The raised hand of thanks, getting in the correct lane and forming orderly queues at rush hour are among Britain’s most common unofficial traffic regulations.
Motoring experts from LeaseCar.uk have revealed 13 of the UK’s unwritten road rules that we should make sure they follow to avoid annoying other drivers.
Other typically observed driving guidelines not featured in the official Highway Code, include making quick fuel stops, keeping music at an acceptable volume, keeping up with the speed limit when it’s safe to do so and paying attention at traffic lights.
Parking standards include squeezing up on residential streets rather than occupying two spaces and leaving vehicles in the middle of parking bays to keep doors accessible.
Tim Alcock of LeaseCar.uk said: “The Highway Code is a thorough guide that all motorists should keep up to date with, to stay safe and on the right side of the law.
“But what the official driving handbook doesn’t tell new drivers is all of the unwritten rules and practices you regularly observe when behind the wheel in the UK.
“To help car owners of all ages learn or re-familiarise themselves with what other road users expect of them, we’ve highlighted some of the common practices that most British drivers usually adhere to.”
1. Say thank you when another driver gives way
If a fellow driver has the courtesy to give way or is otherwise helpful in their conduct on the roads, their gesture is often acknowledged with a raised hand to say thank you. If you need to maintain a tight grip on the wheel, a raised finger, obvious nod or mouthed thanks will usually do.
2. Get in the correct lane as soon as possible
Drivers leaving a motorway at the next exit, arriving at their destination or simply approaching a junction should get themselves into the correct lane at the first safe opportunity, to avoid annoying other motorists by forcing them to slow down or move to let you in at the last minute.
3. Park in the middle of parking bays
In retail, town centre and other car parks, all drivers should park their vehicles well, in the middle of the bays, rather than right up to the white lines. This allows everyone ample room to open their doors, get in and out, and load goods in the boot.
4. Be quick at petrol pumps
Once motorists have paid for their fuel, it’s considerate to get back into their vehicle and get out of the way. If you have receipts to check, snacks to eat or messages to reply to, pull in to a parking space where you won’t be making fellow drivers wait for access to the pumps. Don’t do a weekly shop in the store while you’re obstructing other vehicles, either.
5. Don’t queue jump in traffic
If traffic is queuing along the inside lane at lights, roundabouts or on dual carriageways, it’s unacceptable for other motorists to see you skip past them as they patiently wait and then try to force your way in at the head of the line.
6. Squeeze up when street parking
A large parking space on a busy residential street shouldn’t be seen as an opportunity to dump your vehicle. Park up properly, close to the vehicle in front or behind, so another driver can squeeze in too – don’t take up two spots.
7. Merge lanes one by one
When two lanes merge in to one, it’s not a competition to muscle out other vehicles. Drivers can show manners and allow traffic to keep flowing by allowing lanes to merge equally, taking a vehicle from each forward in turn.
8. Don’t block access when parking
It perhaps should be illegal to block someone’s driveway or the pavement, but parking right up to or directly opposite a dropped kerb isn’t against the law even if it restricts access, and neither is pavement parking outside of London. There’s an unwritten rule, though, that says drivers should leave enough space for homeowners and pedestrians to go about their day unimpeded.
9. Leave gaps in queuing traffic for access
An orderly queue of British traffic ought to leave a polite gap for vehicles to enter and exit side roads, shops, facilities or other clear points of access. It’s rude to completely bunch up and prevent another vehicle from turning across the queue. If another vehicle wants to join the traffic, meanwhile, then a static moment is the perfect opportunity to let them in – you’re not getting anywhere while the lights are on red anyway.
10. Vacate the inside lane near junctions on dual carriageways
If there’s time and space to move over to the right when travelling past junctions on dual carriageways, it can help fellow drivers. Vacating the inside lane near entrance slip lanes allows other vehicles the stress-free opportunity to safely join the motorway at their lower speed, while you get past and then move back to the inside lane beyond the junction.
11. Don’t blare out excessively loud music
Music fans shouldn’t play their favourite tunes at top volume when behind the wheel, as anti-socially inflicting your tastes on other drivers could prove distracting and dangerous, especially on warm days when your windows are down.
12. Speed up if it’s safe
When weather, road and traffic conditions are suitably safe, most drivers try to keep up with the speed limit – that means travelling at least 60-something miles per hour on a dual carriageway, for example, rather than blocking the inside lane at 45 or 50mph when there’s no reason to slow down.
13. When the lights say go, go
Motorists are usually expected to pay attention to traffic lights when they stop and accelerate away as soon as the green light appears, rather than rummaging through the glovebox, fiddling with switches or turning to passengers for a chat, which can lead to holding up the traffic behind you.