What is meant by "the rule of the road"?

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The literal meaning of "the rule of the road" (often referred to in its plural "the rules of the road") entails all of the precautionary methods one must put in place to ensure that one is driving defensively rather than offensively. It is the set of mandates imposed upon operators...

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The literal meaning of "the rule of the road" (often referred to in its plural "the rules of the road") entails all of the precautionary methods one must put in place to ensure that one is driving defensively rather than offensively. It is the set of mandates imposed upon operators of any motorized vehicle meant to safeguard the safety and security of everyone on the road. 

From a figurative point of view, the "rules of the road" hold the significance of being a higher order paradigm which can be applied to anything. For instance, should we apply "rules of the road" to our everyday life, with or without vehicles, a lot of problems can be avoided.  The truth is, however, that we do put "rules of the road" into our everyday activities: we have stop lights in traffic that tell us where to proceed to drive safely. There are signs with information in major places asking us not to do certain things:  not throw trash on the ground, to please recyle plastics, to please pick up after our pets if walking outside, etc. 

Other rules that benefit everyone include rules for safety in pools, in public parks, for public facilities (outside bathrooms), and even during events and activities which warn us from not bringing glass containers, or weapons, or any other object which may potentially harm others when not used properly. 

The reason why the name "rules of the road" has "stuck" is because humans, particularly adults, DO need to be re-directed consistently in order to, finally, change a behavior. Schools and teachers do this when we are children. However, we assume that being adults makes us all mature and knowledgeable. That is absolutely not the case, sadly but true. Hence, the regulations placed in key places which beg for adults to follow the proper ways of behavior, etiquette, and even ethical behavior, become "the rules of the road" to life, rather than just for the purpose of driving properly. 

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