5 Bad Driving Habits and How to Break Them
We all have bad habits. Things we do without even thinking about them that can be frustrating, costly, or just plain annoying. The same goes for bad driving habits. But unlike many of our personal bad habits, bad driving habits can have serious consequences. Not only are they annoying to other drivers, but they can also increase your risk of having an accident.
The good news is, however, that breaking these bad driving habits is easier than you might think. Here are five of the most common bad driving habits shared by drivers throughout the UK, as well as tips on how to get rid of them for good!
1. Not checking your blind spots
Failing to check your blind spots is one of the most common bad driving habits out there, especially for those who haven’t had much driving experience. Checking your blind spots is essential for safe driving, yet many drivers still don’t do it regularly.
Blind spots are the areas around your car that you can’t see in your mirrors. Before you change lanes or pull out, it’s important to check your blind spots to make sure there are no other cars, cyclists, or pedestrians in the way.
The best way to break this habit is to make a conscious effort to check your blind spots. To do this, simply turn your head and look over your shoulder before changing lanes or pulling out into traffic. It only takes a second and could save you and others from an accident.
Tailgating refers to following another vehicle too closely, which leaves little to no room for error or reaction time if the car in front of you suddenly stops.
If the driver in front of you has to brake suddenly then you could easily collide with them, causing serious damage to both vehicles and potentially injuring yourself or your passengers.
To avoid tailgating, make sure you’re leaving enough space between your car and the one in front of you, keeping stopping distances in mind. Stopping distances vary depending on the speed you’re travelling at, the road conditions, reaction speed, and more, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
As a general guide, the Highway Code recommends the following:
20mph – 12 metres (40 feet) (3 car lengths)
30mph – 23 metres (75 feet) (6 car lengths)
40mph – 36 metres (118 feet) (9 car lengths)
50mph – 53 metres (175 feet) (13 car lengths)
60mph – 73 metres (240 feet) (18 car lengths)
70mph – 96 metres (315 feet) (24 car lengths)
Remember, these are only guidelines and you should account for conditions such as wet weather which will increase the time it takes to brake.
3. Turning without indicating
Not signalling when you’re about to turn is not only annoying to other drivers, but it can also be very dangerous. When you don’t signal that you’re turning or changing lanes, other drivers have no way of knowing what you’re about to do.
You can be charged with careless driving if you’re caught not signalling, so it’s definitely something you want to avoid.
To break this bad habit, make a conscious effort to signal every time you turn or change lanes. It may seem like a small thing, but it could make a big difference in preventing an accident.
4. Running a red light
No matter how tempting it may be to run a red light, it’s definitely not worth the risk. Not only is it against the law, but it’s also incredibly dangerous.
Running a red light can easily lead to an accident, especially if there are other cars, cyclists, or pedestrians in the intersection. Driving through a red light can be extremely dangerous, as you’re essentially putting yourself and others at risk of a collision. Not to mention, it’s also against the law and you could be fined if you’re caught.
Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you’re also endangering the lives of other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Failing to stop at a red light could result in a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence.
5. Driving in the wrong lane
Lane discipline is important for keeping traffic flowing smoothly and reducing the risk of accidents. Unfortunately, it’s a habit that many drivers are guilty of not following.
If you find yourself constantly driving in the middle lane, weaving in and out of lanes, or cutting off other drivers, then you need to work on your lane discipline.
One of the best ways to improve your lane discipline is to be more aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the cars around you and only switch lanes when it’s necessary.
Follow the Highway Code’s advice on lane discipline and only use the middle and right lanes when you’re overtaking or turning right, returning to the left-hand lane as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Dangerous driving habits
Some bad habits pose a serious threat to both you and other drivers on the road. Here are a few more driving habits that could land you in hot water:
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is never a good idea. It slows your reaction time, impairs your judgement and puts you and everyone else on the road in danger.
If you’re caught driving under the influence, you could be facing 6 months in prison, an unlimited fine and a driving ban. You could also get a criminal record, affecting your job prospects and travel plans.
So, if you’re going to drink, make sure you leave the car at home. Use public transport, call a taxi or ask a friend to be your designated driver for the night. Make sure you have a plan in place before you start drinking, so you’re not tempted to get behind the wheel.
Speeding is one of the most common causes of accidents on the road. It gives you less time to react to hazards and increases the chance of losing control of your vehicle.
In the UK, the speed limit is 30mph in built-up areas, 60mph on single carriageways and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways (this may vary depending on the road and type of vehicle you’re driving).
If you’re caught speeding, you could be fined a minimum of £100 and given 3 points on your licence. Having 6 or more points on your licence will lead to your licence being revoked if you’re a new driver (within 2 years of passing your test).
To avoid speeding, make sure you allow plenty of time for your journey and keep an eye on the speed limit. If you’re struggling to stick to the limit, consider using a sat nav with speed limit alerts. This will warn you when you’re over or approaching a change in the limit, so you can adjust your speed accordingly.
Using your phone while driving
Using a mobile phone whilst driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do without thinking about it. It takes your attention away from the road, which can lead to accidents.
Accidents involving the use of mobile phones have You could be charged with careless driving or even dangerous driving if you’re caught using your phone while behind the wheel. Despite this, a 2019 report by the RAC showed that 25% of surveyed drivers admitted to using their phones whilst driving.
That’s why it’s so important to quickly break the habit of using your cell phone while behind the wheel. If you need to make a call or send a text, pull over to a safe location first. Once you’re off the road, then you can use your phone.
If you really want to avoid distractions, then put your phone in the glove compartment or another location that’s out of reach before you start driving. This way, you won’t be tempted to use it while behind the wheel.