Bad driving habits….it’s something all of us drivers have more or less.
Of course, bad habits ought to be reduced or, if possible, wiped out completely.
Nowhere is this more important than in driving. The truth is that bad driving habits go so far as to being outright dangerous, not only for you but for other participants in traffic.
Mainly for that reason, this list has the purpose of reminding you what you may be doing wrong. If it does and you manage to reduce or get rid of the bad habit, then this article has served its purpose.
1. LACK OF ATTENTION
This is perhaps the number one among bad driving habits. Most dangerous one also.
As all drivers should know, attention is the mother of safety in traffic.
Every experienced driver will never let his/her guard down totally. They may seem relaxed while driving but will always react on time and notice a dangerous situation well before it unfolds.
Lots of drivers sadly have an attention problem at least from what I’ve seen over the years.
Not paying attention to traffic, dozing away into another traffic lane, starring around (like at houses, cars, people, etc.) are just some of the symptoms of this very bad driving habit.
They do this totally disregarding the possible consequences.
Driving is never to be taken for granted. A good driver is one that is alert at all times.
One of the worst bad driving habits out there. Mainly because it disregards another huge safety factor in traffic and that is: DISTANCE!
Proper distance allows you to react on time and have a better overview of the traffic ahead.
Tailgating is the exact opposite. Reducing safe distance means less time for reaction, less visibility, and worse of all, endangering yourself and other participants in traffic.
For instance, one heavier braking from the car in front of you may spell disaster.
Tailgating mostly comes from nervous driving, road rage, lack of experience, and other dangerous factors.
Again, tailgating seriously endangers everyone in traffic and may well cause an accident.
This should be reason enough to avoid this habit and maintain a safe distance, whatever the situation may be.
3. USING THE CELLPHONE WHEN DRIVING
The picture of a man/woman talking on a cellphone while driving is probably as old as the cellphone itself.
The common scene is that one hand is on the steering wheel and the other is on the phone. Above that, if the car has a manual transmission and shifting is involved you have a first-class juggling act.
What amazes me the most is the fact that all phone and tech companies have invested huge amounts of money and resources to make driving and speaking on the cellphone safe.
Handsfree systems, various systems that allow phone and car multimedia connections have made talking on the phone and driving at the same time possible. Namely in terms of freeing your hands.
There is always the fact that talking on the cellphone while driving is a distraction on its own and inevitably causes a lack of attention to some extent.
But despite all of this, you can still see a lot of drivers holding the cellphone in one hand and driving with the other. Even at high-speeds, when changing lanes, or else.
Seems to be one of those bad driving habits that will never go away.
The golden rule was and still is: use the cellphone when driving when you have to and as little as possible. This way you’ll shorten the lack of attention to a minimum.
Also, if you don’t have any of the hands-free systems, best pull over as soon as possible and peacefully finish the conversation.
All of this might seem tedious but it is very effective and will probably save you from an accident.
4. LISTENING TO LOUD MUSIC
Lots of drivers like to turn the volume button to the maximum. When that favorite music starts, the volume simply has to go up.
But the truth is that loud music is not good for driving in terms of paying attention to the road and being aware of what’s happening around you.
This goes double if you do it for a prolonged period of time.
You simply won’t be able to hear anything like someone horning, perhaps a malfunction on the car, someone warning you of danger or else.
If you really like to listen to loud music while driving, then best do it in short bursts, a few minutes at a time.
Either it’s a lack of attention, hurry, or perhaps an emergency; most of us have exceeded that number on the traffic sign.
When these are the reasons, speeding is to some extent, understandable.
What’s not is speeding all the time.
Simply, some drivers have a lead foot, they enjoy the adrenalin and see speed limits as obstacles to the journeys they’ve planned out.
Speeding all the time is among the worst bad driving habits and a driver should get rid of it as soon as possible.
Speed limits are present for a very good reason.
Some of these reasons are dangerous curves, schools, intersections, blind spots, high-risk crossings, populated places, etc.
Besides this, speed limits are also a safety measure for keeping public roads and highways safe for all participants. Without them, every drive would probably look like a high-speed race.
Constant speeding is for the race track, normal and civilized driving is for public roads.
6. NOT USING THE SEATBELT
The seat belt was invented for one purpose only: to save the driver’s life in case of an accident.
Despite this fact, many drivers see the seat belt as a nuisance and try to avoid it at all costs.
Car manufacturers have tried to solve this problem by installing sound and dashboard signals that warn the driver to use the seat belt. They do this in a very efficient (read annoying way) so that there’s a good probability that the belt will be used.
But drivers are cunning and have fought this off with things like spare seat belt clips and fastening the seat belt behind their backs.
Very resourceful but at the same time very risky!
Any kind of collision and there’s a serious risk of injury especially at high speeds.
Have this in mind if you or your passengers try any kind of seat belt trickery. You’ll just be endangering and causing problems for yourselves.
7. NOT LOWERING THE HIGH BEAM LIGHTS
High beam lights, when not lowered on time, produce a camera flash effect that temporarily blinds the driver from the opposite direction.
Combine this with a possible obstacle on the road and an accident can happen in no time.
There is a fair amount of drivers that do this on the road and sometimes I get the feeling that they really don’t care about it.
The only remedy for this bad habit is to flash the high beams for a second at the incoming car. Usually helps but sometimes even this isn’t enough.
If this doesn’t help then you’ll just have to slow down and wait for the reckless driver to pass. You can point a high beam back but that’s also dangerous.
8. NOT USING TURN SIGNALS
At least once you’ve been in a situation where you’re waiting at an intersection for an upcoming car to pass only to see that it turns. Without giving the turn signal. The sense of being cheated is inevitable.
One of the most annoying among bad driving habits as this is both dangerous and shows some serious bad manners on the road.
Even worse is when a driver suddenly takes a turn in front of you or changes lanes without giving a turn signal.
When you see drivers like this best keep a safe distance and a cool temper.
9. USING FOG LIGHTS WHEN THERE’S NO FOG
When the fog lights are turned on and the weather is clear, a blinding effect is produced. Similar to using high beam lights.
You don’t what’s worse, the front fog lights or the rear ones. The front ones, as mentioned cause a blinding effect while the rear red ones cause fatigue and nervousness for the driver that’s behind.
Drivers mostly do this for better road vision. The fact that they show total disregard for other drivers doesn’t seem to be a worry for them.
10. NOT USING THE REARVIEW MIRROR
Seems that some drivers use the rearview mirror more as an ornament than as a major driving help.
While waiting in traffic for various reasons, I had the chance to see how many drivers don’t bother to properly set the rearview mirror. It’s either too high, too low, and once I’ve even seen it set upwards!
This means that interest in the road situation behind is zero!
Rear visibility is equally important as the front one. You can best see this in driving school. One of the first lessons you learn is to set the rearview and side mirrors before starting to drive.
11. FREQUENT BRAKING
Brakes are immensely important on a car but equally important is to wisely use them.
One of the worst driving habits in existence is the unnecessary or constant pressing of the brake pedal.
I hope you know what I’m talking about…. you’re behind someone in traffic and the brake lights constantly go on and off without any good or visible reason.
This is bad as it keeps the driver behind on constant guard which is pretty stressing especially for a prolonged period of time. Not to mention the fact that traffic is being slowed down.
Best to keep a safe distance from drivers like these as he/she may be seriously inexperienced or maybe just lost.
Keeping proper distance is a lifesaver in this case.
12. CUTTING OFF IN TRAFFIC
Unfortunately, a common, rude, and reckless trait of many drivers.
It mostly comes from a poor judgment in traffic, a false sense of knowing how to drive, or out of sheer stupidity.
I can’t say, sometimes a driver is forced to do this but I assure you, if you know how to drive you’ll seldom get yourself in this kind of situation.
Before cutting someone off, a driver should always have in mind other participants in traffic and more importantly, their reaction to this.
For instance, some drivers may panic, press the brake pedal manically and cause an accident. Imagine this situation on a busy highway or when driving at higher speeds.
Cutting off is one of the bad driving habits that should be totally irradicated.
If you encounter a driver cutting you off, the best solution is to try and make some distance. Distance is key for safety. Just get as far away as you can.
You may even encounter situations where the reckless driver is trying to cut you off in desperation. This is best seen on a two-lane road when a bad judgment in overtaking is made.
The bad judgment has left him/her in the opposite lane and there’s no other solution than to cut you off.
In this case, always have mercy, try to make space, and let that driver back in your lane. You’ll probably save everybody in front and behind you from a horrible consequence.
13. PARKING IN RESERVED AREAS
The main reasons for this bad habit are the lack of parking spaces and bad behavior.
The usual scenario is that you see a car with the hazards lights on parked in a space for disabled people, in a reserved parking space, or else.
The common excuse is ¨Sorry, I’ll just be a minute, there was no other parking space near˝. That is if there is an excuse. Some people just park and don’t care.
Parking in a reserved area is one of the pinnacles of bad behavior and only an emergency can justify it (which is rarely the case).
If a driver gets tempted to do so, he/she should always remember that someone really needs that parking space or has paid money in order to keep it vacant.
I’m always amazed that people do this instead of searching for a parking lot a bit further away. It’s a common situation that there’s a ton of parking space just a couple of hundred meters away.
By doing this, you’ll spare yourself from the suspense caused by thinking will the parking service tow you away and at the same time, get a nice and healthy walk.
14. REVVING THE ENGINE (TOO HIGH OR TOO LOW REVS)
The last two bad driving habits on this list apply to drivers that have cars with manual transmission.
The sad truth is that many drivers, especially the inexperienced ones have no idea how the engine works and how it’s supposed to be treated.
They will either let the engine scream or bog it down while driving. You don’t know what’s worse and in any case, serious damage can be inflicted to the engine and its systems in the long run.
Besides this, the driving experience will be totally ruined.
Mainly because of this, rpm meters were invented. If you can’t hear and “feel” the engine, you can certainly see the numbers when to shift.
15. RESTING YOUR FOOT ON THE CLUTCH PEDAL
One of the bad driving habits that are mostly present with less experienced stick shift drivers.
This is done for one main reason: faster reaction. When the foot is constantly on the clutch you can react and shift faster.
But the downside is the strain that you put on the clutch. You see, by doing this you are slightly disengaging it. This can damage the clutch and over time even cause slipping.
Simply put, by resting your foot on the pedal you’re slowly ruining the clutch.
This is one of the main reasons why footrests were conveniently installed next to the clutch pedal.
Use the footrest as much as you can and get rid of this bad habit a soon as possible. Press the clutch, shift, and immediately move your foot onto the footrest.
It may take some time to get used to it, but in the long run, your clutch set and wallet will be thankful.
Also, when you get used to it, the reaction time should be almost the same.
Always remember that most bad driving habits cause a major problem: they endanger traffic safety.
If you practice some of these habits you are endangering other people in traffic and their passengers. Burn this into your mind.
This is reason enough to get rid of these habits or at least reduce them to a minimum.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any of these bad habits be aware that a lot of other drivers do.
If you encounter any of them know that most of these people are probably reckless, inexperienced, have a false sense of courage, and have a serious lack of empathy.
The best thing you can do in this case is to recognize this behavior on time and get away from that driver as soon and as far as possible.
Distance and awareness will always be the guardian angels in traffic.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com