It’s that time of the year when people decide to better themselves in different areas of life. These changes can range from fitness and wellness to finance and career, but what about bad driving habits?
This is a good moment for motorists to remember that having a licence doesn’t mean free reign on the roads. There are rules to abide by. Like many drivers, new or seasoned, it’s easy for certain bad habits to creep into your driving. Though some of these might not seem very serious, bad habits can lead to damaging your car, and disrupting other drivers.
If you find yourself to be guilty of most common bad driving habits, here are seven that need to be given the boot for 2023 when you get behind the wheel…
Rallying over speed bumps and potholes
Many drivers get on the roads and believe their compact city car or executive saloon is tough enough to tackle it all. Alas, potholes and speed bumps are here to challenge, and, unfortunately, this is a losing battle.
The 2021 Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey revealed that England has a major potholes crisis. Furthermore, around nine in 10 drivers (89%) were affected by potholes during 2020, according to road safety charity IAM Roadsmart’s annual Safety Culture Report.
With poor road maintenance in many areas of the country, potholes aren’t just a nuisance for drivers, they also pose safety risks and damage for motorists and their vehicles. Hitting a pothole can cause cracked alloys, buckled wheels, and faults with tracking and wheel balance.
Whilst not all potholes are easy to spot, where possible, you should avoid driving over them completely, or slow down to an almost-halt position when taking on potholes. If you do find that a pothole has caused damage to your vehicles, you can report the pothole and claim for damage.
Similarly, with speed bumps popping up more than ever before, it’s highly recommended that you slow down to go over them. Otherwise, you may experience damage to the front and rear of the car as well as the underside, and possibly the exhaust system.
Resting your hand on the gearstick
Some people think it’s “cool” whilst others do it out of, you guessed it, habit. Resting your hand on the gearstick – as comfortable or second nature as you may find it – can be bad for the vehicle’s transmission.
The gearstick is essential to the healthy functionality of any car that has one. It is connected to the selector fork which works with the rotating collar for some time.
By resting your hand on the gearstick, you may unknowingly apply pressure to the selector fork. This could very well lead to premature wear.
Often, your car’s manual may explicitly instruct you to not rest your hand on the gearstick. It’s worth re-visiting and reading to make sure.
Weighing the car down by overloading
Although boot space is one of the specs that most drivers now look out for in new cars, the maximum capacity is just that – full! Manufacturers have become more adept at including large capacities to accommodate heavier and bulkier loads. But this isn’t an excuse to overload.
In any case, you can find out the car’s maximum loading capabilities in the owner’s manual. This information will tell you exactly how much the car can carry in total, including passengers and luggage.
If you’re relying on your car for any big moves or road trips, it’s always good to consult the manual. Why? Because if you exceed the capacity, you’ll be putting extra strain on the car’s suspension, the brakes, and the drivetrain.
The car’s on-road performance and the passengers’ overall comfort will both be affected.
If you’re somebody who leaves their gym gear, hiking goods, or even your golf clubs in the car, it’s likely that this won’t add any kind of pressure to the vehicle’s parts. However, it could impact the fuel economy and emissions so where possible, it is recommended to drive as light as possible.
Dazzling drivers with high beams
There’s a time and a place for high beams and after dark just for fun is not it. You’ve likely been at the receiving end of blinding high beams coming towards you from the opposite side of the road. And you’ve probably cursed the car in that moment!
Of course, there are some situations in which your high beams will be helpful, such as when there’s poor visibility. Even then, drivers should alternate between high beam and dipped headlights depending on whether another car is approaching.
What we’re trying to convey is that using the high beams persistently, especially when there is no justified use for them, can be highly dangerous for other road users. You might think it’s ok but the driver in front of you can get distracted vision from the reflection of your high beams in their mirrors.
Similarly, oncoming motorists on the opposite side will be dazzled from the powerful high beams too. Instead of rendering others to the point of feeling blindfolded, let’s cast this bad habit away!
Braking like you’re in Fast and Furious
It’s time to break (pun intended) it to you; life is not a Fast and Furious film – and there’s no need for anyone to be driving – or in this case, braking – like Vin Diesel in a street race. If you’re guilty of sprinting it down the dual carriageway and then coming to a screeching halt as you approach the roundabout or traffic lights, this one’s for you.
Vehicle status and driving competence is not measured by how loud and fast you can rev the engine and come to a shrieking stop. It’s just not needed. What you CAN do for the benefit of your car and the safety of yourself, and other drivers is to drive responsibly where you can achieve a smooth halt when you need to stop.
Your brakes are there to be used properly. When you see traffic lights, or you’re approaching a give way, a zebra crossing, or you need to get off at the next junction, use your brakes to reduce your speed. This gives you and other motorists the time to prepare and adjust for a stop or slowing down ahead.
What you should avoid doing is slamming on the brakes and especially doing it last minute. This is an accident waiting to happen. In addition, driving like this causes aggressive wear and tear to the brakes and the car – which is impressive to no one.
Not using your indicators
We can all agree that it takes some real skill and patience to get your driver’s licence. But one thing that the licence doesn’t gift us with is the ability to read other drivers’ minds. Still, many motorists drive like being on the roads is a guessing game. They believe that other drivers can predict their movements and know which way they’re turning. Reality check: we absolutely can’t!
And, this is why, cars come with indicators. It’s also why your driving instructor will have drilled it in you to use these indicators at any point you’re going to be turning, changing lanes, or stopping to park and so on.
That’s right. They’re not just ornaments. Indicators let other drivers – and pedestrians – know of your intentions. Get into the habit of indicating, even when the roads are empty. That one flick up or down to signal left or right can be just the thing needed to avoid any unwanted collisions.
Drinking and driving is NOT cool
This one goes without saying: don’t drink and drive. If you’re trying dry January, aim to adopt a safer approach to driving too. Whether you’re going “out out” club hopping or meeting some friends for a casual evening of drinks, avoid thinking you’ll be fine to drive yourself home because you “just had one”.
Though drink-driving casualties have fallen over the years, the latest National Statistics revealed that 13% of all on-road fatalities on UK roads are a result of drink driving.
Several charities and road safety organisations have called for stricter laws on what qualifies as drinking below the legal limit.
To be on the safe side – and the right side of the law – if you know you’ll be having a drink, the most responsible thing is to not drive and arrange for alternative mode of transport to get home.
…more bad driving habits to boot in 2022:
- Smoking whilst you’re driving
- Not wearing your seatbelt
- Riding the brake or clutch
- Throwing things out of the car window and littering the roads
- Being on your mobile phone including sending texts
- Looking in the visor mirror to do your hair or makeup whilst driving