all sorts of topics from international business and social etiquette and protocol to everyday life subjects.  It will be great to have you as a member of our happy family of subscribers at www.AdvancedEtiquette.com/subscribe.

Happy Practicing!

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