Bad driving habits
We all have them. Bad driving habits that sneak in once we’ve passed our driving test. Whether it’s tailgating or eating at the wheel, which habits are harmless and which should we steer clear of to keep ourselves and other road users safe?
Poor steering wheel control
’10 and 2’ right? That’s certainly where we all start but as soon as our test is out the way, it’s easy to forget and rely on one-handed and other less secure wheel control positions. The two-handed ’10 and 2’ approach provides the best control possible making sure you can respond quickly and confidently. Definitely worth reverting to training on this.
Forgetting to indicate
Getting in the habit of not indicating can become a real problem. It’s not illegal but certainly viewed as careless driving and for other road users and pedestrians it can be very dangerous. Letting drivers know your intentions is vital to minimising the chances of crashing.
One of the most comment causes of accidents on the UK roads, driving too close to the car in front means you are at risk of driving into the back of their vehicle if they slow or stop suddenly. To avoid this, try to remember your stopping distances (that means the thinking distance plus braking distance necessary to prevent driving into the car in front). This is often further than you might be allowing yourself so always keep your distance (in particular in adverse weather conditions), and be aware of traffic slowing ahead of you.
Failure to consider blind spots
‘Mirrors, signal, manoeuvre’, the eternal driving lesson mantra, designed to ensure you spend time checking your road surroundings and, in particular, your blind spot. Remember that all-important check over your shoulder your driving instructor taught you? Road conditions change and real time observations are essential, so we should all get back into the blind spot habit.
Overloading your vehicle
This may seem like a non-issue but in actual fact overloading your vehicle regularly puts unnecessary strain on brakes and suspension and can negatively impact your fuel consumption, increase your exhaust emissions and alter how your car responds when you brake suddenly. Check what your advised load is and don’t exceed it.
Driving with low fuel
It’s a common misconception that driving with low fuel means that your vehicle is lighter and helps your fuel go further. This is not the case. Rather than risk running out of fuel (which can be damaging to your engine not to mention downright inconvenient), be sure to refuel your vehicle as soon as the ‘empty’ fuel light comes on and allow your vehicle to run on optimal.
Cruising over potholes and speed bumps
Roads are not all created equal and whilst you might be familiar with those you travel frequently, don’t let this encourage you to take speed bumps at pace or fly over potholes. Both can do significant damage to your vehicle, from buckled wheels and cracked alloys to damaged suspension. It’s worth sticking to recommended speeds to avoid this and remember that speed bumps are there with the objective of slowing you down!
Driving too fast for road conditions
Speeding when conditions are wet or icy contributes to a high percentage of road accidents. Avoid this by allowing yourself extra time for travel and being vigilant about your speed when conditions are poor. You may be familiar with the route but regardless, take your time and be aware that bad driving conditions can also significantly affect your response times.
Don’t be an Amber Gambler
We’ve all been there, thinking we can make the lights, so speeding up just a little at an amber light, just to ensure we don’t get stuck at a red. But all lights and junctions have their own interval patterns and what you might think is enough time, may not be. Don’t be tempted to chance it on an amber when oncoming traffic could be coming sooner than you think.
Doing other things while at the wheel
The list is long here, from eating to putting your make up on, fiddling with the stereo to plugging in your phone, there are endless ways to distract yourself from the road. The simplest approach here is don’t. Do what you need before you start driving and pull over if you need to do anything else. Losing concentration for a few seconds can have serious implications.