For the Driver:
You are not a Divine Being.
Everyone on the road does not have to do what you expect them to do. Yes, there are certain manners in which drivers should behave, universal expressions of decency that we should all embrace and support. However, mental telepathy is not recognized as a legal means of expression or communication. Not everyone on the roadways is an instinctual empath, with glowing crystals aligned on their dashboard so they can receive pulses from the astral plane that will alert them to what their fellow road companions are about to do, legal or otherwise.
There are certain objectives one should meet if one has any desire to be considered a respectable driver. First and foremost, one should strive to not be a complete asshole whilst operating a land-craft. Adherence to this precept of non-assholeness generally solves most problems and negates the need for eventual intervention and prosecution by civic authorities. Beyond that fundamental benchmark of decency, there are additional options one should reflect upon when reviewing their karmic status in the universe.
Use your turn signal/indicators/flashers/primitive candles in a pleasing way.
This section should not cause concern if all you want to do is stay in your current lane until the end of time. However, should the spirits speak to you in a compelling manner that cannot be ignored (perhaps you have a sudden need to inspect the adult bookstore that just whipped by in your periphery), then you should utilize those buttons or flippers right there on your steering column to alert your neighbors of the impending game change.
Do not suddenly dart across three lanes of traffic, without any warning, and then expect everyone to compose a sonnet to the goodness of your existence. There will be no songs of praise and worship, but there might be honking and demonstrative hand gestures alerting you to the fact that your approval rating is lower than Donald Trump, and that’s a trough that hasn’t been seen in America since the Pilgrims slammed into that rock in Plymouth. (Young Puritan: “Are we there yet?” Older Puritan: “Actually, yes. But whatever you do, don’t collude with the Russians.”)
Everyone on the planet does not need to hear your Spotify Playlist.
If your car is sonically vibrating from the enhanced bass of the latest song from a band that will be lost to obscurity in three days, your priorities are clearly not in order. Turn the radio down, turn your car around, and go back home so you can sue your parents for not raising you in a responsible manner. You’ll still be guilty of worthlessness, because we all own our choices, but somebody grew the tree that you didn’t fall far from, and every good farmer knows you’ve got to take care of the root rot or the whole crop will turn on you.
For the Passenger in the Front Seat:
Do not act as if you know more than the driver, even if you do.
It’s not your car. And even if it is, the mere fact that you are not in the Captain Kirk seat means that you have failed in the leadership role and you are now relegated to second-in-command, if even that. You are allowed to make pleasantly-presented suggestions concerning route decisions, but if you become overly-demonstrative about the travelogue choices then you are subject to ejection, quickly replaced by Lieutenant Uhura, who is skilled at navigating international communications, and you will never get primo seating again.
Unless we’re talking about Google Maps.
In this scenario, wherein someone needs to be checking the app to see where the heavy-red lines appear on the traffic network, you should be totally on point. The driver should not be dicking with his phone, despite many of them doing so with abandon (see above reference wherein drivers misperceive their god-like status). You should not wait to be asked to check the app. You should be all over that app at the first hint of traffic malfeasance, scrolling diligently to find the clearest route to the methadone clinic.
That glovebox does not have your name on it.
Don’t go messing around in there unless you are requested to do so, sent on a mission for a napkin or an antacid tablet after lunch at Uncle Bucky’s Burrito Bar. None of the clutter in the little concave is any concern of yours, especially if it involves surprisingly-small condoms or a greasy pair of handcuffs. It’s just like the nightstand in your parents’ bedroom. Do not ever open that unless you want your world to change.
Do not screw with the temperature settings.
It doesn’t matter if you are too cold or too hot. Your comfort is of no concern. It is imperative that the driver of the vehicle finds a happy place. Otherwise, turn signals might not get used and everybody might end up in a Turkish prison
The armrest between the front seats only has room for one ego.
This is not the Oklahoma Land Rush where, if you are the first to claim it, you get 640 acres and a free mule. You have no stake in this situation. Cede all desires to the driver and let him or her set the terms of the negotiation. Many traffic violations are the result of somebody’s elbow being where it shouldn’t be. Don’t be that elbow.
For the Passenger on the Left Side of the Back Seat:
If you kick the back of the driver’s commandant chair more than once, you will be thrown to the wolves without any regard for your welfare. Once is understandable, what with the new surroundings and the excitement of the adventure and whatnot. Twice is unforgivable, so, unless you speak Lupine, don’t take the chance.
For the Passenger in the Middle of the Back Seat:
The court will grant you some leniency, in that you apparently lost the back-seat lotto and ended up with the center position that nobody wants. Still, once ensconced, one prerogative becomes foremost: Do not block the rear-view mirror. The driver might try to be polite and indicate that the vision quest is not affected. But let’s be real. Your ginormous head, no matter how cutely coiffed, is a survival-affecting roadblock. The best thing you can do is lean forward in a semi-prone position and stay there until you’ve arrived at Granny Mae’s Bait-Shack and RV trailer park so you can all load up on scratch-offs and a vat or two of moonshine.
For the Passenger on the Right Side of the Back Seat:
Don’t you dare think of touching any of the fancy buttons on your door. Yes, they are right there, wanton and tempting, but any change in atmosphere that you might trigger by rolling down your window or screwing with the lock settings will only lead to severe accusations and potential custody battles. It’s not worth it. Just stare out the window and yearn for eventual release.
For the Urchin Offspring Forced to Reside in That Far-Back Cargo Space Just Because They Are Small, Even Though Said Space Does Not Proffer Actual Seating or Comfort:
It gets better. Okay, that’s a lie. But such is the way of life. It’s best that you learn now how everything we dream about all comes down to who is driving and who plots the journey. Make sure you are eventually at least one of those people.