Driving Etiquette

When is it appropriate to give someone the finger while driving? Is it ever appropriate?

I really wanted to do that yesterday, but I decided against it.

Don’t you know you’re supposed to keep both hands on the wheel, one at ten o’clock, the other at two o’clock?

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

I say it’s only appropriate if the other driver is a prick. If he:

  1. cuts you off
  2. drifts into your lane
  3. gets the spot YOU wanted
  4. gets in front of you and slows way down
  5. honks at you (anyone who honks at me is a prick by definition, I’m a perfect driver).
  6. is going too slow
  7. is going to fast
  8. roundly obeys the speed limit
  9. is smaller than you

Understand, rule 9 must be met before any of the others.

Draft me and I’ll AWOL. Imprison me and I’ll run. Shoot me and I won’t die, just to annoy you.

It’s often merited, but rarely worth the interaction it can generate. Definitely not a good practice at a stoplight during rush hour.

But I drive home at 6:00, so I can use either hand to finger. :slight_smile:

Of course, I don’t around here (DC). There’ve been several road rage duals and/or deaths caused by lesser provocations. Saying, “Fucking Idiot!” appeases my anger and doesn’t start an incident.

I’m with AWB. Screaming obscenities is less detectable to others and more satisfying than giving somebody the finger. I personally don’t mind getting cut off. What I really mind are:
Oncoming people who drive over the yellow line. This usually happens around blind turns when the road curves right; the oncoming people are curving left and cut the curve somewhat because, of course, making the turn a little gentler is more important than avoiding head-on collisions. I used to avoid them by veering over the white line to my right, but now I’ve decided the proper response is to slow down and hold my position in my lane. If they scrape by me (at a combined speed of 50-70 mph) it’s their fault, and I won’t die, and it will be very satisfying.

People who over-yield, i.e., try to get me to go through the intersection first even though I’m at a stop sign and they’re not. Arg!

Nothing I write about any person or group should be applied to a larger group.

  • Boris Badenov

There are plenty of cretinous, dangerous moves that deserve the finger in return, but I have to agree that it’s probably a bad idea, no matter the provocation. If someone is willing to drive a mass of moving metal as an outlet for rage, it’s a lousy bet that they’d be real responsible if armed.
Driving can make people weird. One book calls it “dinosaur brain”; higher thought and socialization is shortcircuited by pure impluse. Issues of power and territory and aggression revert human back a few eons.
If somone is busily reverting into a bag of seething impulses, it’s wisest to let them go riiiiight on by…


You put it very well, Veb. I have definitely found that my brain kinda gets a little jumpy when driving. That would explain the cursing and visualization of doing terrible things to other cars.

Maybe it’s because you can’t see the other person’s face very well. They’re just a big evil chunk of metal which is easier to treat as a rival dinosaur. Interesting thought.

One interesting thing to note: it is no longer recommended to use this method because of hand injuries when air bags are released. It is now recommended that the driver hold the wheel at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock positions, similar to bus/truck drivers.

As for the whole cursing rather than fingering, I would have to agree. It does give some satisfaction and does not piss off the other driver; however, there are times when I want to let the other person know that he is a prick. Ah, the problems of driving in New Jersey :).

I think that “shotgun” should once again be made a literal term. All passengers should be allowed to carry shotguns and shoot other cars if they don’t obey etiquette. Don’t you think the fear of being shot would make for better drivers?

As an officer of the law I have to suggest screaming obscenities to yourself to avoid conflict. But let me tell you of a little known perk of being a police officer, if the violation some idiot makes is serious enough; you can pull them over in your own car (if you are in uniform) and give them a ticket. There is a law however in Indiana that will not allow an officer to pull someone over if he or she is not either in uniform or in a marked police car. So when I am out of uniform in my own car, I like to scream obsceneties to myself.

The ocean of liquor, I drank to forget her, is gonna kill me, but I’ll drink till then.- George Jones Still Doin Time

Boris B
Member posted 11-06-1999 06:09 PM

Are you in England?

Boris B
Member posted 11-06-1999 06:09 PM

Are you in England?

I use my emergency brake button as a lazer gun…with noises and all. Call me silly, but it never hurts the other driver, they don’t know I am secretly shooting them with the powerful lazer at my side and it doesn’t provoke them. Good thing they don’t make James Bond type vehicles, road rage would be the answer to the world’s over population, haha.

Then, I get a giggle out of it because I am a thirty-one year old women acting like a little kid.

(be careful not to accidentally pull up on the e-brake though, you could cause a serious accident)

“Driving can make people weird. One book calls it ‘dinosaur brain’; higher thought and
socialization is shortcircuited by pure impluse. Issues of power and territory and aggression revert human back a few eons.”

This is SO true! When I’m behind the wheel, I have absolutely zero patience for overly-slow drivers or for the two minutes it takes for the car ahead of me to finally move when the light turns green a block ahead. I sputter and curse (“Green light, you bloody jackass!”), and I can practically feel my blood pressure rise. (^; But outside the car I have more than adequate patience. When I’m waiting for the train – in the very same commute as I was screaming at other drivers (and I’m not usually in a hurry: if I get to work late, my boss doesn’t care as long as I stay late by the same amount) – delays rarely make me fidgety and even more rarely make me angry. Ten minutes seem like five on the train station platform, but thirty seconds seems like five minutes behind the wheel.

John, you remind me of that disney cartoon I saw. Goofy walking from the front door to the car was a perfect angel, avoided stepping on an ant. Once behind the wheel, he became a different person entirely… Above all, I think it was Disney telling us to be responsible drivers and not drive drunk (I still remember the bit where it showed a thought going from his bran to his foot to hit the break, it went real slow).

As a certified Hot-Headed-Youth-Who-Thinks-He’s-Invincible I think it’s appropriate any time you want. However, it’s not the most effective way of dealing with people.

When people start drifting in to my lane I like drive towards them so suddenly our cars are 1 inch apart and they get scared and jerk the wheel in the opposite direction.

If people are blocking my way while doing something illegal/stupid like turning left where it’s prohibited I like to pretend I don’t notice them and swerve or lock the wheels at the last second. This is great for middle aged men driving Mercedes’ because they know I’m younger and stronger than them so they can’t resort to violence and I had right of way so they can’t call the cops.

When people get angry at me and start yelling I like give 'em a big smile and a thumbs up to let them know that I don’t care. That pisses them off even more.

My car is just about ready to junk and we have no-fault insurance here… Driving is a great stress reliever sometimes.

Konrad, as funny as that sounds and as much as I’m tempted to do that, I value my life too much.


Just for your information, several years ago a “middle aged man” and a teen of 17 or 18 got into a serious fight that lead to the teens death…all over a traffic dispute. Probably something that was really stupid to begin with, but the two got out of the car and threatened one another I think…I am not sure about the situation, however never doubt the old fart in the Mercedes.

If you doubt the altercation, (spelling?) please talk to anyone located in the Colorado Springs area and you will know that teens are not immune to middle aged men pulling a gun on a teen.

I don’t agree that he did that, but the kid should have kept his damn mouth and possible finger out of the situation. The kid was a good kid by news reports, but unfortunately he died over a lame ass traffic issue.

Time for you to learn my method of handling traffic problems…shoot them with your “lazer e-brake” you will live longer and probably avoid a middle-aged man pulling a gun on you because his wife was a freaking bitch that morning.

Just something to think about, other drivers always think THEY are right, you can’t guarantee that they will understand that.

opinion - a belief held often without positive knowledge or proof.

oppress - to burden harshly, unjustly, or tyrannically.

don’t oppress my ability to have an opinion

The hell with a finger, LOCK and LOAD!