Real World Driving Tips

Travelers who quit driving before they get too tired, anticipate the needs of other fellow highway users, exhibit a little common courtesy, and go with the flow, are the ones who have the safest, most enjoyable vacation trips.


Do not drive the speed limit if the rest of the traffic is not moving at that speed. If your preferred speed is 65 mph but the slower (right) lane traffic is moving 62 mph and the faster (left) lane is approaching 70 mph, either slow down or speed up, but don't fight or obstruct the flow. Going with the flow is far safer and much less aggravating than forcing other to march to your beat

Lane Courtesy

American drivers are renowned for neither understanding nor appreciating the importance of lane courtesy, i.e., slower traffic keep right and faster traffic pass on the left. If you're in the left lane and slower vehicles are in your way, give the other drivers a chance to find an opening in the right lane. Don't climb onto their trunk; signal your intentions with 4 or 5 blinks of your left directional. A brief flash of the headlights may be necessary to clarify your intentions. If they refuse to move, don't lose your temper. Write the lane blockers off as ignorant, incompetent or inconsiderate and work your way around them as best you can. if traffic is heavy, revert to the prior recommendation on speed.

Remember, just as current day speed limits have very little to do with safety, lane courtesy has nothing to do with speed limits. If you're in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let them by, Leave traffic law enforcement to the authorities.


In the "good ole days" when long travel was largely on two-lane roads, a critical weapon in every driver's arsenal was a neck-snapping passing gear. Hanging around in the opposing lane of traffic was universally understood to be bad for ones health.

With the convenience and safety that came with Interstate highways also came the "cruise control pass". This is evidenced when one motorist traveling with cruise control set at 65 mph moves to the left and proceeds to take 10 minutes to pass another vehicle going 64.5 mph. Meanwhile, a platoon of vehicles is stacking up in both the right-and left-hand lane.

Another variation of this practice is the cruise control devotee who lays up alongside a large truck. This significantly limits a truck driver's emergency options or prevents him/her from moving into the right lane.

It's not necessary to punch the passing gear to overtake another vehicle on the Interstate. But, if you're going to pass, then do so promptly and deliberately. Everyone will appreciate your clear intentions and decisiveness.


Traffic would move infinitely faster and more safely if motorists would anticipate the needs of their fellow travelers. Moving to the left lane or opening up space for merging traffic is a common form of anticipation. There are other less common courtesies that cost nothing in time or money, but greatly expedite traffic flow and reduce aggravation.

By adjusting your left lane speed, you can permit a vehicle in the right lane to pass another vehicle that is obstructing traffic. When moving from the right lane to execute a pass in the left lane, you should match the speed of the traffic flowing in the left lane. If safety is a high priority to you, this is not a time for blind obedience to speed limits.


You're reached your vacation paradise destination, you are rested up, and now you want you want to kick back and take in some of the local scenery. There are hundreds of thousands of miles of lightly traveled roads that lend themselves well to this activity. However, those roads also carry the local people to work and shopping. Furthermore, farmers and tradespeople conduct their commerce on these same corridors.

Blending the sighseer with local traffic isn't all that difficult. All it takes is an occasional glance in the rearview mirror. If traffic is collecting behind you, unable to pass, just pull over where there's room and let them go by. The aggravation factor is reduced for everybody. Your fun is enhanced and their trip is safer, faster, and more pleasant.

Need Help

Nothing fouls up a vacation more than cat trouble. The stock recommendation is that you should stay in your vehicle and wait for help. However, waiting for official help in several states is tantamount to opting for roadside starvation. Therefore, plan on fending for yourself.

Despite everything hear and see to the contrary, people will go to ridiculous lengths to help a fellow motorist who is clearly in need of such help. The key factor is that the "need for help" must be glaringly obvious. Tying rags on radio antennas and opening hoods won't do it.

For many years now, the National Motorist Association has promoted and publicized a universal "Need Help" signal. It is the crossing of one hand over the other, identical to the "time out" signal used in athletic contests. A person standing alongside the road displaying this "need help" signal eliminates any question as to his/her request for assistance.

Source: "NMA Motorist's Guide to State and Provincial Traffic Laws", pg 9-11; 1994, National Motorists Association (6678 Pertzborn Road, Dane, Wisconsin 53529; 608/849-6000; Typed up with permission by Kevin Atkinson.

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