THE BLOG

Memorial Day Road Trip Travel Etiquette

05/19/2014 05:38 pm ET | Updated Jul 19, 2014
  • Diane Gottsman Etiquette expert and modern manners authority; Owner, The Protocol School of Texas
Blend Images - John Lund via Getty Images

Summer travel season is approaching, and many of us will take to the highways this Memorial Day. While family road trips can be a lot of fun, they also can lead to some unpleasant driving experiences. A U.S. driving survey from Safeco Insurance shows that four in five drivers are negatively impacted by others' driving behaviors. The study reveals:

  • Only 36 percent of respondents believe their own driving is aggressive.
  • 85 percent describe others' driving as aggressive.
  • 82 percent reported they experience negative feelings because of how others drive.
Here are a few rules of the road designed to get you to your destination as safely, peacefully and happily as possible:

  1. Put down the phone. Recent AT&T surveys found that texting while driving is prominent among both teenagers and business commuters. Avoid texting or talking on the phone as a rule. Even a quick glance at a notification can cost you your life. Also, remember as you travel to other cities and states that local laws on texting and phone use may vary. Avoid the issue altogether by taking the "It Can Wait" pledge.
  2. Make a promise to stay cool behind the wheel. If you notice your passengers cringing in fear or slamming their feet on imaginary brakes, chances are you are driving aggressively. Avoid cutting off other drivers, driving too closely to the car in front of you, speeding or making frequent lane changes. Whatever small time advantages you may gain by maneuvering through traffic are minimal and simply not worth the risk. Stay calm and drive on.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time. Don't count on hitting every green light to be on time to your destination. You will enjoy the drive much more if you are not in a panic about being late. If you are late, don't try to make up time on the road by speeding or driving unsafely.
  4. Be courteous to your passengers. When someone says they need to use the restroom, believe them. Stop at the next opportunity.
  5. Don't skimp on snacks and drinks. On long trips, this is key to an enjoyable ride. Bring an ample supply of car-friendly snacks and drinks for everyone. Wash and pre-slice fruits and veggies for a healthy treat, tucked away in a travel cooler. Other favorites can be kept at room temperature, like crackers, trail mix and pretzels.
  6. Support your driver. Don't expect one person to do all the driving if other passengers can share the duties. Also, don't put in ear buds and zone out; be able to hear your driver and be available if they need something or want to visit. Defer to the driver on the temperature controls; on a long road trip, the driver needs to stay comfortable and alert.
  7. No backseat driving. Critiquing the driver's performance is the most direct route to an undesirable trip. If there is imminent danger or a wrong turn, point it out in as courteous a way as possible. Otherwise, give the driver credit for knowing what he or she is doing. If there's no improvement, kindly offer to take a turn driving.
  8. Remember that getting there safely is the goal. If you are tired, let someone else do some driving. Respect your exhaustion. Never risk the safety of yourselves and those around you to try to get to your vacation spot a little earlier. It's just not worth the risk.
  9. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. There can be a lot of things competing for your attention on a road trip, but don't get distracted by the radio, the GPS device or the text messages coming in on your phone. It only takes a second of inattentiveness for an accident to happen.
  10. Enjoy the ride. Don't focus on making good time, but on having a good time. Relax. Enjoy the people you are with. Remember that you are on vacation.
"Drive it Forward Fridays," or #DIFF (Safeco Insurance), encourages drivers to take a pledge to adopt positive driving behavior and curtail aggressive mobile habits. Find a campaign to support, or make your own commitment to drive safe and enjoy the ride this Memorial Day.

If you will be traveling by air, you may also like Airplane Etiquette: 10 Tips to a Mannerly Flight. For more etiquette tips, visit Diane's blog, connect with her here on the Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.