City Driving Manners

Cissy Chatter ~ Penny PrattleIn these crazy days of road rage and cellular phones, I thought it might be nice to bring you some advice from the esteemed Emily Post, all the way from 1945. I guess it is comforting to know that some things never change.

1945: City Driving Manners

When driving in the city, remember that discourtesy to pedestrians can turn out to be manslaughter. Don’t rush traffic lights. A gentlemen will no more “cheat the lights” than cheat at cards. Don’t fail, at a crossing where the lights have turned against you, to stop far enough back to be sure that you are not blocking the proper path of pedestrians crossing the street. Don’t, if you possibly can help it, run through puddles and splash pedestrians or other cars. Don’t almost run over someone who is trying to signal a bus or a trolley car when a little consideration requires only a few seconds. . . .

We are all made nervous by the driver who keeps looking out all the time, expatiating on the view and paying no attention to what is happening on the road. Or the one who turns around to talk to those on the back seat (who can’t hear what he says because they are so busy praying that the car will stay on the road). Or the one who carelessly lets go of the wheel while he lights a cigarette or screws the windshield up or down, meanwhile letting his car meander toward the ditch or else cut over toward the wrong side of the road.

Another bad-mannered driver is the one in a hurry. Among the thousands of motor accidents listed on the police blotters, at least half are said to be made by people who have not learned to discipline themselves to be on time. The driver, suddenly becoming conscious that he should have left home earlier, flings his good driving manners to the wind, starts weaving in and out of lines, clipping red lights, pushing his way, and taking chances which he would never take if he were not in a hurry!

Certain Bad Manners of Women Drivers

There are, of course, thousands of women drivers who are on every count first-class, but there are certain others who deserve all the criticism that can be given them. Among the worst of these should be put the window-shopper ~ she who crawls along a crowded thoroughfare with her gaze fastened upon the store windows. In a taxi, the other day, an army pilot followed close behind one of these for about twenty blocks. His taxi driver pointed her out. Said he, “Those window-shoppers are the worst we come up against! Why they don’t get killed is God’s mercy; they could never be saved merely by man. When I look ahead and see a woman driving her car with her head turned profile, I give her the widest berth I can.”

A not unfamiliar sight, in the smaller towns, are the stop-to-talkers who park by side and hold long conversations while other cars wait or maneuver their way past the blockade as best they can. There is no reason why Cissy Chatter may not talk to Penny Prattle as long as she chooses, but one of them must draw over close to the curb and wait. The other must park her car in a proper place and then come back to the first car and either stand on the sidewalk or get into the car.

Source: Post, Emily. Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company,1945.
~ pp. 584-85 ~