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One Essential Road Trip Tip From Chivalrous Drivers

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This fall, BDG Studios is partnering with VW to talk about our favorite Unwritten Rules Of The Road. From demonstrating an appropriate zipper merge to giving a friendly wave of recognition when a driver lets you cut in ahead of them, these rules (not laws) of the road are aimed at ensuring that all drivers make it to their scheduled destinations as safely and as harmoniously as humanly possible.

As a responsible driver and father, safety is your number-one concern when behind the wheel—but it doesn’t have to be your only one.

That’s because the hours spent in the family car over the course of a childhood present an opportunity for parents who want to model and teach their kids courtesy through how they drive, treat other drivers, and approach the communal, interdependent act of driving alongside fellow citizens. And when you think about driving as a teaching opportunity, one of the most courteous things you can do as a driver—and the best way to teach your kids a lesson about courtesy—is to master the art of being passed.

An immature, impatient driver might speed up to avoid letting another car get by them, violating traffic laws, increasing braking distance, and generally imperiling not just the people in their car but those in the surrounding vehicles as well. Not great! Knowing how to be passed without feeling or acting this way is necessary to be a truly safe, courteous driver and parent. Here’s what you need to know.

Remember, it’s not a race.

Kids are by nature impatient, and part of growing up is learning to accept delayed gratification. Not needing to speed past every car on the road, and allowing those who do to do so safely, is a solid way to model patience. You can even use this moment to teach your kids about passing on the left, cruising on the right. If you’re lucky, they’ll stop asking “Are we there yet?” from the backseat every 15 minutes.

Pass like you’d want to be passed.

When you do want to pass a slower driver, it’s important to do it the right way for safety’s and courtesy’s sake. That means doing so only in a passing zone, using your turn signals correctly, and providing a wide berth to the car(s) that you’re getting in front of. It’s a simple distillation of the golden rule, and what more important lesson is there for kids to learn?

Don’t get mad.

You can do everything physically correct, but if you yell at drivers who pass you it can undercut the potentially positive lessons your kids might learn from your chivalry. Even if you’re not thrilled with the actions of other drivers, expressing it as disappointment instead of anger is a good way to model the kind of emotional control that’s a hallmark of being a well-adjusted person.

Bring it back to sharing.

The kids of today are the drivers of tomorrow, so explaining the rules of passing and being passed when you’re on the road together isn’t a bad idea. And while the prep for driver’s ed might be useful in the future, articulating the importance of sharing in a setting that’s uniquely dependent on sharing and trusting strangers is a lesson that’s immediately relevant to kids’ lives.

Have your own Unwritten Rules of the Road? Share your favorite driving standards and tag #VWUnwrittenRules to make the world a more pleasant place to drive.

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