Many people know these rules because they seem to be common sense. However, a small amount of the human population that can drive has no common sense, and for them I offer this list of unwritten but necessary driving rules.
  • On a two lane highway, the right lane is for you slow people. The left is the passing lane. If you're on a stroll stick to the right. And if you are in the left lane and someone is behind you, get your butt over! Many people seem to enjoy switching to the left lane and then cruising at the exact same speed as the car right next to them in the right lane, creating a "stupid driver barrier".
  • In some instances however, a person in the left lane is genuinely trying to pass the car on the right. You see, every so often one of you slowpokes in the right lane realize you're not going as fast as you'd like the instant someone tries to pass you. DO NOT speed up! This is not a drag strip, where you must close the gap. It was your own fault for going so slow, let the guy pass you, unless you'd like to make a barrier for any cars behind the two of you.
  • In 3+ lane highways, the middle lane is for you slowpokes. The left is for passing again. The right is for exiting, entering and lost people. Why does it seem there are so many people in this lane. If you're just cruisin', get in the middle lane. Some of us actually need to get over to that exit. I'd rather not perform a stunt maneuver to do so.


Disclaimer: This is for those of you in the U.S. and any other country that follows U.S standards.

  • The left lane is only for passing on the Interstate. When driving on regular city roads, the left lane is for turning left. If you know you'll need to make a turn, get in the proper lane as far ahead as possible and stay there. This cuts down on lane changes, making your chances of living to a ripe old age much higher.
  • The speed limit is the speed limit. If the pretty little sign says "45" this means you should go no more than 47.5 and not less than 42.5. You should not go 55, nor 65, nor 120. You are not exempt from traffic laws, no matter what your jack-ass hot-shot jock nature tells you. Furthermore, you are not exempt from laws of physics. People will say, "No! It's the speed relative to what everyone else is going!" This is true. 5 mpH difference from the flow of traffic is dangerous. But, y'know what? That's what the speed limit is for. 45 is a reference point from which you should not deviate more than 2.5 mpH above or below. Plus, traffic engineers partly determine the speed limit according to things like the curves in the road (which you can only take safely at certain speeds) and congestion (which tends to limit the safe speed you can travel at). Also, remember that the traffic light network is set up with people going a certain speed in mind. And not getting stopped at lights is far more significant in making good time than high speed.
  • Don't go slow, either. If you go too slowly, the aforementioned "jack-ass hot-shot jocks" will try to pass you with great velocity and reckless abandon, very likely causing a severe accident. If you can't go the speed limit for some reason (you're very old and don't trust your reaction times, you're driving a moped, whatever) then don't drive.
  • Surprising as it may seem, you are neither invincible nor are you a great driver with incredible control and skill. Doing stupid things to demonstrate your imagined skill is going to get someone killed (possibly you).
  • When you see an accident, fire, hostage situation, or anything else interesting, do not slow down to watch as you go by. If it's really worth watching, it will be on the 11:00 news; you can set your VCR to tape it.
  • Remember, the purpose of driving is to get from point A to point B. This is the one and only purpose of driving. This rules out: talking on the phone, applying makeup, reading, eating, having sex, or any other thing you might think of doing. You can do all of these things and more when you get to your destination.
  • OK, I guess I should add to this, as I've had my share of encounters with bad drivers.

    • First, I would like you to familiarize yourself with a feature of your car that seems to be alien to many drivers. Walk around your car. On all four corners, you will see yellow lights. (The rear ones may be red for some cars.) These are called (guess what?) turn signals. And on the left side of your steering wheel, there is a small lever that controls them. You use them to signal before making a turn. That wasn't hard, was it? Yet so many people forget...
    • If you drive in the rightmost lane on the freeway, expect people to be merging in. They will drive more slowly than you. Don't hit them. And don't be an asshole, either.
    • If you want to talk on your cell phone while driving, fine. But driving is your main priority. It is not a good idea to take both hands from the steering wheel and use one to hold the phone to your ear and the other to gesticulate as if the person you're talking to is right there. Also, slowing down to 35 on the freeway because you want to focus on the important call is frowned upon.
    • This sounds like a truism because it's written in all DMV driving booklets, but: leave enough space on all sides of your vehicle and monitor your surroundings. This is the best way to avoid accidents (and you can use your mirrors to see police cars pacing you, if you're driving above the speed limit)
    • Do not slow down at an accident scene. Do not stop your car in the middle lane of the freeway to watch or to offer help, especially if the emergency personnel has arrived already.
    • The way I interpret the speed limit is: the speed you should be able to drive safely in good weather and traffic condtions on that particular highway. If you can't for any reason, choose another route.
    • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ever. Even though you feel you're safe. Please.

    More as I think of them. You only learn to swear after you learn to drive.

    Unwritten rules for driving in Massachusetts:

    1. Everyone else is an idiot. Their entire goal in life is to make your life miserable. They will do this by cutting you off, thwarting lane changes, tailgating, blocking traffic, slowing to a crawl for accidents, and throwing you all manner of obscene jestures when you disturb them by being alive. The goal of driving on Massachusetts roads is to prove that those around you are idiots, while avoiding that label yourself. The remaining rules will help you to realize this goal

    2. Those yellow lights you affectionately call "turn signals" are reffered to as "idiot signals" in Mass. They signal that you would like drivers behind you in the other lane to speed up and cut off your attempted lane change. This is because you are an idiot. Note that if you actually manage to accomplish a lane change under these circumstances, you may be greeted by a "one-finger salute" from the driver behind you. Don't worry; this is a sign of affection, and respect for your driving acumen. Reply with a friendly wave to acknowlege the fact that the driver behind you is an idiot.

    3. Many roads in this great state are marked with signs denoting a speed limit. For example, on Route 3 these signs say you should travel no more than 55 miles per hour (MPH). The actual speed limit on Route 3 is in fact 75 Mph. This means that you must travel at least 75 mph, lest you be labeled an idiot. Those little signs saying 55 are "Posted Speed Limits" (PSL's). PSL's are just guidelines. Guidelines are made -and followed- by idiots.

    4. When travelling at 75 mph, the default distance between cars should be 1/4 car length. Decrease this distance for inclement weather. 1/5 car length for rain, 1/6 for ice, and 1/8 in a good ol' winter Nor'Easter. Any further apart and you are just begging for some one to cut you off. This make you an idiot.

    5. If, when in the left lane, you do not move as fast as the people behind you, they are legally bound to drive 6 inches or less from your bumper -- it's a state law. You are also legally bound to tap your breaks and/or slow down to at least 15MPH below the PSL. Failure to do so labels you legally as an idiot.

    6. If, when being tailgated, the person attempts to pass you, you should match their speed as exactly as possible. This not only prevents them from passing you, it prevents all the other idiots behind you from passing you. Failure to do so will identify you as an idiot.

    7. At night, a person wishing to pass you will turn their high-beams on a drive not the prerequisite 6 inches from your bumper, but approximately 2-3 feet behind to maximize the effect of the high beam in the rearview mirror. Drivers in trucks and SUV may dispense with the latter. If you in fact actually pull off the road and wave them by, as opposed to slowing down to 5 MPH in a no-passing zone, then Congradulations! You are now officially an idiot!

    8. Anyone with a cellphone is an idiot. Possession of a cellphone in a car is a captial offense in Massachusetts, and, aside from proving that you're an idiot, it will land you in jail for life (Unfortunately, there is no death sentence in Massachusetts). There are no exceptions. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

    9. The basic rule of thumb is that, as previously stated and utterly without exception, everyone else on the road is an idiot. Everyone is out to slow you down, piss you off, and make you late for that 8 AM meeting, because, der, they're idiots.

    This message brought to you by the Massachusetts Highway Dept., the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Massachusetts State Police Force.

    My Granddad's rule that he taught to my dad (who taught me to drive) is pretty simple:

    Everyone else is an idiot, and they don't know how to drive.

    It doesn't matter how bad you are at driving, if you follow this rule you will be safe.

    Also, don't believe turn signals untill you see them actually turn. I remember following a guy on the motorway with his turnsignals indicating right for twenty minutes. In New Zealand we drive on the left, and there is never a right turn on the motorway. Mabie another rule would be "Turn your radio down so you can hear the click-click-click of your indicator".
    Understand which pedal to push when you change lanes on the highway: The right pedal is the one that lets you go to the left lane. Please do not confuse the two, as is common.

    Rule for the merge lane: This lane was made for your convenience, so that you may increase your speed to match well with highway traffic. Use it as such. Take your fear of acceleration and put it behind you for 2 seconds, OK? I used to have a VW Rabbit that ran on 3-cylinders and I managed to get up to speed. Your brakes should not be used at the end of these ramps. Stay in your lane and drive into a tree if you can't understand this.

    In larger cities, nost notably in my mind Atlanta, you start to see 10 to 14 lane highways, Most people don't realize their proper place is in this scheme, so here goes:

    10 Lane Highway:

    Lane 1 (leftmost in USA). Idiot Lane. Drive the speed limit which, as in Massachusetts, is posted as 55 but 75 is correct.

    Lane 2, Idiot Passing Lane. For passing the Idiots in the Idiot Lane. Passing on the right may be illegal, so watch for state troopers. At least once during your trip these two lanes will switch.

    Lane 3, Chaos, Idiot Passing, Heavy Speeding, and Dart-thru. While this may sound like an all-purpose lane, it's best to stay out of this lane unless you are 1) doing at least 87 mph, or 2) you need to go from one of the Idiot Lanes to an exit lane and vice versa. Also used as an Idiot Passing Passing Lane, but after passing the Idiot you must immediately cut them off to get back into the regular Idiot Passing Lane, whatever that is at that time. This is mandatory, that's what the Idiots are there for.

    Lane 4/5 Truck Lane and Merge. We've all seen these, it's the slow lane, except there are two now. One or more may be exit only lanes, in which case you'll see less trucks in them, since they have already moved into better through traffic lanes, unless they have all decided to eat, quit trucking, or have business there.

    A 12 lane highway gets an extra Chaos Lane, and once you get to 14 lanes people lose their entire sense of perspective and either speed up to 95 or slow down to 40. Every 14 lane highway I've been on has had a limousine travelling diagonal to the direction of traffic, which always reminds me of Spy Hunter.

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