Operating a motor vehicle safely and avoiding car accidents requires constant attention and carefulness. But, as pretty much anyone will admit, it is easy to pick up a bad driving habit that can increase the likelihood of getting into a collision. Even more frustrating is how hard it can be to put bad habits down. Knowing about those habits, some of which you might have done yourself without realizing, is the first step in stopping them. Together, we can all make a real, effective effort to make the roadways safer and minimize the number of car accidents and injuries each year.
Here are 10 of the worst and most common bad habits drivers exhibit, not in any particular order:
- Texting: Distracted driving is a serious issue that seems to only worsen each year as more and more drivers get smartphones and young people get driver’s licenses. Whenever you are in the car, you must make a habit of keeping your cellphone in your pocket – out of sight, out of mind. You should also not regularly use hands-free devices, like Bluetooth headsets or built-in speakers in your dashboard, as National Safety Council (NSC) studies have found that such devices do nothing to actually help prevent distracted driving accidents.
- Talking: Whenever a passenger is in a vehicle, it is nearly a guarantee that the driver will engage in conversation with them. While chatting with friends in your vehicle can be fun and seems natural, it is a real distraction. If people talking in your vehicle get too noisy, you should ask them to be quieter or wait until you are at a complete stop.
- Eating: Businessmen and businesswomen across the country grab quick meals on the way out the door and to the office. Snacking on the go might seem like a good way to save time for the busy professional or student, but it is really just increases the chances of getting into a car accident. Save your meal for when you first arrive if you must.
- Grooming: Applying makeup or moisturizer, picking at random hairs, checking for acne or blemishes the mirror, and other forms of grooming are all massively distracting. Just as how a meal can wait until you arrive at your destination, so can personal grooming. The 60 seconds you can save by doing so in your car are simply not worth the risk you take.
- Adjusting: There are plenty of settings in your vehicle that can be adjusted with knobs, dials, and buttons. Glancing down for a moment to change the radio station, choose a new song on your mp3 player, crank down the air conditioning, and so forth may be all it takes to get into a collision. Any adjustments should be saved for red lights and stop signs.
- Speeding: One of the most common traffic citations in the country is speeding. Pay attention to speed limit signs and stick to them. If you travel the highway frequently, do not be tempted to speed just because many other cars around you are speeding as well. Stay safe and adhere to the limits. Also, do not rush through yellow lights. Remember that a ‘yellow’ means you should stop if possible, not continue if possible.
- Yawning: Getting sleepy or exhausted behind the wheel can cause debilitation similar to intoxication, especially in extreme measures. If you know that you are going to be on the road particularly late or early for a trip, you may want to consider renting a hotel room in the area to prevent yourself from having to drive tired. On long road trips, see if you can arrange taking turns driving with passengers.
- Tailgating: Remember the 3-second rule when traveling at lower speeds and the 5-second rule when traveling at high speeds. That is to say, keep between 3 seconds and 5 seconds of time between the front of your car and the back of the car ahead of you. The resulting distance should allow you to stop safely in case of a sudden braking event.
- Raging: Various forms of road rage can be contributing factors in many car accidents. Try your best to be courteous to others, accept that people make mistakes, and stay calm while driving. A clear head will help you quickly react to hazards, whereas anger slows down your thinking process and may even influence you into driving recklessly.
- Drinking: Perhaps the top offender on this list of common bad driving habits is drinking and driving. While most people do not try to drive after getting heavily intoxicated, many people are guilty of driving home after just one or two drinks. The problem is that it only takes one alcoholic beverage to diminish your driving abilities. Please plan ahead whenever drinking to avoid drunk driving, or rely on ridesharing services and taxis.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by a negligent driver, it is highly likely that one of the aforementioned 10 bad driving habits was a contributing factor. Contact Erskine & McMahon LLP and our Longview car accident attorneys to go over your rights as a wrongfully injured party, what evidence can be used to boost your claim’s chances of success, and how to file a personal injury claim in pursuit of compensation. With our guidance and advocacy, you may be able to achieve a full recovery for all your damages.