The World Health Organization estimates that 1.24 million people die on the world’s roads every year. Objectively, many of the most dangerous driving habits behind this number are risks that aren’t worth taking. Risking life and limb in a car accident is really not worth saving a few minutes, sending a text, changing the radio station, or eating breakfast.
Dangerous driving habits, however, are still too common among drivers. Here are seven of these dangerous habits, why they’re dangerous, and steps you can take to break these habits and make the road a safer place.
Distracted driving is dangerous driving
With the prevalence of cellular phones and the emergence of text messaging, as well as the availability of entertainment through cell phones and terrestrial or satellite radio, motorists are finding it more difficult to stay focused on the road. Don’t forget the traditional driving distractions – eating, drinking or grooming, either.
For communication, automotive companies have developed ways to talk hands-free on your phone, but you should still ignore texts and alerts while behind the wheel. How can you effectively manage your entertainment? If you are pulling music from your phone, you can create playlists. The traditional distractions are an easy fix: take care of business before getting behind the wheel.
Failure to signal
You may not think you need to signal every turn or lane change, but it only takes one oversight and you could end up in trouble. At the very least, it is a general courtesy to signal your intent to other drivers; predictability is essential for traffic safety. Many times, the only warning other motorists have is your turn signal before you make a move. Using your turn signal consistently is as simple as putting in a bit of effort — try to remember to always signal. Before long, it will happen naturally.
Failure to yield
Many mishaps could be avoided if everyone yielded to the proper right-of-way. From stop signs and red lights to merge ramps on freeways, unpredictability in yielding is dangerous. Learning the rules pertaining to right-of-ways and always yielding to traffic lights and signs is crucial for safety.
Whether you’re late or not paying attention, following another car at a close distance is dangerous driving. Tailgating either results from of a lack of perceived danger in doing so, or an aggressive form of road-rage-related intimidation. Don’t overestimate your reflexes – all it takes is one sudden brake by the car in front of you. In acknowledging this and respecting an assured clear distance, you’re making the roadways safer. If it’s road rage, you should relax and remember that whatever the driver of that car in front of you has done, it probably wasn’t personal, and taking the high road is the safest bet.
When you combine speeding or tailgating with a general disregard for the rules of the road, you end up with a dangerous situation. Breaking away from the habit of weaving in and out of lanes, drifting, and driving like you’re in a race requires a change in attitude. Start leaving early if you’re in a hurry, and try to remember that you’re not the only person on the road.
Driving tired or intoxicated
The dangers of drinking and driving are well documented and the punishments for doing so can be incredibly harsh, but sadly, it still happens. I don’t need to tell you that you should know better.
But, did you know that tired driving is potentially just as dangerous? When you’re tired, your reaction times are slower. If it’s impossible to fight it off and you fall asleep, you probably won’t do anything to avoid a crash – even at the last second. If you’re tired, find a rest area or a safe place to take a nap. You may end up being late, but it’s a small sacrifice for safety.
Failing to respect weather conditions
You may have seen cars in a ditch or spinning out on ice or snow due to a lack of caution. Sometimes, heeding the weather report and planning accordingly is the only step you need to take to avoid this danger. If you do get stuck in the car during a storm, it helps to take to your time and be safe. No-one will blame you for being late if you’ve driven through a storm.
Breaking these and other dangerous driving habits depends mostly on you. If you can manage it, then you’ll be making the road a safer place for everyone.