How to Say “Thank You” Behind the Wheel

Embracing a friendlier attitude behind the wheel is the right way to go 6 photos
Photo: Geneva International Motor Show
Truck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage IncidentTruck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage IncidentTruck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage IncidentTruck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage IncidentTruck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage Incident
Road rage is quite a common activity these days, and carrying a cold weapon, be it a baseball bat, pepper spray, or even a knife is way too often the solution that some drivers turn to in order to be sure they reach their destination in one piece. Especially if they live in Russia, that is, as the avalanche of clips coming from Mother Russia and showing us the way traffic problems are solved there is entertaining and terrifying at the same time.
It goes without saying that road rage isn’t by any means the way to deal with traffic incidents, and what's even more concerning is that most people actually agree with this statement. And yet, they still end up doing awful things behind the wheel, eventually putting everybody’s life at risk. Statistics show that road rage continues to be a significant problem for authorities in way too many countries, and finding a way to deal with it more efficiently isn't by any means easy. After all, it's pretty clear that the hefty fines don't necessarily make a difference.

On the other hand, not all roads out there are filled with people ready to go bananas because you drive too slowly. Some of us still want every minute behind the wheel to be an enjoyable experience, no matter if we leave on a long journey or simply try to deal with the crazy traffic in a crowded city.

So the easiest way to combat road rage is to actually embrace a friendlier attitude. A simple thing like saying “thank you” whenever another driver makes you a favor is a great place to start, and this is precisely what we’re going to discuss today. Just imagine you're driving on a secondary street and you wish to get onto the main road, which is already full of cars waiting for the green light. Another driver sees you and is willing to let you slip in. How do you react? How do you say “thank you”?

Truck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage Incident
Photo: Reddit Screenshot/ r/IdiotsInCars u/trippme
It’s pretty clear a “thank you” gesture is just an optional response, and although some drivers may refuse to adopt it, a very aggressive driving style isn’t by any means the right answer. Not at all. As karma has proved on so many occasions, the best thing you can do is drive as friendly as possible, and one day, someone may just return the favor.

There are many ways to do this, but the method varies by country, continent, and driver. Sometimes even by car model, but sign language always comes to help, eventually making the roads out there a lot friendlier and safer for each and every one of us.

In many Eastern European countries, activating the emergency lights for a second or two, in a sign of appreciation for the good deed the other driver made for you, is a common practice. Yes, we know it, the hazard lights are there with a clear purpose, so this isn't quite the perfect solution. But given the fact that these lights are on just for a few moments, they do not harm anyone. And sometimes, it's the safest, the most effective, and the easiest way to say “thank you”.

A commonly used practice is to simply show your appreciation by waving your hand. If you drive a regular passenger car, get your left hand (or the right one if you're in the UK or Japan) outside the window and raise it. Just like a medieval salute. It's that easy, and in so many ways, it's the fastest method that doesn't bother anyone else on the road. Of course, removing one hand from the steering wheel isn't necessarily something that you should do, so just pay attention to the whole thing to make sure that a simple "thank you" doesn't become an "I'm sorry!"

On the other hand, other drivers prefer to raise the right hand sharply - the one that's on the gear stick if you are driving a manual car. This obviously implies that the driver behind you sees your gesture, which is kind of impossible if the rear window is tinted.

Raising the hand is also the way to go if you are driving a convertible or a car that has a sunroof. You can always raise your hand through the roof, just like a teenager that enjoys a hot ride. This is just another very effective way to show your gratitude, as there’s a good chance the driver behind sees you.

Truck Vs PT Cruiser Road Rage Incident
Photo: Reddit Screenshot/ r/IdiotsInCars u/trippme
In addition, there's a special driver category that says thanks by slowly moving the head down in a sign of appreciation. Women like to smile or raise their eyebrows, while men sometimes even shout “Thank you dude!” outside the window to make sure you heard them.

Being polite is not that hard. A thank you is actually just a press of a button away. Japanese drivers use the hazard lights a lot, not necessarily for emergencies, eventually trying to make their roads more peaceful and friendlier.

And in some cases, the whole thing reaches a completely new level of friendship. Occasionally, drivers are excited when someone else says thank you, so they’re trying to continue the conversation with an ad-hoc “you’re welcome” gesture.

Many people use a very short flashlight signal, but this could bother the other drivers on the road and turn back against you. So it's better to simply raise your hand or just nod your head as a sign of approval. Also, women can reply with a smile (hardly noticeable for someone who looks into the rear mirror), while men raise a few fingers from the hand holding the steering wheel in a totally dominating style.

In the end, it’s important to keep in mind that not all drivers say thank you, and this doesn’t necessarily mean they are rude. Some people are so focused on the driving action per se that they forget to do it. Others don't know how to do it. And of course, some do not want. But that's another story.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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