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How to drive like a Gentleman, part 2

Steve Whitaker 22nd May 2013
by Steve Whitaker

How to drive like a Gentleman, part 2, in which Quentin Cholmondley_Silverstone take's a more detailed look at gentlemanly conduct on the road, granted, is long overdue. However, as the saying goes, “better late than never”.

Our guide reads like a courteous version of the Highway Code: being a gentleman behind the wheel not only makes driving less dangerous for everyone, it also makes what can be a chore at least a little more pleasant.

On the motorway

Don’t drive slowly in the middle or outside lanes.

This is one of those indiscretions bound to increase every gentleman’s blood pressure. The middle and outside lanes are for overtaking. It’s as simple as that. Driving slowly in the outside lanes shows an absolute lack of civility and is dashed bad form.

Maintain a consistent speed. One thing outside lane putterers will do to add insult to injury is to accelerate once someone behind them gives up and tries to pass on the left. Then a little while later they’ll slow down again: Dashed inconsiderate!

Do the zip merge.

When you’re driving on a dual carriageway or motorway and see a sign saying, “Lane closed ahead,” instructing you to merge, what do you do? Probably start immediately getting over to the lane that will remain open. You’re a gentleman – you plan ahead! Then, when that lane starts backing up, you curse at the dashed blackguard (pronounced: “blaggard”, for the uninitiated!) who speeds past in the open lane right up to the last second. “That scoundrel!” you mutter. “I hope no one lets him in, damn his eyes!”

Ah, but here’s the twist. That scoundrel is actually doing it right!

The safest, most effective way to merge when a lane ends on the highway is the “zip merge”. Everyone uses both lanes of traffic until they reach the cut-off point, at which time they take turns merging. This reduces congestion and traffic back-up by as much as 40%. Next time you see someone driving up to the merge point, give them a jaunty wave and shout, “Huzzah! Carry on good sir!”

On the roads

Don’t block car park entrances/exits.

When you’re approaching traffic lights, try not to stop in front of car park exits and entrances. If a fellow driver is trying to turn out of one, they’ll be grateful for the space you leave that allows them to move and will act accordingly.

Let people into traffic when appropriate.

In addition to letting people out of a car park when you’re coming to a stop, it is gentlemanly to let someone out in front of you when the traffic starts moving again. But just let one in; no gentleman likes to be seen as a soft touch!

Don’t forget the thank you wave!

If someone is kind enough to let you out of your junction or car park, don’t forget the “thank you” wave! Not giving a wave is certainly not gentlemanly conduct.

Don’t use your mobile phone.

Don’t do it. It has caused many a fatality. It’s also illegal and will get you three points on your licence and a £1000 fine. Many of us have spent half our lives with a mobile phone and half without, I can remember a time when you didn’t have to be in touch with people while you were driving. You still don’t.

Don’t daydream at the lights.

On a related note, don’t zone out at a red light, thinking about how you might look in the latest Kahn Design vehicle. Be ready to go when the light turns green.

Don’t “block the box.”

The box is the middle of the junction. People block it when the congested traffic in their lane is moving slowly through a junction on a green light, and when it turns red, their car becomes stranded at the centre of the junction with no room to move. Gridlock results. Don’t try to squeeze through when you’re probably not going to make it all the way. Sometimes you just have to take it like a man and wait for the next green light.

Pull over for a funeral procession.

It doesn’t take that long and it shows respect for the deceased and the bereaved. You can recognize a funeral procession as a line of cars, often led by a hearse. The idea here is to keep the line together, without other cars getting in-between. Obviously safety is always a top concern – if there’s not somewhere to pull into, don’t do it. But do it when you can. I won’t recommend that you doff your hat in respect, since no true gentleman would ever be wearing a hat whilst operating a motor vehicle.

To read part one of this feature, click here.

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