When it comes to driving safely, the best way to do this is simply by driving safer. For many drivers, after driving for years and becoming comfortable on the road, it can be easy to slip into bad driving habits. But these bad habits have a greater impact on your driving than you even realize – and can lead to getting tickets, into an accident or just wear and tear on your car. So if you want to really drive safely, you might want to stop some of these habits before it’s too late.
Whether it’s responding to a text, trying to focus on the maps from your smartphone or just being more focused on changing the song than the road in front of you, distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents. Not only is it illegal to use your phone while operating a car, but splitting focus between driving and any other activity (yes, even eating while driving for you multi-taskers!) is taking your focus off of the road, making you less likely to anticipate a change in the behaviour in the cars around you, notice changes to traffic lights or spot any obstructions in the road on short notice.
RIDING THE BRAKES:
Not only is this so annoying to other drivers, but driving with your foot on the brake pedal will lead to unnecessary wear and tear and excess strain on your brakes and car.
SLOWING DOWN TO ‘MACO’:
We’ve all been there – stuck on the highway in traffic because everyone wants to slow down to see what’s going on on the side of the road, but this technique, called “rubbernecking” is dangerous. It’s important to keep your eyes on the road instead of looking off to the side, so you don’t cause an accident by not seeing what’s in front of you. Plus, no one wants to be stuck in unnecessary traffic!
ROLLING AT STOP SIGNS
Listen, they say “stop” for a reason. Even if a street looks clear, you should always come to a complete stop at a stop sign before driving ahead or turning. This small but dangerous bad habit has caused many unexpected car accidents – plus you can get a ticket if you’re caught.
Not only is this terrible for your brakes and will inevitably cause wear and tear on your car, but stopping suddenly is an easy way to get into an accident if the driver behind you is distracted or isn’t anticipating your sudden stop. Driving well also means driving for others on the road, and if others aren’t cautious drivers, you may find yourself rear ended.
RIDING SOMEONE’S TAIL
If you’ve been driving for some time, you know there is nothing more infuriating than a car that’s riding your tail, or “tailgating”. Not only is this incredibly annoying, but it’s also very unsafe. Driving too close to the car in front of you can lead to accidents, especially if you’re a distracted driver who’s not paying incredibly close attention to the road. If you’re driving behind someone vindictive who’s frustrated with your tailriding, they can “brake check” by slamming on the brakes, causing an accident where you’re in the wrong. It’s always smart to keep a safe distance between vehicles on the road.
FAILING TO SIGNAL
When you drive, you drive for others, and signalling is just one way to be a courteous and safe driver on the road. It’s important to let others on the road know what your next move is by using your turn signals, so they can slow down or move to accommodate this move. The ideal range is to signal at least 100 feet before your turn or merge.
We all know the struggle of finding a parking spot – and sometimes it can be tempting to park on a curb, in a no-park zone or just straight up illegally. But this is never a good idea. Firstly, because it’s not a certified parking zone, other cars on the road may not anticipate your car being there and accidents can happen. If this does, you’re in the wrong. Secondly, parking in a spot that is not allocated for you – whether it’s a no-parking zone or reserved for handicapped cars – is a guaranteed way to get a hefty ticket to pay off.
RUNNING THE LIGHT
A yellow light means “slow down”, to prepare you for the red light. Many drivers, once confident enough with the road, use this opportunity to speed up and “make the light”. Running a yellow light increases your chance of a crash. If the light turns yellow before you reach the intersection, it’s better and safer just to not risk it.
And running a red light should go without saying. Even if it’s 2 am and the streets are clear, there’s never a reason to proceed past a red light. Many drivers have gotten into severe and even fatal accidents by making the decision to run a red light.
This one shouldn’t need reminding, but driving over the speed limit is one of the most dangerous driving habits a driver can have. Not only does it increase the opportunities of getting pulled over and served with an expensive ticket, but it puts you at greater risk of accidents and serious crashes. Speed limits are in place for a reason, and failing to follow them can put you, other drivers and even pedestrians on the street at risk, for no good reason.
So, the next time you get into your car and buckle up to drive, we hope you consider some of these bad driving habits and make the effort to break them in order to be a better and safer driver on the road.