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Lizzie Post’s Driving Etiquette Tips

Etiquette can be a confusing thing. And that’s especially true when it comes to driving etiquette. The horn is there for a reason, but no one wants to be that person who beeps at every little thing.

Fortunately, Lizzie Post is here to help. Lizzie is the great-great granddaughter of Emily Post, America’s original etiquette expert. She works at the Emily Post Institute, where she authors books, delivers speeches and co-hosts the Awesome Etiquette podcast. Here’s her advice on which situations merit a honk–and which don’t.

how to handle driving situations

The Situation

Honk?

What Lizzie Says

Someone is about to hit you.

Yes

"You can always beep if you feel you and your car are in danger."

You're waiting to go straight and the car in front of you is turning left.  If he would move up a little bit, you would be able to go around him.

No

"They might assume you are honking to get them to turn.  Try inching forward and moving to the right before honking."

The driver next to you is texting.

No

"It's not your job to police the road."

The light's been green for several seconds and the car in front of you hasn't moved.

Yes

"Just give one quick beep."

A driver on the other side of the road has her high beams on.

No

"Flash your lights instead."

The driver in front of you fails to use their turn signal, leading you to slam on your brakes then they make an unexpected turn.

Yes

It's OK to beep as long as you're not leaning on the horn."

The driver in front of you stops in the middle of the road to let someone out.

Maybe

"If the person gets out quickly, don't beep. If they're takin their sweet time, then it's okay to give a quick beep so long as the person isn't disabled or injured."

You see your friend walking down the street and want to beep "hi."

Yes

"It's okay to give one or two quick beeps to get their attention."

Someone throws litter out his car window.

No

"Again, you can't police the whole world. You might say something like 'Hey, I think you dropped something' or give them a dirty look."

You have kids in your car and the driver next to you is playing explicit music.

No

"Kids are going to run into this eventually, so it's best to be the parent in this situation and talk about appropriate language with them."

You notice a child one car over who does not have a seat belt on.

Yes

"Give a small honk and say something like, 'Hey, I think your child unbuckled his seatbelt.'"

The Situation

Someone is about to hit you.

Honk?

Yes

What Lizzie Says

"You can always beep if you feel you and your car are in danger."

The Situation

You're waiting to go straight and the car in front of you is turning left.  If he would move up a little bit, you would be able to go around him.

Honk?

No

What Lizzie Says

"They might assume you are honking to get them to turn.  Try inching forward and moving to the right before honking."

The Situation

The driver next to you is texting.

Honk?

No

What Lizzie Says

"It's not your job to police the road."

The Situation

The light's been green for several seconds and the car in front of you hasn't moved.

Honk?

Yes

What Lizzie Says

"Just give one quick beep."

The Situation

A driver on the other side of the road has her high beams on.

Honk?

No

What Lizzie Says

"Flash your lights instead."

The Situation

The driver in front of you fails to use their turn signal, leading you to slam on your brakes then they make an unexpected turn.

Honk?

Yes

What Lizzie Says

It's OK to beep as long as you're not leaning on the horn."

The Situation

The driver in front of you stops in the middle of the road to let someone out.

Honk?

Maybe

What Lizzie Says

"If the person gets out quickly, don't beep. If they're takin their sweet time, then it's okay to give a quick beep so long as the person isn't disabled or injured."

The Situation

You see your friend walking down the street and want to beep "hi."

Honk?

Yes

What Lizzie Says

"It's okay to give one or two quick beeps to get their attention."

The Situation

Someone throws litter out his car window.

Honk?

No

What Lizzie Says

"Again, you can't police the whole world. You might say something like 'Hey, I think you dropped something' or give them a dirty look."

The Situation

You have kids in your car and the driver next to you is playing explicit music.

Honk?

No

What Lizzie Says

"Kids are going to run into this eventually, so it's best to be the parent in this situation and talk about appropriate language with them."

The Situation

You notice a child one car over who does not have a seat belt on.

Honk?

Yes

What Lizzie Says

"Give a small honk and say something like, 'Hey, I think your child unbuckled his seatbelt.'"

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