Raven fans tailgate (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

“Always let your conscious be your guide” – But if that fails, then just follow these 10 essential road rules for safer and happier football games in Baltimore.

  1. Thou shall arrive to the M&T Bank Stadium 4-5 hours prior to kickoff – If beating the bumper-to-bumper traffic that starts approximately two hours before game time isn’t reward enough, early-bird tailgaters will also benefit from the best parking spots, extended feasting and cornhole tournaments.
  2. Thou shall not tailgate thy neighbor’s car – While decorating your neighbor’s car in full Ravens memorabilia prior to the game is encouraged, following too close to the car in front of you is guaranteed trouble. Always leave extra space for the car in front of you, especially when coming off I-95 into the downtown area. This is a spot where sudden stops, turns and general chaos can be expected as drivers change their minds last minute or are often confused on where to go. Remember, the majority of rear-end collisions can be avoided with a little extra patience and bumper room.
  3. Thou shall abstain when behind the wheel – This rule includes anything that takes your eyes off the road from pre-game snacks to excessive partying. In fact, distracted-driving crashes can be just as fatal as drunk driving. Baltimore County Police are committed to strictly enforcing driving laws from DUIs to aggressive driving for the safety of the fans. Stay alert when entering and leaving the stadium due to the higher number of pedestrians who are not only unpredictable but don’t have to obey the same “Rules of the Road.”
  4. Thou shall keep Game Day holy – Six days of labor in exchange for one day of fun; sure we’ve earned it. Yet in the spirited competition of good football, it is natural that tensions may get heated even with all the amusement around. At the end of the day, we are all devoted fans hoping for the best of events. So no matter the color of your jersey, don’t forget that every fan is entitled to safely enjoy the game from the road to the seats and back again.
  5. Thou shall honor parking lines and traffic signs – Obeying the boundaries of parking lines is a tailgating 101 essential. Unless you’re in a camper or RV and paying for two spots, every car must park within the lines of a single spot. Additionally, watch out for “Do Not Enter” signs and one-way streets that tend to be overlooked in the heat of traffic. Baltimore is one of the many cities steadily increasing use of red light and speeding cameras so light-footed driving is highly recommended.
  6. Thou shall be more attentive and friendly – Just as smiles are contagious, aggressive behavior can quickly take a deadly turn. Staying alert to pedestrians and other drivers, taking your time and keeping a positive attitude will make the game more enjoyable for all.
  7. Thou shall not steal thy neighbor’s parking spot – Truly one of the strongest tailgating temptations, cutting in line to gain a locational advantage is a big no-no. Baltimore has over 33,000 parking spots available for games so every fan can rest assured. (Related: Tailgate Parking Tips For M&T Bank Stadium)
  8. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s parking spot – Just like any football game, you win some and you lose some. Don’t let missing out on a great tailgating spot get you down. There’s always another game and another chance to arrive early enough to gain access to those coveted spots.
  9. Thou shall not let thy neighbor drive drunk – Maryland is one of the stricter states when it comes to testing blood alcohol levels. DUIs are issued as low as .04 BAC (blood alcohol concentration). Furthermore, if you’re under the age of 21 and your BAC level is .02 or higher, your license may be suspended or revoked in addition to facing a fine and/or arrest. During pre-game, every carload should designate a P.A.S.S. (person assigned to stay sober) to ensure the well-being of all.
  10. Thou shall not lose thy vehicle – If this hasn’t happened to you yet, then congratulations on following this cardinal rule. Before leaving your vehicle for the game, memorize (or jot down) parking lot numbers and take a good look at the surroundings. This will save precious time and wits when it comes time to leave.
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Happy Tailgating!

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Keri Ann Beazell is a Baltimore writer following the latest developments in arts and culture, natural wonders, lifestyle and pets. She enjoys promoting thought-provoking discussions, education, new ideas and smiles among readers. Follow her on Twitter at @KtBlue16 and online at Examiner.com