Don’t Do These! The 6 Worst Driving Habits
Whether you’re learning to drive or have been driving for years, you soon find out that not everyone drives exactly the way we were taught. Every driver eventually develops their own driving habits and unfortunately, not all of them are helpful. Habits are not easy to break but the first step is recognizing the issue. Below are 6 bad driving habits you don’t want to pick up.
Accelerating Through Amber Lights
You are not in a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie. You are getting groceries. It might be exhilarating to speed up in order to make it through a light, but it could lead to a major collision. Some traffic lights are longer than others, so you may think you have time when you really don’t.
To correct: Check the pedestrian crossing sign at every intersection to tell if a traffic light is ‘stale’ or ‘fresh’. If the orange hand signal is steady the light is stale and is about to change to yellow. When approaching an amber light, at the very least, take your foot off the accelerator and prepare to slow down. If the light turns red, you want to be able to ease up to the intersection with a nice, gradual deceleration.
Everyone knows someone who is polite to a fault and constantly holding open the door for people. Everybody has also witnessed a person in the merge lane who lets car after car zoom past them. The difference between these two people is one of them has somehow ‘weaponized’ being polite.
To correct: Most onramps and highway intersections have merge lanes which allow drivers to pull out safely and reach highway speed before merging into traffic. Be aware of oncoming vehicles but don’t hold up traffic.
If it requires both hands to drive a vehicle, chances are your brain should be involved as well. Distracted driving is any activity that pulls the driver’s focus from the road: eating, texting, Pokémon Go, etc. In Saskatchewan, a first-time offender caught distracted driving will be issued a $580 ticket and four demerit points.
To correct: The road is no place to ‘zone out’. Keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road at all times.
The speed limits are federally tested to make sure they balance safety with efficiency. When you speed, you are putting yourself at risk in more than one way. Your vehicle’s safety features, such as airbags and crumple zones, are certified to be effective at certain speeds. So, when you speed you are not only lowering your response time to potential accidents, you are also reducing the effectiveness of your vehicle’s safety systems.
To correct: In the words of Billy Joel: “Slow down you crazy child.”
Creeping Ahead at a Light
You will not get a prize for getting through the intersection first, so when you’re at a red light just stay put until the light turns green. When you slowly pull forward at a red light you are putting pedestrians in the crossing zone at risk and plus no one likes a creep!
Tailgating a vehicle.
There is only one acceptable form of tailgating and that’s one involving a stationary vehicle and BBQ sauce. You should always maintain enough following distance to be able to safely react to whatever the vehicle in front of you does.
To correct: Measure a safe following distance by selecting a stationary object, like a tree or a lamppost, and sing “baby shark doo doo doo doo doo” before you reach that same object. You should leave about 3 – 5 seconds between vehicles but that song will be burned in your head forever.
Habits are heavily reinforced neuro-circuits in the brain. To rewire the brain takes a lot of conscious effort and directed practice. Sometimes the worst part about habits is that they’re so ingrained, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. So, if you recognize any of these behaviours in yourself, you have taken the first step in changing them. What driving habits make you nuts?