Ten Things You Should Never Do While Driving – Most Common Bad Driving Habits
We all know driving is dangerous. We also know there are a ton of terrible drivers out there. And yet, just about everyone claims they are a great driver and it’s everyone else that is terrible.
But if we’re being honest here, none of us are perfect drivers, and I say that as a certified driving instructor. I’m not perfect either.
So, while there are obvious things to avoid like drinking and driving or texting and driving, here is a list of to subtle things you should never do while driving, even though a LOT of people do it.
1 – Never Drive With Your Hands At 10 & 2 Position In Modern Cars
While younger drivers are taught the proper steering wheel hand positions, us old farts were taught a different way.
Most adults who have been driving for 20 years or longer have been taught to place their hands at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel. This is no longer the correct way to hold a steering wheel and you should never drive with your hands at the 10 and 2 positions in modern vehicles.
The NHTSA now recommends holding the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 OR the 4 and 8 positions on the steering wheel.
This is due to airbag deployment in modern cars. You can still keep just of good of control on the steering wheel with these new recommended positions, but you lower the risk of injury in an accident drastically by avoiding unwanted airbag impacts with your hands, wrists, and arms.
Driving can be a dangerous business. Every year, a shocking number of people lose their life or are severely injured while traveling in vehicles. Unfortunately, most people think of driving as a boring yet necessary task. Instead of paying attention to what they’re doing behind the wheel and what is going on around them, these drivers engage in a number of dangerous activities. How many of the following ten dangerous things do you do while driving?
2 – Never Drive With Two Feet
The obvious exception to this rule is when driving a manual transmission vehicle. For this one, we’re just talking about automatic transmission vehicles.
Some other exceptions are a bit less obvious, such as drivers with certain physical limitations. However, the VAST majority of drivers should never use two feet on the pedals while driving.
Have you ever been driving and see a car with its brake lights illuminated simply while driving down the street? Chances are, that’s a two-footed driver.
Two-footed drivers often unknowingly rest their left foot on the brake pedal just enough to activate the brake lights. In the worst cases, someone who drives with two feed will put tremendous strain on their entire brake system.
There is also something call the “two-footed panic.” During an emergency stop, many people who drive with two feet press down on both the gas pedal and brake pedal.
Those who drive with two feet are typically also more jerky in their driving, along with a multitude of other minor issues.
If you drive with two feet, get out of that habit right now.
3 – Never Put The Seatbelt Shoulder Strap Behind Your Back When Driving
Yeah, seatbelts are uncomfortable, but if you don’t wear it properly, you might as well not wear it at all. While pretty straightforward, your life and limb could depend on you knowing how to wear a seatbelt properly, so taking the 2 minutes to read this guide isn’t a terrible idea.
Having the shoulder strap behind your back is illegal in most places, and will get you the same citation as not having the seatbelt on at all. You need to be wearing the seatbelt as it was intended.
If the shoulder strap is uncomfortable for you, there are many accessories you can buy to make it more comfortable, such as locking the seatbelt in a looser position (not recommended but better than having the shoulder strap behind your back), or specially designed cushions to make make it more comfortable.
Bottom line, wear your seatbelt as it was designed.
4 – Never Drive In The Left Lane Of An Expressway Unless You’re Passing
Many people call the left lane of the expressway the “fast lane” but I don’t like that term. Just because you’re going “fast” doesn’t mean that’s the lane you should be in. The left lane is the “passing lane”. It’s used for PASSING.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but those exceptions are obvious. Moving over for a stopped emergency vehicle on the right shoulder, needing to take a left-hand exit ramp, using an HOV (high occupancy vehicle or otherwise known as carpool) lane, etc.
However, in general, you should never drive in the left lane unless you are actually passing or about to pass someone. Always move back over to the right if you’re not passing.
Most of us don’t like “left lane hogs”, and yet, there are so many left lane hogs out there. Could that hog be you?! If so, knock it off!
5 – Never Drive Next To A Large Vehicle Longer Than You Have To
As a former truck driver, I just can’t stress this enough. Stay the hell away from large vehicles.
I don’t care if you’re driving in a congested city, country road, or open highway – give large vehicles as much room as possible.
Not only are there huge blind spots to contend with, but large vehicles are prone to mechanical mishaps that can give you a very bad day.
For example, do you ever see shredded tires on highways? Of course you do. That’s because large trucks have tire blowouts ALL – THE – TIME. You do NOT want to be near a truck when that happens.
Those slabs of rubber can smash through your windshield, and if a truck blows a steer tire, it could send the truck sharply into your lane with zero warning.
There are so many reasons to give large vehicles a lot of space that this could be an entire article on its own. Just give them room.
6 – Never Assume Railroad Tracks Are Safe To Cross
Most driver’s cross railroad tracks without a care in the world. If the lights aren’t flashing, people drive right on by.
But if railroad crossing lights are so reliable, than why do busses and trucks carrying hazardous cargo need to stop at every crossing by law?
Because those railroad crossing lights are NOT that reliable.
Sure, let’s say they work 99% of the time. That means if 100 trains go through that crossing every month, the crossing lights will fail 12 times per year.
To be fair, the failure rate is much lower than that, but they are certainly not 100% safe. They can and do fail all the time, and trust me, you don’t want to have an accident with a train. You’ll lose every time.
Look, listen, and live is the campaign most of us have heard before, but do you actually do it?
When approaching railroad tracks, slow down, look down the tracks to see if there are any trains coming, and listen for any possible trains that are close by.
7 – Never Drive With Cruise Control In Heavy Rain, Snow, Or Ice
Cruise control is pretty great. Many people are too nervous to use cruise control, but for those of us who drive long distances on occasion, it makes driving much more comfortable.
There are some situations you should never use cruise control, however. This is mostly the case when driving in rain, snow, or ice. Cruise control is not designed to handle these road conditions and can cause your vehicle to lose control.
8 – Never Wave Someone Through Traffic
Most of us try our best to be courteous drivers, but there are times being too nice can actually cause a very dangerous situation.
When you are stopped in traffic, it is courteous to leave space if there is a driveway, side street, or business entrance. This enables people turning into or out of that area enough space so they don’t need to wait for traffic to move and unblock the area they need to go.
While it is a great idea (and often legally required) to leave that gap, you should never, ever, ever direct anyone through. Many car accidents occur at these types of intersections because someone got waved through traffic, only to get struck by a vehicle driving down another lane or on the shoulder of the road.
You do not want to be responsible for someone else. Let them proceed when they feel it is safe, not when you say so.
9 – Never Escalate A Road Rage Situation
Here’s the truth most people don’t like to admit – we ALL get road rage. Yes, even your grandma. If you don’t ever get road rage, there’s a pretty decent chance you’re not human.
It is critically important that you keep your composure while driving. Many accidents, injuries, and even deaths occur because someone made a dumb decision in a moment of rage – like brake checking another vehicle, cutting another vehicle off out of revenge, etc.
You should also never engage with anyone who is actively engaging in road rage. Get as far away from them as possible.
Road rage can make otherwise pretty reasonable people lose their minds. Violence and even shootings happen very frequently in road rage events. You never know who you’re dealing with, and winning such a petty ego battle is not worth it.
Let them “win” and move on with your life. You’ll be over it by the end of the day.
10 – Never Drive On Medications Without Reading The Warning Label First
Did you know that you can get a DUI charge without ever drinking any alcohol or doing any illegal drugs? Prescription and even some over-the-counter drugs are enough to land you in jail with a DUI charge.
This is not some far-fetched situation that never happens. People are arrested for DUI all the time after taking prescription drugs.
In fact, if you’re in a serious accident and you’re found to have been “under the influence” of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, you could be charged with some very serious crimes exceeding DUI (manslaughter, reckless endangerment, etc.).
Seriously, if you start taking a new medication check with your doctor and read the warning label. If there is any doubt, do not drive.
10 Ridiculous Things People Do All The Time While Driving
Now that we’ve covered some of the less obvious things you should never do while driving, let’s go over some more obvious driving habits you should never engage in.
This is a list of much more obvious things to never do while driving. We’ve heard these before, but I’ll be damned if people still do these things all the time.
Please, take an honest assessment of yourself. Are you guilty of any of these things? If so, please take some responsibility and stop doing it.
1. Texting While Driving & Surfing The web.
Unless you have reflexes that rival that of a jet fighter pilot, you cannot text or surf the web safely while driving.
Typing on a little phone or looking at your friend’s latest Facebook status update on the screen means you won’t see the car that just slammed on its brakes in front of you, or the little kid crossing the street. Leave your phone in your pocket or purse and take it out once the car is stopped.
2. Disciplining Children While Driving
Any parent knows that their snot-nosed kid can become unruly from time to time in the car (I know, you love your kid, but let’s be honest kids have a lot of snot in – and out – of their noses).
Perhaps it’s because they know their parents are busy and cannot discipline them as easily, but it creates an incredibly dangerous scenario. If you are disciplining your children while you are supposed to be driving, at least the majority if not all of your attention will be on what’s going on inside the vehicle and not on what’s going on outside.
The better way to handle the situation is to pull over, take care of the behavioral issues, and then continue on your way.
3. Getting Dressed While Driving
Does anyone seriously not get this? Apparently, there are some individuals who are so incredibly busy they cannot possibly get dressed before leaving their home and getting into their car.
It’s almost impossible to steer a vehicle and keep your eyes on what’s going on ahead while pulling on a shirt, and you simply cannot keep even one hand on the steering wheel while tying knots or performing other tasks related to dressing.
Think this is uncommon? My years as a truck driver proved differently. Sitting that high in a vehicle gave me a unique angle of what’s going on in peoples cars, and the number of people literally getting dressed going down the road was baffling.
4. Applying Makeup Or Shaving While Driving.
Yeah, this is even more common than getting dressed while driving. Maybe you think it’s ridiculous, but someone reading this is guilty of it, because it happens every day in every major city in the United States.
Again, doing either of these activities takes your attention from the road, where it should always be while you’re driving. Putting on eyeliner requires you to literally look up, while shaving requires you to move your head around. Both activities should be done either before you leave your house or after you get where you’re headed.
5. Eating A Taco, Ice Cream Cone Or Other Foods.
The vast majority of us are guilty of eating while driving. But did you know eating while driving is illegal in most places? You can receive a distracted driving ticket for even scarfing down those easy-to-eat french fries.
Even though it’s illegal, most of us can manage to eat something simple like a burger while driving. There are some foods that are just plain dangerous for anyone to eat while driving though.
Tacos are notorious because they’re messy and fall apart when you bite into them, which is too much of a distraction. Stay away from overly greasy foods as well since the grease can make it difficult to really grip the steering wheel. Remember that if you do decide to eat behind the wheel, in an emergency situation you must be prepared to throw your food to your front passenger and take the wheel with both hands immediately.
6. Leaning Over To Reach For Something
Too often people drop something onto the floorboards, need a piece of gum out of their purse that’s sitting on the backseat, or feel the need to go through the glove box while driving.
Reaching so far to grab something that you lose sight of the vehicle’s surroundings is as bad as placing your hand over your eyes while driving down the road.
People also tend to unknowingly swerve or move the steering wheel in the direction they are reaching.
Not to mention, can you imagine what would happen if you got into an accident while reaching and bent over? Say hello to lifelong injuries.
7. Driving While Sleep Deprived
Driving while drowsy is incredibly dangerous. You might think that drinking coffee or an energy drink, rolling down the windows, chewing gum, or blasting loud music will keep you from dozing off, but the sad truth is many people fall asleep at the wheel while trying these tricks.
You should also be aware of microsleep while driving. When we are very tired, we don’t necessarily fall asleep for long periods of time. We can also experience what is known as microsleep. This is where we fall asleep for mere seconds at a time, but it can happen hundreds of times in an hour.
When you experience microsleep while driving, this is as dangerous or even more dangerous than drinking and driving.
If you do feel tired, find somewhere safe to park and get some sleep before continuing on.
8. Drinking Alcohol And Driving
“Don’t drink and drive.”
Duh. We’ve all heard this hundreds of times, and we all know it’s dumb, selfish, illegal, and incredibly dangerous to drink and drive.
And yet, every single day, 28 people die in the united states as a result of drinking and driving.
Sadly, some people still don’t get this one. Alcohol has an effect on your motor skills and judgment, meaning you just plain don’t drive well when buzzed, even though most people driving drunk believe they are driving fine.
If you plan on driving, simply avoid drinking. Have a zero-tolerance policy with yourself. It’s just the responsible and right thing to do.
9. Steering With Your Knees While Driving
This is another obvious thing to never do while driving, and yet, it happens in every city across the United States every day. Unfortunately, certain individuals feel the need to perform two-handed tasks while driving, which is why they use their knees to steer.
The only problem is your knees don’t grip the steering wheel and cannot control the car nearly as well. All it would take is one big pothole to make the car careen out of control. Or imagine a child or pet running in front of your car. Not to be overly dramatic, but the time it takes to get your hands back on the wheel is long enough to cost a life.
10. Having An Emotional Phone Conversation.
In some areas, talking on the phone while driving is illegal, even with a hands-free device.
If you live in an area where it’s not illegal, you should most definitely avoid having an emotionally-charged conversation while driving. Studies have shown that people who are having an in-depth, emotional talk on the phone while behind the wheel actually drive as poorly as people who are legally drunk.