Less Obvious Driving Habits To Avoid

Image by imageegami via Adobe Stock

Image by imageegami via Adobe Stock

Most of us have the common sense to know what is patently wrong when behind the wheel—we know not to drive tired or intoxicated, to always use seatbelts and Facebook-ing while driving is a definite no-no.

However, we have all encountered incidents of careless or inconsiderate driving in our commutes, and while these episodes don’t often result in accidents, they are a definite nuisance and still potentially hazardous.

Careless or reckless driving can be defined as:

  • Driving dangerously  

  • Without due care and attention

  • Without reasonable consideration for other road users

Here are some bad driving habits we should all avoid to make our roads a safer and less stressful place:

1. Tailgating

Tailgating tops the list, and for obvious reasons—for a habit that is more often than not, intentionally aggressive driving, those guilty of tailgating should realise the increased risks of collision in doing so. Especially at higher speeds, more distance is needed between your vehicle and the one in front of you to buy reaction time for evasive action, in case there is an unexpected slow in traffic. Remember to leave a 3 second gap on the highway!

The less obvious aspect of tailgating is that it applies in heavy traffic too, especially on an incline. Being too close to the car in front of you may leave no margin for error if the car in front rolls back on a slope, inches away from your bumper.

2. Speed

We all know the popular adage—Speeding Kills. However, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson,“Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that's what gets you.” While it still remains true that driving at recklessly high speeds is indeed dangerous, driving below the speed limit, especially when you’re not on the slow lane, is just as irresponsible. Stay within 10kmh of the stated speed limit as a general rule to reduce the risk of accidents.

3. Freewheeling

Freewheeling is putting your car in neutral and letting it coast on its momentum. We all want to maximise our mileage on fuel, especially on long drives. There are a few ways to achieve that—going easy on the gas pedal, driving smoothly and improving your anticipation. Freewheeling however, isn't one of them.

With your car in neutral, no power is being sent to the wheels, which does save on gas, but also means an increased reaction time should you need to accelerate out of harm’s way. Additionally, with no drive to the wheels, there is a higher chance of your vehicle fishtailing out of control.

4. Rubbernecking

The infamous traffic-jam-accident is what this amounts to. There’s no denying it, we are a curious and nosy lot. The bigger the pile up, the more interested we are. It may sound obvious, but always be conscious of the cars behind you and that coming to a sudden halt is never a good idea on a highway. You may potentially be contributing to the mayhem, or at the very least, a massive traffic jam!

5. Being compromised

We know not to drink and drive, as alcohol compromises our reaction time, but our mental psyche plays a big role in how we behave on the road too. Some of us may be more prone to aggressive driving when angry or upset, becoming an obvious road risk, but the most insidious effects of driving emotionally compromised are that we aren’t mentally focused. While unwinding from a fight we just had, we may not realise that it had rained an hour ago, or that the sharp corner was taken a little too fast for a wet road.

The rest of the list can go on, but the overarching theme is often a simple mantra: avoid distractions on the road. Whether they come in the form of eating or doing makeup while driving, to texting behind the wheel, let’s all be more self-aware and conscientious to avoid being a road hazard.