Good and Bad Driving Habits
While driving can seem as effortless as riding a bike, a lot is happening underneath the hood when we take to the road. From managing our speed and distance to other cars to navigating poor weather, heavy traffic or tricky parallel parking jobs, driving is a skill that either improves over time or grows stagnant and potentially dangerous to others.
That’s why it never hurts to refresh your driving habits. Whether you’re brand new to driving or a professional daily commuter, here are some good and bad driving habits.
Good Driving Habits
Wear a Seat Belt
Wearing a seat belt should become second nature. The moment you enter any car, either as a driver or passenger, make a point of buckling up. Statistically, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injuries by 45%. Plus, a minimum £100 penalty awaits those caught without a seat belt when they’re supposed to be wearing one. As the saying goes, better to be safe than sorry!
Hide your Phone
You can use a phone while driving if you have hands-free access, such as a Bluetooth headset, but the reality is that you’re still distracted from driving when juggling a conversation. And while it may be tempting to look at texts while queued in traffic—don’t. Set the phone aside, or better yet hide it until you arrive at your destination. When your life and the lives of others is at stake, the conversation can wait.
Share the Road
Biking is becoming increasingly popular as a preferred method of commuting. While it may seem like cyclists choose to ride in the middle of the road to slow car traffic down, it’s actually because they’re trained to avoid debris and clutter along the shoulder. It’s also a way to increase their visibility to drivers. Sharing the road is less of a skill and more of a mentality, but it can help you remain calm and patient—arguably two of the most important mindsets you can have while driving.
Observe your Surroundings
From bad weather and road conditions to reckless pedestrians, stray cats and bad drivers, there are plenty of obstacles and distractions that can occur on any particular day. Remaining observant and mindful of your surroundings is important. Can you hear an emergency siren over the noise of the radio? Are you checking the rear and side view mirrors regularly for traffic irregularities?
Bad Driving Habits
Overly Aggressive Driving
Road rage, as many of us know, is real. And while many fall prey to becoming impatient, upset and bothered by other drivers, shouting and tailgating rarely make a difference. Remain defensive while others drive aggressively, and remember: unless it’s an absolute emergency there’s no real rush to be anywhere.
Failing to Signal and Merge Correctly
Many drivers assume their actions are obvious and fail to signal, which can lead to confusion, traffic jams and accidents. Always signal, even if no one is immediately behind you. Match the speed of those around you to properly merge, check your blind spots for other drivers and cyclists, and only merge when you know there’s plenty of space in the next lane.
Tailgaters are the bane of daily driving, and while there isn’t much that can be done to avoid them, there is a helpful trick to avoid becoming one. The two-second rule is designed to provide enough reaction time for drivers to avoid sudden pile-ups or accidents. No matter the speed, by staying two seconds behind the driver in front of you, you prevent yourself from accidentally tailgating while giving yourself enough time to brake and react. Use passing lampposts or trees to count the seconds in your head between yourself and the next driver.
Don’t Drink and Drive
It goes without saying that drink driving should be avoided at all cost. While 80 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood is the legal limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, alcohol affects each person differently and immediately impairs one’s ability to drive. Like using a cellphone while driving, the risks are far too high.
Focus on Safe Driving
As a driver, you’re responsible for the safety of your occupants and those around you. Small preventive measures, such as always wearing a seat belt and putting your phone away make you not only a safer driver but also reduce the risk of injuring yourself and others. Follow these tips, and you’ll contribute to making the roads a better place for everyone.
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