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Motoring Manners and Etiquette

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 26 Jan 2011 | comments*Discuss
Motoring Manners And Etiquette

Road rage, impatience, obscene gestures, vulgar comments and incompetent handling of a vehicle … these are all daily features of life on UK roads. But if motorists follow some simple rules of manners and etiquette, car travel would be calmer and pleasanter. There might even be fewer accidents.

Backseat Driver

Never be a backseat driver. Making comments, sighing, fidgeting and staring in a worried fashion at the road are inappropriate. These things aggravate drivers. Tension develops and spoils what could otherwise be an agreeable trip. Passengers should sit back and enjoy the journey.

Bad Jokes

The time has come for men to put aside bad jokes about women drivers. These are hackneyed and unfunny. They offend half of the UK’s population.

Calmness and Courtesy

A driver should be calm at all times. A calm approach to driving gives passengers a sense of comfort and security.

Male drivers should always open and close car doors for female passengers. They should also place shopping bags in the boot and retrieve them when the journey is over. If a female passenger wishes to retain a bag, the driver should offer to hold it while the passenger enters or leaves the vehicle.


People remove hats when they enter a building. They should also take them off when entering a car. This is not just a question of manners. Hats perched on passengers’ heads can obscure a driver’s view out of the side and back windows.

Heating and Other Controls

The driver is in control of the car. A passenger should never lean across and adjust heating controls, play with the radio or beep the horn. Ask the driver for permission first, although a passenger should never use the car horn under any circumstances.


Drivers should always check that their passengers are happy with the music content on the radio or CD. They should also adjust the volume if requested. It is particularly bad manners to have a car’s windows open and the radio turned up loud. Other motorists, and pedestrians, don’t want to hear someone else’s taste in music.

Other Drivers

No matter how bad the manners of other motorists, a driver should never lose his or her temper. It is far better to be calm, considerate and patient. Other drivers may take advantage of this approach by cutting in and stealing parking spaces. But a well-mannered driver shrugs and carries on without becoming upset or making a rude comment.


Not everyone likes pets. If a driver is carrying passengers and pets, he or she should ensure the pets are under control. The driver should also let the passengers know in advance that pets will be in the vehicle.


A car is a confined space. Eating food in a car, especially spicy or fried food, can create a nasty, lingering smell. Vehicle occupants should either keep food away from cars or lower the windows while eating. Remember it is illegal to eat while driving.

Drivers and passengers should also use only a moderate amount of aftershave or perfume if they plan to take a car journey with passengers. Excessive fragrance can upset some people and even lead to sneezing fits.


It is not good manners to expect passengers to ride in a car that’s dirty. The interior should always be tidy. The bodywork should be reasonably clean. Dirt from the bodywork or dust from the interior can easily transfer to passengers’ clothes.

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