For any interpersonal encounter to be successful, good communication must be present. Proper use of tone, symbols, expression and both verbal and body language can keep things flowing smoothly, and this is just as true on the roadway as it is in the bedroom or boardroom. Good driver communication can let you save your superior evasive action driving skills for another day.
Broadcasting from the Driver’s Seat
Communicating well from behind the wheel can prevent you from meeting other drivers by accident. While you are driving, you must do everything you can to communicate your intentions to other drivers. Modern automobiles come equipped with many features to make the task easy so make sure to take advantage of them.
Turn signals – A change in the direction of travel by a nearby car is a crucial piece of information for a driver to have so, for crying out loud, use your blinker! I used to think that turn signals were optional equipment on luxury cars as so few Lexus, Mercedes and Cadillac drivers use them. Just let me know where you are going. I’ll be happy to get the heck out of your way.
Brake lights – Unlike turn signals, these babies work automatically letting drivers behind on that you are slowing down. Unfortunately, brakes are the only way to reduce the car’s speed. The driver of a car with standard transmission may gear down, so you will want to be careful driving behind anyone. This is particularly the case at close range or in stop and go traffic.
Backup lights – This is another communiqué issued by the car itself letting those behind you know that you are backing up. However, it is up to you to give those who are sharing the road with the opportunity to see them. If you are preparing to back into a driveway or parking space, shift into reverse and hold a beat before you start your maneuver. This is definitely important when parallel parking. Without a little warning, the car behind you may presume that you are going to continue down the road and will pull in close behind, preventing you from pulling into the space.
Hazard lights – you are experiencing difficulty with your car, be sure to activate your hazard lights. That way other drivers can adjust and pulled around you instead of pulling in behind you waiting for you to move.
Horn – Carmakers should really work on this one. Horns could be so much more expressive. There should be separate honks for “Come on over,” “No, after you,” and “Watch out, you moron!” Until the car companies get this right, the horn should probably be saved for times when a collision appears imminent. Otherwise, other drivers could mistake your honk of greeting as an act of aggression and respond in kind.
There is one last piece of communication equipment remaining, but it is standard on the driver and not the car. I’m talking about the hands. Hands can be used to invite another driver to pull in front of you in traffic or to take your turn at the four way stop. Hands can be used wave a thank you to another driver who has extended you a courtesy. However you choose to use your hands to communicate with others you are sharing the road with, bear one thing in mind. Communication via hand is most effective when all the fingers are used.