KEEP COOL! DRIVE SMART!

 

Motorists would be well advised to keep their cool in traffic, to be patient and courteous to other drivers, and to correct unsafe driving habits that are likely to endanger, infuriate, or antagonize other motorists. Be aware of the behaviors that have resulted in violence in the past:

 Lane blocking. Don't block the passing lane. Stay out of the far left lane and yield to the right for any vehicle that wants to overtake you. If someone demands to pass, allow him/her to do so.

 Tailgating. Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Dozens of deadly traffic altercations began when one driver tailgated another.

 Signal use. Don't switch lanes without first signaling your intention, and make sure you don't cut someone off when you move over. After you've made the maneuver, turn your signals off.

 Gestures. You are playing Russian roulette if you raise a middle finger to another driver. Obscene gestures have gotten people shot, stabbed, or beaten in every state.

 Horn use. Use your horn sparingly. If you must get someone's attention in a non- emergency situation, tap your horn lightly. Think twice before using your horn to say "hello" to a passing pedestrian; the driver in front of you may think you are honking at him. Don't blow your horn at the driver in front of you the second the light turns green. If a stressed-out motorist is on edge, the noise may set him off. Scores of shootings began with a driver honking the horn.

 Failure to turn. In most areas right-hand turns are allowed after a stop at a red light. Avoid the right-hand lane if you are not turning right.

 Parking. Do not take more than one parking space and do not park in a handicapped parking space if you are not handicapped. Don't allow your door to strike an adjacent parked vehicle. When parallel parking, do not tap the other vehicles with your own. Look before backing up.

 Headlights. Keep headlights on low beam, except where unlighted conditions require the use of high beams. Dim your lights for oncoming traffic; don't retaliate to oncoming high beams with your own in order to "teach them a lesson." Don't approach a vehicle from the rear with high beams and dim your lights as soon as a passing vehicle is alongside.

 Merging. When traffic permits, move out of the right-hand acceleration lane of a freeway to allow vehicles to enter from the on-ramps.

 Blocking traffic. If you are pulling a trailer or driving a cumbersome vehicle that impedes traffic behind you, pull over when you have the opportunity so that motorists behind you can pass. Also, do not block the road while talking to a pedestrian on the sidewalk. Dozens of shooting suggest that this behavior irritates a lot of people.

 Car phones. Don't let the car phone become a distraction -- keep your eyes and attention on the road. Car phones can be great for security but bad for safety. In addition, car phone users are widely perceived as being poor drivers and as constituting a traffic hazard. The data clearly show that aggressive drivers hate fender- benders with motorists who were talking on the telephone.

 Alarms. If you have an anti-theft alarm on your vehicle, be sure you know how to turn it off. When buying an alarm, select one that turns off after a short period of time.

 Displays. Refrain from showing any type of bumper sticker or slogan that could be offensive; this might include a Confederate Flag or "IM RICH" license plate.

 Eye Contact. If a hostile motorist tries to pick a fight, do not make eye contact. This can be seen as a challenging gesture and incite the other driver to violence. Instead, move out of the way but do not acknowledge the other driver. If a motorist pursues you, do not go home. Instead, drive to a police station, convenience store, or other location where you can get help and there will be witnesses.