Learning to drive is as much about knowing the rules of the road as it is about understanding how a car can get you from A to B. In many countries, you not only have to sit a practical driving test, with an examiner sitting beside you, but you also have to pass a written test. This is to show that you understand the driving theory. For many drivers, however, these tests happened years or even decades ago. During this time, you might have picked up some bad driving habits. With that in mind, here are sixteen dangerous driving mistakes nearly everyone is guilty of making.
Letting Yourself Get Distracted
When you’re behind the wheel of a car, you must make sure that your focus rests solely on controlling the vehicle. As tempting as it may be, you shouldn’t pick up your phone, even if it rings. If you allow yourself to get distracted like this, you slow your reaction time. This means that, if a hazard were to appear up ahead, you might not have time to stop before hitting it. Those that can’t resist their smartphones should put them in their glove compartment or in the trunk.
Sitting Too Far Back
Comfort is crucial when you’re driving a car, but there is such a thing as being too comfortable. While positioning your seat far back does provide a lot of legroom, making driving more pleasant, it can be dangerous also. The further back you are seated, the less control you have over the car, resulting in a delayed reaction time. If the airbags were to deploy, this position could also cause serious injuries. You must be sitting upright at all times, with your shoulders on the backrest.
Wearing The Wrong Shoes
Putting on suitable footwear is critical if you are to drive your car safely. You may feel comfortable in sandals or flip flops, especially throughout the summer, but these types of shoes have been known to cause crashes. This is because they can get stuck in the mat in the footwell and tend to slip off the pedals. Your insurance company might cover the cost of the accident regardless of the footwear you were wearing, but the payment for damage to your car could be reduced.
Driving Far Too Close
There is absolutely no reason why you should drive dangerously close to another vehicle. In fact, there is every reason why you shouldn’t. Aside from intimidating the poor driver in front of you, tailgating runs the risk of you hitting that car. If it were to suddenly slow down for some reason, you probably wouldn’t have enough time to do the same. This is why you should leave a fair distance between you and them. During poor weather conditions, this should be even further.
Leaving Snow Up Top
Winter may be a magical time, but it can cause serious problems for those on the road. As well as the treacherous road conditions, the snow that many drivers leave on top of their vehicles often results in accidents. When a car breaks suddenly or there is a gust of wind, this snow tends to come loose, falling onto the windscreens of that vehicle or other ones. You can’t control the actions of others, but you should make sure that you scrape the snow off your own car.
Ignoring School Zone Signs
School zones exist to keep parents, teachers, and children safe. Most people follow the rules regarding school zones when they know that kids are around, but don’t always do so during the day, at weekends, or throughout holidays. However, school zone rules should be followed regardless of the time or day. The moment you ignore a school zone sign, you put people at risk. Even if school isn’t currently in session, there might still be people visiting the building.
Keeping Your Beams On
In bad weather and on dark roads, high beams or brights are effective ways of illuminating your path. The trouble is, they can also have a blinding effect on oncoming traffic. When using your beams, you must be considerate towards oncoming drivers. If you see that a car is coming towards you, you should turn off your brights right away. As soon as they pass, you can switch them on again. If you’re worried about what’s ahead, then flash the beams briefly for a quick look.
Drinking Behind The Wheel
There are a few driving “mistakes” for which there are no excuses. As one of the leading causes of personal injury and death from car accidents, you can’t afford to drive after drinking. When you’ve had alcohol, even if only a small amount, it stops you from functioning properly. You might struggle to focus or react quickly to hazards and are much more likely to make reckless decisions. If you feel you might try to drive after drinking, then leave your keys and car at home.
Stopping Without Any Warning
People slam their brakes on for lots of reasons. Perhaps they spotted a good parking space, saw the street they need to turn down, or noticed the person they were driving to pick up. These excuses might be good, but they don’t change the damage that a sudden stop could cause. When you stop without any warning, you make every other driver behind you do the same. If even one of them can’t, this could result in a very serious accident.
Running On Premium Fuel
The better your car performs, the less fuel it will use and fewer repairs it will need. This is why some drivers choose to run their vehicles on a premium fuel. However, unless your car specifies a need for this more expensive option, there is absolutely no reason to use it. The vehicle won’t perform any better and might instead cause it to run incorrectly. This might result in a breakdown that costs you money and could put your safety in jeopardy.
Turning Without A Signal
Some drivers seem to think that other people on the road are psychic. After all, there’s no other reason why they would refuse to use their turn signals. This is an error that you seem most commonly on highways, where drivers don’t indicate before changing lanes or taking over another vehicle. However, you see it often enough in cities and towns too. The only way other road users will know where you’re going is if you tell them, so make sure that you remember to.
Avoiding Using The Mirrors
One of the very first things that you’re taught when you begin learning to drive is “Mirror, Signal, Maneuver”. This means that every time you make a move on the road, you should first check your mirrors, then signal, and only after doing those two things should you put the car into motion. Far too many drivers use their mirrors improperly or don’t use them at all. There is no excuse not to check your surroundings, especially when no doing it puts everyone at risk.
Speeding Through Yellow Lights
Yellow lights exist as a signal to slow down before the red lights. We all know this, but some people choose not to listen. Instead, they view the middle light as an excuse to speed up, so as to not have to wait. This is a bad decision that all too often results in intersection collisions, causing expensive damage and serious injuries. The few minutes you might spend waiting aren’t worth your life, so don’t risk it just to maybe get where you need to go a little bit faster.
Overlooking The Tire Pressure
Most cars have an indicator light for low tire pressure on the dashboard. Regardless of this, however, you must still make sure that you check your tire pressure regularly. This is particularly important after harsh weather and before long journeys. While a quick and simple maintenance task, this is one that can help to avoid loss of control, as well as tire blowouts. Maintaining the correct pressure will improve fuel efficiency too, reducing how much you spend on gas.
Falling Asleep While Driving
It should go without saying that when you’re sleepy, your reaction time will be reduced. This is why it’s always best to avoid driving when you’re tired. Although most people fall asleep at the wheel at night, it’s just as easy to do so during the daytime. If you feel like you might nod off, then you should pull over right away. Unless there’s another driver in the car that could take over, you should stop for a little while and have a nap. You’ll feel much more energized afterward.
Allowing Pets To Roam
Most people view their pets as members of the family. This is why, when we head off on vacation or for days out, we tend to take out four-legged friends with us. When you do so, however, you must make sure that they are secure in the back of the car. Allowing your pets to roam about the vehicle as they please is very dangerous and illegal in certain areas. Not only could they hurt themselves, but they could hurt or distract you, causing an accident.
The next time you get behind the wheel of a car, remember not to make the mistakes listed above.
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