Telltale signs that you’re a responsible driver

Updated Jan 30, 2021 | Same topic: Let's Drive Smart!

It’s not all about flexing that driver’s license in your wallet.

The driver’s license may not be a free pass for recklessness on the road, but it isn’t meant to shackle you to sainthood, either. You’re always free to acknowledge your feelings when another car unceremoniously cuts you off, but keep in mind that resisting the urge to retaliate is also in your best interests.

Hands on steering wheel

Every second you spend behind the wheel is a privilege that must be earned

Driving for many motorists means striking that delicate balance between taking the high road and being human after all. For all the effort you exerted just to get a driver’s license (assuming you acquired it through legal means), it takes even more work to keep it by maintaining a spotless driving record.

Then again, being a responsible driver is more than just someone who happens to hold a valid driving license. Here are a few points to consider.

Having a long fuse

For the most part, motorists rely on a set of fundamental knowledge acquired when they were learning the whats, hows, and whys of driving. Whether you drive a sedan or an SUV, shifting gears through stick or slushbox, the same basic principles apply. 

Angry driver

It's normal to be upset, but avoid acting on impulse

However, not everyone drives on the same mental wavelength, and as a responsible driver, you understand that not everything will go your way. Once your car reaches a public road, anything can happen, such as a car swerving into your lane without so much as a turn signal.

It’s normal to be irritated and annoyed at the unexpected things, but acting out in response is hardly going to help. You’re a responsible driver when you anticipate that others can and will make mistakes (deliberately or otherwise), and you ask yourself if another road user’s momentary lapse in judgement is going to matter minutes or hours from now.

If the answer is “No”, shrug it off and move on, because you know there are more important things to expend your energy on.

>>> Related: This is how you can prevent aggressive driving and road rage

Being considerate of your passengers

Sure, sitting in the cockpit is an opportunity to flex your mad driving skills, and show just how fortunate your passengers are to be traveling in your presence. But it’s not always about you. Above everything else, you hold their lives in your hands just as sure as you’re holding the wheel.

Driver with passenger

Passengers entrust you with keeping them safe on the journey

You’re a responsible driver when you prioritize the well-being of your passengers over your own ego, even if it means foregoing some of the thrills.

Treat driving as a dance with smooth and fluid movements, no jackrabbit starts and sudden stops. Believe it or not, the goal is for your driving style to be as generic and unremarkable as possible – safe, predictable, and gets everyone to their destination in one piece.

We’ll even venture to say that the most flattering compliment you’ll get as a driver is when your passengers manage to fall asleep when you’re behind the wheel, especially on long drives. This means that other people find no cause for concern with your driving, and are willing to trust you with their lives. 

Following traffic rules even at night

Daylight makes it easy to see which drivers follow traffic laws (and which ones openly flout them). But what about when the sun goes down and the midnight hours set in? Not a few drivers have a tendency to run red lights when speeding through an empty intersection in the dead of night.


Night driving is no excuse to stop following traffic laws

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You’re a responsible driver when you display integrity at all times. You know what’s allowed and what’s not, even without a traffic enforcer or CCTV camera watching your every movement, whatever the time is.

When you practice it often enough, it becomes a healthy habit to cultivate, which sets you apart from other drivers who follow the law only at times when they know they’ll be caught.

Religiously maintaining your car

Of course, all these wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have your car to begin with, and the responsible driver makes sure that the vehicle is always up to the task. You don’t even have to wait for the next registration renewal to check for problems with your ride.  

Man fixing car

It's not about having the flashiest car, but the most roadworthy

>>> Related: Preventative maintenance 101: Make sure you know it all

Whether it’s a busted exterior light, worn-out tires, underbody leaks, or unusual sounds and smells, you take the duty of promptly addressing these issues very seriously. You could be driving the cheapest model in the market, but making sure it runs properly is something you owe not just to yourself but for anyone else you share the road with.

More helpful driving guides at

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman and has been writing professionally since 1999. He has written episodes for CNN Philippines' motoring show Drive, and has worked on corporate projects for MG Philippines and Pilipinas Shell. Aside from being’s Content Lead, he also writes content for numerous car dealerships in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Maserati, among others.


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