We are all guilty of driving mistakes, no matter how great a driver we all think we are. Driving angry or simply changing the radio station can having lasting effects on you and others around you. Here are some of the most common driving mistakes and easiest to correct.
1. The Two Second Rule
Most of us learned two seconds was a sufficient and safe driving distance. Turns out, two seconds is the bare minimum and only in perfect testing conditions. The National Safety Council (source) suggests a realistic driving condition minimum of at least three seconds. Obviously, one should increase the distance between you and the car in front of you in inclement weather such as rain, sleet, snow or at night.
2. Speeding, though Illegal, Gets Me to My Destination Faster
This mistake is only mostly wrong. Obviously, the time required to travel between two points is decreased when speed increases. However, the potential cost does not outweigh the benefit (source).
For example: You are on a trip that is exactly 10 miles (assuming no controlled intersections or turns). The speed limit is 50 mph. If you speed by 5 mph, you gain just over a minute. Speed by 15 mph and you still save yourself less than 3 minutes time (assuming a police officer is not watching you). Fifteen mph over the speed limit is sure to get you pulled over if you’re caught, but it only saves you a small fraction of time. Is the potential cost of a speeding ticket and lost time when you’re pulled over really worth it? Also, your risk of an accident resulting in death traveling 15 mph over the speed limit increases by 1.5 times that of traveling the speed limit.
3. Seat and Tray Tables NOT in Their Full and Upright Positions
Most of us younger folks are guilty of this. Slouching and sitting low in the driver’s seat is highly comfortable but highly dangerous and a common driving error (source).
Both hands should be on the wheel and when sitting (at a stop) you should be able to extend your hands passed the steering wheel allowing your wrists to meet the wheel. If your wrists cannot touch the wheel, you’re sitting back too far. Having to reach for the wheel will make it difficult to react if someone else makes a driving mistake. Besides, the driving with one hand on the wheel and leaning over to snuggle your significant other went out with greasy hair back in the early 90’s.
4. Playing with the Radio
Listening to your radio is distracting enough. Reaching for dashboard of your car for anything, be it the radio dial, changing MP3 playlists, or worse yet reaching for the glove box, you are putting yourself and others in serious jeopardy. Car companies don’t give you those cool buttons on your steering wheel because they add flare to the interior. Every second your eyes are not on the road, you’re endangering yourself and others.
For instance: Lets say your on the highway. The cruise control is set, you’re traveling within the speed limit (not likely) of 65 mph. Suddenly, you’re done listening to that NPR podcast and want to change to your Jay-Z playlist. Traveling 65 mph, for every second your eyes are flicking through your IPOD, you and your car have just traveled 100 feet. A lot can happen in 100 feet, especially if you’re leaning in to grab that IPOD, chances are you’re also pulling the wheel to the right.
5. Texting and Talking on Your Phone
Texting probably fits into #4 as well. However, considering how often it happens and how infrequently we realize this common driving mistake, it bears mentioning in its own category.
If you’re texting, two separate problems exist. One, your eyes are not on the road (see #4 for details). Second, your brain is focusing on reading, typing, and the ‘conversation’ you are having with the person you are texting.
Many argue they can text without looking at their phone. This may be true, but they are still reading responses and guilty of the second problem.
In all, it is important to remain a defensive driver rather than ending up in a ditch. Almost everyone will be guilty of at least some of these common driving mistakes, and most of us will survive our driving mistakes. Its easy to forget you’re driving a half ton of metal at high speeds within inches of other high speed half ton metal machines.