If you’ve been driving for a while, there’s a chance you’ve picked up a few bad driving habits. Unfortunately, those bad habits can lead to collisions, traffic citations, and other unfortunate outcomes. Here are five bad driving habits that even good drivers have, and how to break them.
Bad Driving Habit #1: Looking At Your Phone While Driving
Everybody knows texting and driving is dangerous. And yet, an estimated 660,000 people are driving while using a cell phone at any given moment.
A malfunctioning map app or important text alert might feel like an emergency that justifies taking a quick peek at the phone. But the truth is that distracted driving is dangerous. Over 3,000 people die every year because of it. It’s just not worth the risk.
Commit to a no-exceptions policy on using your phone while driving. If you need to do something on the phone, pull over somewhere safe. You could also:
Keep your phone somewhere inaccessible while driving.
Put your phone on airplane mode in the car.
Download a safe driving app like Drivemode, OnMyWay, or Safe 2 Save. These apps either disable your phone when you are going above 15 mph or reward you with points for not using the phone in the car.
Bad Driving Habit #2: Rolling Through Stop Signs
In driver’s ed, you learned to come to a full stop at every stop sign. But as time goes by, many drivers start to get lax about this rule.
Not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign is a dangerous habit. If you fail to see a car moving through the intersection, you could get t-boned. There could also be a police car parked out of sight, waiting to ticket drivers who fail to stop. That could result in a hefty traffic ticket fee.
Every time you come to a stop sign, stop fully. Save yourself a fee and don’t put speed above safety.
Bad Driving Habit #3: Failing to Use a Turn Signal
It’s easy to get lazy about using turn signals, but signaling before changing lanes or making a turn is an important part of being a safe driver. One study found that failing to use a turn signal contributes to over 2 million crashes a year.
Other drivers on the road need to know if you’re planning on moving into their lane or slowing down to make a turn so they can react safely to your movements. When you don’t use your turn signal, they have no way to know what you’re about to do.
When you’re tempted to skip hitting your turn signal, think about how much it’ll help the drivers around you. Be a good road citizen.
Bad Driving Habit #4: Speeding Up Through Yellow Lights
If it’s impossible to stop safely, speeding up through a yellow light is the safest choice. But most of the time, drivers who speed through yellows are just trying to save a few minutes. Hitting the accelerator when the light changes to yellow can be dangerous.
The problem is that if you don’t make it through the intersection before the light changes, it could cause a crash as other drivers get a green light.
When you see the light change, hit the brakes, unless you really, truly can’t stop safely. Yes, you’ll have to sit through another light cycle, but it’s worth it to avoid a collision.
Bad Driving Habit #5: Tailgating
It can be tempting to get right up on someone’s bumper in heavy traffic or stay too close to a slow driver ahead. But tailgating is a bad (and dangerous) habit.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent data, 32.5% of all collisions in 2019 were rear-end collisions. A little extra following distance could have prevented many of those collisions.
Not only that, but tailgating is aggressive to the driver in front of you. It can make them feel anxious or angry, or even tap the brakes to throw you off. Tailgating is bad driving.
Always leave at least one cars’ worth of following distance (or more if you are driving at high speeds or in dangerous conditions). If a driver ahead of you is moving too slowly, pass them when it’s safe to do so. In any situation, don’t tailgate.
Looking to break more bad driving habits? Consider taking our interactive defensive driving course as a safety refresher.
Want more driving tips? Check out our safe driving articles!