Do you think you’re a good driver?
There’s very few people who would answer that question in the negative. That’s the problem; we all think we’re good drivers. If 99.9% of people claim to be good behind the wheel, why are accident statistics still so high? Are they all just freaks of nature — or are some of us in denial about how good we are at handling a car?
Let’s cut to the chase on this one: it’s the denial. While we all think we’re good drivers, the simple fact is that a lot of us… aren’t. We make mistakes; do stupid things; lose concentration — all the things that we know we shouldn’t do, but which we have yet to pay the price for. As we’ve gotten away with these bad habits, we see no reason to stop doing them. There’s nothing wrong with thinking like this; honestly. It’s cause and effect, and if we’ve not had the effect, then we see no need to change the cause.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean a nudge in the right direction can’t be beneficial. If you’d rather change your ways before your luck runs out, then here are five bad driving habits that we all need to eradicate.
Getting Deeply Involved In A Conversation With Passengers
Talking while driving is suddenly a problem?
Yep – it is. There’s no doubt about it. It’s not that different to being on the phone while driving; the key point is that you’re otherwise interested in something that isn’t the road in front of you. If relations with your passengers deteriorate to the point where you’re arguing, then that’s even worse — your mind is definitely not where it should be.
There’s nothing wrong with idle chitchat when driving; enjoying the company of the people in the car with you. However, if you get engrossed in a conversation that involves planning something — requiring extra focus that isn’t on the road — or the aforementioned arguments start to brew, then your mind is too distracted.
Even if you’ve driven the stretch of road you’re on a thousand times, it’s still not safe to be so occupied by another topic. You don’t know what’s going to leap out in front of you, or whether another driver is going to make a catastrophic error that you have split-seconds to react to. Reaction times aren’t great at the best of times, but how much worse is it going to be if your attention is already diverted before you notice that there’s a problem?
Breaking The Speed Limit
If you’re reading this and thinking: “but I never break the speed limit!” then, frankly, it’s kind of tough to believe. We all break the speed limit, every single person who has ever driven a car has done it.
That’s not to say it’s intentional, of course. Sometimes you can just be driving down a hill and you’ll creep over the limit — but that counts, even if you immediately brake to slow the car down. If you do intentionally break the speed limit when you’re running late or just as a matter of course, then this is all the more important for you to keep in mind, too. Whether accidental or deliberate, a broken speed limit is still a broken speed limit.
Yes, there’s the legal ramifications you’d have to deal with if caught, but the major concern is regarding safety. Slow down and stay within the limit; make adjustments with the gas pedal when you’re going downhill. There can be serious repercussions to a perpetual habit of breaking the limit, so don’t do it.
Driving While Tired
Everyone knows you shouldn’t do it; feeling sleepy behind the wheel is thought to contribute to a huge number of accidents every year. But still, it happens.
There are various techniques you can use to wake yourself up if you feel sleepy while driving, so that’s definitely a start. However, if you’re really fatigued, then you’re going to need to pull over for a nap. If you’re rushing to a meeting, call ahead and explain. You can emphasize the safety aspect of driving while sleepy, what it does to you, and how crash rates soar with every hour of lost sleep.
The most dangerous time to be driving while sleepy is first thing in the morning. If this is a continual problem for you, then it might be worth looking at your sleep schedule and seeing if there are any changes you should be making to ensure you’re adequately rested.
Assuming “It’ll Be Fine!” When We’ve Been Drinking
There’s no doubt that drink driving has become socially unacceptable, thanks to a series of ad campaigns. Most groups have a designated driver who doesn’t partake in alcohol for the duration of an evening out; or if we’re driving ourselves, we limit our intake for the night.
However, there is still a tendency for people to have a drink, think they’re limiting themselves, and then be shocked when they fail a breathalyzer test. The blood alcohol limit allowed is actually fairly low, so you can break it even when you feel entirely normal and have only had one or two drinks — a number most of us think is ‘safe’.
The truth is, very little alcohol is actually safe when you’re getting behind the wheel of a car. Wherever possible, stick to soft drinks and water rather than taking the risk, telling yourself it’ll be fine, then being pulled over and winding up needing to contact a DUI lawyer. On nights where you really want to cut loose and enjoy yourself, it’s a far better idea to get a taxi home instead.
You’re in a rush and you’re busy, but there’s really no excuse for tailgating the car in front. No longer explanation needed for this one; tailgating will panic the driver in front and make you feel even more stressed. It’s best for you both if you hang back and just wait for an opportunity to overtake.
Bad habits happen; no judgement. You’ve likely done some of the above and emerged unscathed. None of us like to change our habits, but sometimes, you have to admit it might be better if you did so. So keep the above in mind the next time you’re behind the wheel, and everyone — yourself included — will be all the safer for it.