You may drive on one everyday, but operating a vehicle doesn't mean you're on easy street. Every year, thousands of people get injured or worse in car accidents. Sometimes those accidents are unavoidable, like when a car randomly has a mechanical issue despite proper upkeep and maintenance, or an animal (or tree!) jumps out onto the road. More often than not, though, car accidents are caused by human error. We all like to attest that we're safe drivers, but the truth is even good drivers can sometimes be guilty of the following bad driving habits:
1. Using Your Smartphone While Driving
Even just a split-second with your eyes off the road can be a split-second too long. Don't text and especially don't surf the Web while driving. You should avoid making or taking calls (even hands-free ones) because the content of the conversation could prove to be a distraction. Also, make sure your navigation is set up in a place where you don't have to hold your phone to use it, and keep the directions volume ON so you don't have to refer to the screen to confirm where you are headed.
2. Driving While Intoxicated, Tired or Peeved
What do these three states all have in common? They all affect one's ability to react on the road with a clear head. In the case of the first two, reaction time is dramatically slowed because a person's consciousness is directly impacted. As for the third, driving while angry can make a person impatient and more likely to make rash and unsafe driving decisions.
3. Eating, Drinking, Vaping, or Applying Makeup Behind the Wheel
Anything that causes a driver to lose one of the hours on their '10' and '2' is a bad idea. Not only can that fast food cheeseburger make your grip greasy, but the plop of a pickle down the side of your seat or a coffee spill down the front of your nice white shirt may instinctively cause you to take your eyes off the road. Two hands on the wheel is always the preferred ideal in case a quick swerve or lane change is required. And unlike your coffee, your vape won't get cold, so there's really no excuse not to wait until you've safely reached your destination to reach for it.
4. Speeding, Tailgating, Not Using a Turn Signal and Running Red Lights
These are all common practices that are all extremely unsafe. Not only do you put your own life at risk when you do any of these, but the lives of those around you. Increasing your speed is not going to get you there that much faster, but what it does increase is your chance of getting into a fatal accident. If you're late, that's life, and it's probably not as big of a deal as you're making it. Tailgating, meanwhile, is just rude and foolish, and it's not that hard to get into the habit of using your turn signal every. single. time. It's important to be extra vigilant of your driving habits during bad weather (pro tip: SLOOOW down).
5. Road Rage
As tempting or as natural as it can sometimes be, you should avoid getting overly upset when someone cuts you off, drives too slow in front of you, or breaks some other rule of the road. You're not even going to remember this incident in a week, so why waste energy on it in the moment, allowing it to sour the rest of your drive or day. Becoming angry will only lead to you driving less cautiously. Remember to practice good car-ma and to anticipate the "body language" of other vehicles.
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