Driving mistakes can cost you your life. Sure, you already know that texting while driving ranks near the top of the stupid driving mistakes anyone can make. Yet did you know that you make far more subtle errors every day? The next time, they might just turn deadly.
As far as the most common driver mistakes that we see every day, the single most dangerous thing people can do to each other behind the wheel is to bully the drivers around them by driving aggressively. It seems to me that these drivers account for a good deal of the accidents which I see around my hometown. The reasons and reactions are all summarized here in one article, though I plan to do a more thorough report on Aggressive driving in the very near future.
Today people are stretched and stressed to the breaking point every single day of the week. Monday through Friday, there are work issues and family things to deal with, then comes the weekend when we have to cram all of our fun into a seemingly shorter and shorter time slot every year. So what we are left with is a slew of overtired under-alert drivers who are making more and more of the most common driving mistakes every day. Here are the ten most common mistakes that I feel drivers tend to make when they get behind the wheel.
- Letting a Man ride Shotgun
The Cars website warns that teen drivers — of any gender — with a male passenger next to them routinely drive more aggressively. Interestingly, teenage girls also drive more aggressively if their front seat passenger is female. Teen boys without a male passenger drive less aggressively — even if a girl sits in the front as well. Who knew?
- Parenting from the Front Seat
You are driving, but junior demands a bottle, toy, snack, game, or tissue. You take your eyes off the road for a split second. This type of distracted driving causes you to miss the car ahead of you that just stopped on a dime.
- Speeding under Stress
Are you late for work, the daycare center, or a power lunch with the boss? It is tempting to step down on the accelerator just a bit more than the posted signs suggest. Yet Parenting Magazine warns that speeding causes 30 percent of deadly crashes.
- Multitasking like a Boss
Distracted driving is virtually synonymous with doing a whole lot of chores other than attending to the business of operating your motor vehicle. Shaving, making calls, applying makeup, eating, and programming the GPS are just a few examples of driving distractions that can cost you your life.
- Trusting the Mirrors
“Objects in the Rear View Mirror may appear closer than They Are” is not just a song by Meat Loaf. In fact, GMAC Insurance warns that those drivers who rely on their mirrors when backing up — but fail to take the judicious look over the shoulder — are at a high risk of encountering an object.
- Giving in to Coworker Pressure
Perhaps you are driving the carpool for your job. You slow down for a yellow light, but your coworker tells you to floor it. Listening to backseat drivers is another one of the stupid driving mistakes that result not only in expensive tickets but perhaps even the loss of your life.
Do not make any of these driving mistakes:
It may not seem like much, but ignoring some of the most basic driving courtesies will make up about a third of this list! The first one is not using the turn signal that was included in your car or truck shortly after. The first car accident claim was paid by the early insurance companies! Be a smart and thoughtful driver, and use those turn signals! It makes life last so much longer when we can avoid automobile crashes altogether!
Second is the fact that tailgating me will not get you to your destination any faster, that is, of course, unless you are heading for your “Final Destination,” which I am not. Please back off and give the people in front of you some room to breathe. If you really must be in front of me, then try and leave your house a little earlier than me next time!
Third is that silly little thing called “Stopping before turning” on a red light! So many people seem to have forgotten that this is not a “slow down and look” kind of maneuver. It is critical that you come to a complete stop. There are so many accidents as a result of this one little thing. Please slow down and take the time to come to a full and complete stop at every intersection with a right-on red sign. In fact, go to the light with the assumption that there is no such thing as right on red after stop, and when you see that there are no cars in the opposite turn lane, you know the one with the turning arrow and ultimately the right of way!
Fourth is the way to handle multiple cars at a four-way stop! The law states the first one there, or the car to your right goes first. Many times people hurtle up to the stop slamming on the brakes at the last instant so that it appears they got there first! This also makes it hard for them to come to a complete stop! Listen, people, relax. If you need to be somewhere at a certain time, look at a clock and subtract the time need to get there, and add ten minutes so you can avoid killing innocent strangers at a stop sign. And if you are on a bicycle, you have to obey all the same traffic laws as the cars, so STOP at the stop signs and traffic lights! After all, you are all about the exercise, not the bragging rights of how many miles you went, right?
The fifth thing people do wrong behind the wheel is to forget that we have to share the road with a lot of other traffic nowadays. For us, in Northeast Ohio, there are Amish buggies traveling many of our roads, even at night. There are so many incidents involving cars and buggies where the car driver was going too fast and came up on the very slow-moving buggy too quickly. This is just as complex as driving with bicycles on the shoulder. Especially when there is a blind hill or curve, and you need to slow to their speed until passing safely is possible.
The sixth thing that some drivers do, which is a mistake, is to drive in the rain with the wipers on but their headlights off. This is a huge mistake as visibility is decreased for you as well as the other drivers when it rains. In Ohio, it is a law that; if you have the wipers on, then the lights are supposed to be on! This gives people a bit more time to see you coming and react. I think the next thing I want to market on my eBay store will be a relay system that enables the lights when the wipers go on. Maybe this will go over so well that I can retire!
The seventh thing drivers forget about when driving is that focusing on the road is the primary objective; lighting smokes, drinking the big jumbo drink, and calling everyone you know to say, “can you hear me” is not making you a safer or a better driver! Sending people a text message is really dangerous while driving, and it is being banned in a number of locations across the state of Ohio.
The eighth most common mistake people make when driving is that they have no clue how to pass someone safely. Those funny yellow lines actually mean something! If you have a solid yellow line in your lane, then you cannot pass! If you have a solid yellow line in yours and I have one, too, then neither of us can pass! If you have a dashed yellow line in your lane, then you can pass if there is no oncoming traffic! Then you have to be able to complete the pass while the dashed lines are still in your lane. Plus, you have to stay within the speed limit. Otherwise, you are technically breaking the law. It is really simple.
The last thing on lines, if there is a white line to the right and there is only one lane, you cannot ride over the white line to pass other cars waiting at a traffic light. That is NOT a lane, and you WILL cause an accident one day. The person in front of you may be turning right, but they neglected to put on their turn signal! Plus, you may not see there is a car with a turn arrow or coming straight through the intersection. Just be patient and wait for your darn turn!
The ninth most common mistake drivers make is to think that jockeying in and out of traffic will get them there any faster than the rest of us. It will not. In fact, you will probably be the bag that causes a wreck that stops the rest of us from getting to work on time! Besides, if you were doing the speed limit, then we would not do not have this talk!
The tenth most annoying mistake drivers make to assume that it is your right to merge into a line of cars that was already waiting, and since you tore up alongside us on the side of the road outside the white lines, I must let you in! It is just not going to happen, brother! Wait your turn and drive like a sensible human being! Slow down and relax. If you are late and think I am on your way, then get up and leave the house earlier!
If you have forgotten how this whole safe driving thing works, you can go to the local Bureau or Department of Motor Vehicles and ask for a booklet on the laws in your state. Also, you can have the State Highway Patrol give you a refresher driver course in most states. Lastly, you could give up on learning this complex skill and either walk or take public transportation!