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Louise Elerding: Auto manners - honk if you like etiquette

You’ve Got Manners

Posted: January 21, 2010 10:39 p.m.
Updated: January 22, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Etiquette is needed everywhere, including driving and riding in a vehicle. Being a polite and considerate driver - and passenger - also supports the safety issues of being on the road.

As the driver of the car, it's your job to be sure the car is in good running order, has plenty of fuel, and is free of interior clutter - for the comfort of your guests.

Check to be sure everyone's seat belt is in place. Have necessary tools in the trunk - first aid kit, flashlight, blanket, and camera. It's also your responsibility to drive safely, without speeding or creating any tension with your driving skills.

Did you know that there is a "seat of honor" in a car? It's similar to being at the dining table, and the guest of honor sits to the right of the host.

In your car, the seat of honor is to the right of the driver - the front passenger seat. In business, that seat would be for your client or highest ranking person. In social situations, it would be for the oldest person.

Seat choices also will take into consideration who has the longest legs.

If you have a very vocal "back-seat driver," you have the right to say that their comments are a distraction to you, and you would like them to hold their ideas until later when you've stopped the car.

Directional signals are engineered in cars - to be used. Drivers around you cannot foresee what your plans are, so always use the directional signal as a courtesy to others.

You may not see anyone in your path of vision but there could be someone off to the side who needs to know your turning plans.

How often have you waited for a car to pass you, only to find they turn before they reach you - and there was no need for you to wait. Being considerate makes everyone a happier driver.

Horns are critically valuable when an accident of any kind is about to happen, but using horns because of impatience is not polite.

Unnecessary horns create noise pollution, startle and scare people. Use them only to avoid a mishap.

As the passenger, it's best not to put anyone in an awkward situation by asking if smoking is alright.

If you are a smoker, refrain from asking, or smoking, unless the driver is smoking.

Cell phones in cars are a hazard. If you are the driver, use only a hands-free system.

If you are the passenger, make any calls as brief as possible, and make your apologies to those around you.

Respecting handicap zones is another considerate matter. Leave them open for those who need them, and let the parking angel find you another good spot. Taking up two parking spaces, or blocking someone will not serve you well.

This is a good time to observe the Golden Rule.

When you have been involved in an accident, remain unemotional and non-accusing. This is the time to focus on exchanging information: identification, insurance policies, license numbers and use the disposable camera you have in your emergency bag from the trunk.

If you've damaged someone else's vehicle, and they are not present, do the courteous thing by leaving a note with your contact information.

Again, an opportunity to do to others as you would like to have done to you.

Using your best manners when a police officer arrives at the scene is to your ultimate advantage.

If ever there is a time to be polite and non-argumentative, this is it.

Personal safety is a priority when driving and riding, so be an extra aware driver when you have passengers with you, and as the passenger, never hesitate to ask the driver to let you out of an automobile if you feel endangered.

Driving etiquette makes life so much more enjoyable and stress-free to all of your fellow drivers on the road, and ultimately to yourself.

It could even make a difference in your driving record - thus possibly reducing your insurance costs. Replacing road rage with road etiquette is a good resolution - and it is fully loaded with benefits.

Louise Elerding, is a Manners, Etiquette, and Personal Appearance Coach, and the author of "You've Got Manners!" - an illustrated series of children's books. For information on Table Manners classes held at the Salt Creek Grille in Valencia, and to submit questions for the "Ask Louise' column, call 1-800-326-8953 or e-mail Web site:


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