Courtesy of topspeed.com
Developing bad habits comes easy once you’re no longer a beginner driver. It may be as subtle as driving with one hand to being as crude as taking your eyes off the road. Whichever the case, it’s important to understand that driving is a serious affair, and sharing roads with strangers will never always be business as usual. Awareness of your surroundings, doing the right thing while on the road, and being mindful of other motorists and pedestrians is encouraged. So, if you’re guilty of any of the following bad driving habits, it’s time to break the cycle.
10. Not Using Your Turn Signal
If you’re frequently on the road, you probably understand how important acting right is for you and other road users. And yet, most Americans fail to use turn signals correctly. Why so? It’s annoying to the drivers behind you and dangerous at unsafe separation distances and intersections. It’s also considered illegal in most states and may attract a fine or ticket from law enforcement officers.
Turn signals are how drivers communicate while on the road to inform other drivers of their intentions. Instead of appearing out of merging into lanes out of the blue, using a blinker will help improve safety on the road by letting other drivers know that you intend to merge, exit, make a left or right turn, or change lanes. It’s just courtesy.
This is defined as the act of closely trailing the vehicle in front of you by matching its speed and movement. Not only is this illegal, but it’s also dangerous since there’s a higher risk of rear-ending the other car in case it brakes unexpectedly. Most tailgaters are either oblivious to the risks involved or do it because they are in a rush, impatient, or think the vehicle in front is lane hogging.
To avoid being a tailgater, keeping a three-second driving distance behind the vehicle in front in low-traffic conditions is advisable. The space between you and the other vehicle should be further away if you’re behind a truck or in bad driving conditions, such as icy roads. This distance is essential in helping avoid collisions by ensuring your reaction time allows your car to stop safely.
To avoid being a tailgater, keeping a three-second driving distance behind the vehicle in front in low-traffic conditions is advisable.
8. Rolling Through Stop Signs
Most of us have do this often if not daily. You approach a stop sign, you slow down while checking your visibility area to confirm there’s no traffic all while slowly moving forward. This is morally and legally wrong. Take stop signs for what they are and bring your vehicle to a halt before proceeding. Rolling through stops or even worse, blowing through them, especially at intersections, increases the chances of another ignorant driver crashing into you.
Stop signs are there to ensure the safe use of the road by all traffic at any time of the day. And since you won’t come across a speed hump to slow traffic before at a stop sign on primary roads, it’s best to play safe than roll through a stop. At intersections, give yourself at least three seconds after stopping to check for any oncoming or speeding traffic. It’s not that hard.
7. Driving Too Slow Or Too Fast
Speed essentially helps in maintaining a uniform and predictable movement on roads. That’s why there are different speed limits on collector roads, parkways, highways, and freeways. Whether you are required to drive below 15 mph or not more than 80 mph, adhering to these speed limits is essential, but what’s even more important is being aware of your driving environment. Ask yourself, does my car match the speed limit? Am I driving too fast? Am I too slow? Am I supposed to be moving at this speed in this lane?
Self-questioning and judging will more than help you answer these questions. You ought to know that driving too fast or way above the speed limit puts your life and that of other road users at risk in case anything goes wrong. You should also be aware that driving too slow, especially on the fast lane, even when you’re just under the speed limit, holds up traffic and is unkind to those who intend to use that lane for its intended purpose.
6. Weaving In And Out Of Traffic
We’ve all seen them, drivers that seem to be either in a hurry to get to their destination or simply love annoying other drivers around them. Unless you are on a race track, weaving through regular traffic in undesignated areas is frowned upon. It does not matter how skilled you are at changing lanes; one slight mistake could lead to a minor or major collision.
In low-traffic scenarios, weaving at high speeds may seem all fun, but it puts your life in danger since you can’t accurately predict the behavior of motorists ahead or behind you at such speeds. In high and moderate traffic, you increase the chances of other vehicles colliding in case they have to brake unexpectedly for you to merge. Remember, you are probably sharing the road with less experienced or less skilled drivers, so for safety purposes, it’s best to avoid weaving.
5. Blocking Zipper Mergers
We can agree not all drivers are great at merging. And you’ve probably seen someone unskillfully merging into a highway while completely disregarding timing and speed. In the worst case scenarios, the merging vehicle gets rear-ended, or the other vehicle has to swerve to avoid an accident. Okay, we can probably blame that on the lack of skill. However, the worst of merging habits would be blocking zipper mergers since vehicle speed and timing don’t necessarily play a part here.
Situations like road work demand some lanes to be blocked. It’s okay to merge early into the open lane when there’s low traffic. However, in moderate to high traffic, drivers are encouraged to use both lanes and allow zipper mergers. A zipper merge intends to reduce traffic backlog so no one is trying to cut you off. Therefore, once you’re in the open lane around the merging area, it’s ethical for drivers in the open lane to leave room for those in the blocked lane to merge in an alternating fashion.
Local example of a zipper merger – The three-mile bridge in Pensacola.
Some drivers will say they do not entirely understand what undertaking is and, as a result, find no fault in their actions. So, let’s start with the basics of passing or overtaking. Passing is legally done on the left lane on a dual-lane road or on the inner lane on a multi-lane highway or freeway. This is a rule all drivers must follow to enhance safe and efficient road use.
So, when you go against this basic rule of passing on the left, say you pass a vehicle while speeding on the right lane, you’re undertaking. It’s generally risky since most drivers expect you to come up on their left. Though it’s not entirely illegal to undertake, especially on multi-lane roads, it’s often discouraged. A more unpleasant driving habit is undertaking on the shoulder. If you often undertake, it’s time to unlearn.
3. Territorial Driving
Being territorial is part of who we are as a people. On the road, for instance, it might stem from an inner instinct to protect your car or set genuine or non-existing boundaries. This is why you’ll see some drivers on the road act up simply because you are trying to merge or because you honked at them because they are in the wrong.
Being territorial on the road does more harm than good. It makes you an aggressive driver, sometimes pisses off other motorists, and could likely instigate road rage. It’s best for everyone if we’re accommodative in our driving. The road has enough space for us all, and sharing it respectfully means less chaos on roads so everyone can get to where they are going.
2. Driving Under The Influence
When shall we learn? Driving means serious business, the kind we cannot afford to mix with pleasure. And yes, some may protest that they have a high alcohol tolerance and that a couple of shots or bottles of beer does not affect their sobriety while driving; however, statistics don’t lie. In a world where truth can quickly be dismissed as hearsay, we can always lean on facts and statistics to bring the point home.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2021 out of 42,939 fatalities from road accidents, 13,384 of the deaths were alcohol-related. This was a 14 percent increase from 2020’s figures, 11,654 deaths, translating to 37 people lost to alcohol-related crashes daily. These are wild figures, and it’s unbelievable that the same alcohol that rises your spirits also sends many to their early graves. If you’re guilty of this bad driving habit, it’s up to you to stop giving alcohol a bad name.
2021 out of 42,939 fatalities from road accidents, 13,384 of the deaths were alcohol-related.
1. Distracted Driving
This is by far the worst of bad driving habits, one that has less to do with a driver’s personality and more with being absent or giving your steering wheel divided attention. And while most of us are guilty of this trait or have at least multitasked while driving at some point, it’s a habit that needs serious discussion. The distractions can range from texting, attending to your kids, fetching that beer from the cooler, or even to the more extreme, fondling or being playful with your partner while driving.
Any form of distraction that will take your concentration and eyes off the road is discouraged, and it’s easy to get the reason behind it. Distracted driving has been one of the leading causes of road fatalities, claiming about 3,522 lives in 2021 alone. It could be labeled worse than driving under the influence since it’s ignorant not to keep your eyes on the road with a sober mind. IIHS reports that currently, there are bans against texting, calling, or using hand-held devices by drivers across most states, which is a step in the right direction. But the best move starts with you being more mindful and avoiding distractions.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.
It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.
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