Most drivers like to think that they are good drivers; safe, respectful and in compliance with the rules of the road. But there are a lot of bad habits ingrained in drivers that are quite common and hardly given a second thought – until they result in a ticket or an accident. These common bad habits cost drivers thousands every year in car repairs, fines and increased car insurance rates. With a little awareness, the habits can be broken. With that being said, here are the top ten bad driving habits:
- Speeding. It sounds obvious, but more people are guilty of speeding than they believe. In fact, driving 5-10km/h over the speed limit may not sound like much, but that increase in speed is enough to reduce stopping time, increase the odds of an accident and earn you a ticket.
- Talking on the phone. Although most states have passed laws banning the use of cell phones while driving, drivers continue to make and receive phone calls behind the wheel. Not only can this mean a major ticket, talking on the phone has been conclusively linked to an increased chance of an accident due to driver distraction.
- Texting while driving. Quite a bit more dangerous than talking on the phone, this bad habit is among the worst offenses. Texting takes your hands and eyes off the road along with your attention and results in serious accidents every year.
- Using other electronic devices. GPS navigation systems, MP3 players, DVD players for the kids – all of these electronic devices can distract a driver from what is going on around them and result in an accident. Many states have outlawed the use of a variety of electronic devices by the driver while on the road, not just cell phones, so you could face a ticket if caught. It’s best to keep distractions away from the driver and be sure to program your GPS prior to leaving home; if you need to re-program it, pull over.
- Running red lights. Drivers in a hurry often try to beat the traffic light rather than slowing down when the yellow light appears. Running red lights can cause serious traffic accidents – and with traffic cameras placed in more and more intersections, the chances of receiving a ticket without even being stopped has increased.
- Tailgating. Driving too close to the car in front of you is a dangerous habit that is all too common. It’s important to remember that in any situation where you strike another car from the rear you will likely be found at fault; allowing some stopping distance can avoid accidents.
- Failure to account for road conditions. It shouldn’t take a nasty thunderstorm to get a driver to slow down on the road and yet, many of us fail to take into account weather and road conditions and their impact on stopping times and visibility. Slow down any time road conditions are less than optimal. Many people aren’t aware of it, but you may get a ticket for driving too fast for road conditions.
- Not using turn signals. Failing to use your turn signals to indicate that you are going to change lanes or make a turn may seem like a minor thing, but this all too common habit can cause major problems. When other drivers are not anticipating what you are going to do, accidents can happen. Signaling is one of the simplest things to do and yet one of the most prevalent bad habits.
- Road rage. This may not seem like a habit on the surface, but the failure to keep your cool and put your emotions aside on the road is a bad habit. Anger on the road leads to poor decisions that can result in serious accidents as well as tickets that can have a major impact on your car insurance rates.
- Cutting other drivers off. This may be the one bad habit that leads to road rage more often than any other. Cutting in front of another driver suddenly to too closely causes them to have to take defensive action that can result in an accident. It also frustrates and angers other drivers, causing them to lose focus on the road.
There is hardly a driver on the road that is not guilty of at least one of these bad habits and most of us are likely guilty more than once. Tickets and accidents as a result of these habits can have a major impact on car insurance rates and result in injuries and fatalities every year. Reducing distractions, staying focused and calm as well as following the most basic rules of the road are simple ways to make everyone safer on the road.
In addition to keeping yourself and other safe, you should also be mindful or bad habits that can affect your vehicle. Bad driving habits can wear out different arts on the car more quickly, which means you have to replace parts or take risks as you drive. No matter your experience level, watch out for these bad habits when you get behind the wheel.
- Not Enough Fuel: Of course, gas prices have made it very difficult for many people to keep a full tank of gas these days. However, you still do not want to end up running your car when it is close to empty. This allows sediment from the gas to settle at the bottom of the gas tank, which means you end up using dirty gas that gets into the vehicle’s fuel line and engine. This eventually takes a toll on the vehicle, particularly the engine. It also shortens the life span of the fuel filter. When this dirt builds up, you actually have to flush the entire fuel system, which comes with a cost.
- Mistreating the Engine: While you may like the sound of the engine revving, you may not like the toll this unnecessary action takes on the engine. Revving the engine actually puts more stress and strain on the engine. While you should never rev the engine, you should especially avoid this action when your engine is cold and all the oil still sits in the bottom of the oil pan. At this point, none of the engine’s parts have been lubricated, which means you can damage the engine. The costs to flush or replace a fuel system may be a few hundred dollars, but repairing damage to an engine can cost you thousands of dollars.
- Stopping and Starting Too Quickly: You may want to rethink the way you drive when you find yourself suddenly stopping quickly when you just could not make that light. Accelerating and decelerating too quickly also puts undo strain on the engine. Furthermore, flooring the gas pedal not only strains the engine but also makes you use gas more quickly. Hitting the brakes too fast puts stress on the vehicle’s brakes, so you shorten their life span. So in addition to the engine maintenance, you also have to spend money to maintain or replace your brake parts.
Of course, there are some instances in which you will not be able to avoid starting and stopping, especially if you frequently drive in a city with lots of traffic. However, it helps if you become a more aware driver and try to anticipate starts and stops whenever possible. Get into the habit of driving smoothly to preserve your engine and breaks. If you have had a habit of revving your engine, try to break yourself of it since it serves no purpose, practical or otherwise. Also, avoid driving when you do not have enough gas in the tank.