How to Not Be a Bully Behind the Wheel

Photo:  Rebranding Driving
Photo: Rebranding Driving

We’ve all been there. You’re crossing the street, thinking you have a clear path, when the driver waiting at the light starts lurching into the crosswalk, itching for the green signal. Before you know it, you and everyone else crossing has to squeeze around this bully.

Inspired by a recent Jonathan McLeod post (headline: “Stop fucking driving your car at people”), I set out to catalogue a few of the most obnoxious behaviors people routinely engage in behind the wheel of a car.

Intersection bullying — when motorists occupy a chunk of crosswalk real estate that belongs to pedestrians with the right of way — is just one example of the many nasty, antisocial, and downright dangerous things drivers do when they’re interacting with people outside their car.

There’s a ton of bad driving behavior that should be socially unacceptable, but for some reason, granted the anonymity of a car, people engage in it anyway. This routine aggression needs to be called out for what it is — bullying. To start things off, I’ve compiled this short list of things that people should never do behind the wheel.

1. Don’t hog the crosswalk when pedestrians have the right of way

Photo: Rebranding Driving
Photo: Rebranding Driving

Letting pedestrians make full use of the crosswalk when they have the right of way is non-negotiable. There is no benefit to the driver from hogging a crosswalk — there’s only harm to the people crossing on foot. So if you’re driving, don’t start across an intersection unless you’re sure you’ll clear all the crosswalks before the light turns red. And you come to a red light, don’t inch into a crosswalk until the light turns green and there are no people in front of you. If you do, you are a bully.

2. Slow down and yield when someone crosses the street in front of you

pedestrian
Photo: Arrive Alive

See someone crossing the road ahead? Slow down and be prepared to stop. If braking at the sight of human beings in the path of your car feels like an unbearable imposition, you might be a garbage person.

3. Don’t buzz people a few feet away on the sidewalk at high speed

Photo: Transportation for America
Photo: Transportation for America

Having a two-ton vehicle speed past you at 30+ miles per hour can be quite frightening. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to be considerate to others. All you have to do is use your judgment and slow down for two seconds.

4. Don’t honk at the cyclist in front of you

Photo: Richard Masoner/Flickr
Photo: Richard Masoner/Flickr

Cars in motion are always loud. That person on a bike in front of you can already hear your car. Honking at them won’t clarify anything that you’re trying to communicate. It will only signal aggression and startle them. Just. Don’t.

That concludes this quick lesson in courteous driving. But the list could go on a lot longer.

Do you encounter routine motorist bullying that makes your blood boil? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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