We've all been told countless times not to drink and drive, drive when we're tired or use our cell phones when we're at the wheel, but have you ever considered some of the less obvious bad driving habits that you may have? If the answer is no, then allow me to bring them into your awareness. Here are 15 less obvious bad driving habits that all of us really should avoid getting into:
1. Driving Too Fast for the Road Conditions
If it starts to rain, or the road you're on is slick or icy, don't rely on your vehicle's stability and safety systems to keep you on the road – they are fallible when pushed beyond their limits too. Do the sensible thing and slow down to a speed that is appropriate for the road conditions. Also keep in mind that 24% of all road accidents in the US occur due to adverse weather and/or road conditions.
2. Drafting Tractor Trailers
Okay, so you dreamed of being a NASCAR driver in your youth, but life didn't turn out the way you imagined. If you're behind a tractor trailer on the highway, don't be tempted into doing any drafting maneuvers to save fuel or for any other reason, as this will not allow you enough time to brake in the event that the driver has to slam on his brakes. The bottom of a trailer and the height of your car's hood provide the ideal recipe for decapitation…
3. Failure to Yield the Right of Way
Don't be that driver who always has to go first, especially when you're supposed to yield the right of way. In fact, this kind of bad driving habit is the leading cause of accidents among drivers over 70. Another part of failure to yield is running stop signs and red lights in built-up areas. Other drivers expect an intersection to be clear when their light turns green.
4. Driving Fast or Too Slow for the Road Type
While you often hear about speeding and the grave consequences (no pun intended) that can ensue if you do have an accident, driving slowly in the outside lane of a highway is just as unacceptable. Staying within 15kph of a road's stated speed limit is the way to go, drastically reducing the risk of an accident for yourself and everyone around you.
5. Doing Makeup While Driving
Ladies, this one's for you. While we totally appreciate you for continuously putting your best foot forward, it would probably be a wise move on your behalf if you kept at least one eye on the road. Think about it – to apply mascara, for instance, you need to squint with one eye and use the other to look at what you're doing in your car's visor mirror. We'd rather have you around with a little less makeup on than not have you around at all.
6. Skipping the Queue
Having to deal with a long queue of cars is frustrating for everyone that's stuck in one, including you. With that being said, it's never a good idea to just overtake everyone and then barge your way in. If you're on the receiving end of someone's rudeness and impatience, be the bigger person and let them sneak in in front of you. That's a way better outcome than causing a multi-car pileup, isn't it?
There's no denying that human beings are curious creatures. If there's an accident on the road you're driving on, you'd undoubtedly be inclined to look to see what has happened, especially if it looks like multiple cars are involved. Before you do "rubberneck", however, think about whether there are cars behind you, and whether you could continue contributing to the mayhem in your immediate vicinity.
8. Not Checking Tire Pressures
An incredibly easy thing to neglect could result in a big, unnecessary accident, and we're sure you don't want that. A car that has different pressure levels in its four wheels could be prone to ill handling. If you get it wrong going around a particularly tricky corner, you know what the result can be. What's more is that incorrect tire pressures will harm your car's gas mileage and cause uneven tire wear.
9. Trying to Make a Turn at the Last Second
If you've just realized that you've only got a few seconds to swerve and make it onto the correct highway exit, then resist the temptation and get off at the next one. While doing so will save you time, have you asked yourself what could happen if you misjudge your swerve? Cars and concrete walls are not good bedfellows, and you shouldn't be the one to challenge the theory.
10. Accelerating Through Yellow Lights
Although you might want to see if you can beat the yellow light before it turns red, you're better off just sitting back and waiting for it to go green. Consider the fact that different traffic lights have different time intervals to one another, meaning that you could be fooled into thinking you can make it past clearly when in reality you can't.
11. Eating While Driving
The majority of us have been guilty of this one in the past after grabbing a double cheeseburger at the drive-through, but the truth is that having one hand off the wheel so you can bite into whichever tasty morsel has taken your fancy is a distraction. Both of your hands are best left on your car's steering wheel when you're driving.
12. Not Checking Blind Spots
It's very easy to make an assumption that there aren't any cars alongside you, but assumptions can always be wrong. Couple a good look in your wing mirror with a quick glance over your shoulder to ensure that the coast is completely clear before you switch lanes.
13. Improper Merging
You may think you're being polite by waiting for a gap when trying to merge onto a freeway or highway, but what you're really doing is holding up all the cars that are behind you. On the other hand, resist the urge to hurriedly try and make it into a perceived gap – it might not be big enough. Treat merging as if it was a delicate balancing act that needs finesse to get it right.
14. Cutting People Off
Being late heading out to work or an appointment is never a good situation to be in, but that doesn't mean you should make it worse by trying to make up time weaving through heavy traffic. If you do, you're running the risk of the car behind you running into you, as well as the risk of slamming into the car ahead of you if you execute the maneuver too quickly.
Whether you're guilty of doing this or have been on the receiving end of it, tailgating drives both parties involved completely crazy. The person in the car in front gets annoyed at the person in the car behind because of their unwillingness to back off, and vice versa because the person in the car in front just won't speed up. Tailgating can also lead to vindictive pieces of driving, such as brake checking. There should always be a minimum of two seconds' distance to each car, both front and back, on any given road.