Top 10 Driving Mistakes That Put You in Danger

Vehicle accidents occur all over the country every single day and unfortunately, many of them can easily be avoided if the drivers involved practiced good driving habits to avoid common driving mistakes. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 40,000 people lost their lives in vehicle accidents in 2018, keeping the same grim statistics for three years in a row. 

In order to avoid serious accidents, there are several driving mistakes you should be aware of that may potentially put you, your passengers, and other drivers on the road in danger. Once you know about these mistakes, it’s much easier to be aware of them and correct them.

Read on for a list of the top 10 most common driving errors people make that can result in an accident, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Driving While Distracted

With the use of smartphones, distracted driving has become one of the most serious and common driving mistakes today. Whether you’re eating your favorite fast-food burger or checking your social media account, driving while distracted is a surefire way to end up in an accident. These types of accidents affect teenagers in fairly large numbers, but they can also affect adults, too.

When you drive, your full attention to the road and other drivers is required. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,166 people died in 2017 as a result of driving while distracted. When you look down or look away, you can easily drift to another lane, run into other vehicles, or run completely off the road.

You can avoid this bad habit by choosing to go hands-free with your smartphone or by pulling over to a safe spot before you return any missed phone calls. If you need to eat, finish your meal before you start to drive a car so that you can give your full attention to the road ahead.

2. Speeding: One of the Most Common Driving Mistakes

When it comes to automobile crashes, speeding is one of the most common reasons for accidents on the road. It might be tempting to speed if you’re late for an important appointment, but speeding will most likely result in either a traffic ticket or an accident eventually.

Stick to the posted speed limit and maintain your speed until you reach your destination. Don’t engage in drag-racing or try to outpace another driver on the road. If you have cruise control, take advantage of it to help you maintain a proper speed.

When you speed, it’s much more difficult to come to a complete, safe stop when you need to. The problem is amplified in inclement weather, so you should avoid speeding at all costs in order to avoid a serious crash. If you’re worried about being late to your destination, try to leave a bit earlier to give yourself enough time.

3. Slow Reaction Times

Your reaction time refers to the amount of time it takes for you to react after realizing that you need to come to a stop, turn a corner, or otherwise avoid an accident on the road. Our reaction times can start to slow down as we age, but there are also other factors that can affect this crucial element of safe driving.

People who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol will also have a slow reaction time that can result in a crash. People with medical conditions or those taking specific prescription medications may have slower reaction times, too.

Never get behind the wheel if you’re under the influence of anything, and always give yourself enough distance between your car and the car in front of you. Plan your route ahead of time and never get behind the wheel if you feel sick or you’re taking medications that could affect your ability to make quick decisions. Have your brakes checked to make sure that they’re in good condition, which can help improve reaction time and ensure that you stop quickly and safely when you need to.

4. Failure to Use Your Turn Signal

One of the most common driving mistakes that can put you in danger is neglecting to use your turn signal. When you turn or change lanes, this simple act is crucial to ensuring your safety. A quick turn signal is the best way to inform other drivers of your next move.

When you use your turn signal, you’re alerting other drivers of your intentions, which gives them time to accommodate you turning a corner or changing lanes. If you don’t use it, no one will know when you plan to slow down and turn or head for a different lane on the highway which means they could accidentally hit you. 

Always use your turn signal even if there’s no one behind you so it becomes a habit. Almost half of the drivers in a recent study don’t use their turn signals, which can result in a crash or even a serious accident depending on the driving speed. Some localities have heavy penalties and fines for drivers who fail to use their turn signals.

5. Zipping Through Yellow Lights

The purpose of a yellow light is to warn drivers to slow down and be prepared to stop. Many drivers like to rush through the yellow light to see how quickly they can pass through an intersection without having to stop at a red light.

While running a yellow light may not be illegal in all jurisdictions, it’s still one of the most typical driving errors that people make. If you’re not careful, you could end up in the middle of a serious accident. Unless you absolutely cannot stop safely, you should always slow down and stop when the traffic light turns yellow.

Pay attention and slow down whenever you see a yellow light and be ready to come to a complete stop. It’s never a good idea to try and outrun the yellow light since the length of time it stays yellow can vary depending on the time of day, the volume of traffic, and other factors.

6. Poor Steering Wheel Techniques

Your vehicle relies on you to keep it on the straight and narrow, but if you use poor steering techniques, things can turn out badly. Many drivers try to drive with one hand or simply don’t practice the proper techniques when it comes to using the steering wheel.

When you don’t have a firm grip on the wheel, it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle and end up in a crash. Some drivers “hook the wheel” which means that they don’t use both hands and place their forearm facing up with just one hand gripping the wheel. This is a dangerous, ineffective way to steer a vehicle safely.

While the popular 10 and 2 method was once considered the standard, today’s driving instructors recommend that you place your hands on the 9 and 3 positions instead. You’ll get better control over your vehicle and will be able to maintain your lane much more effectively with this new method. When you place your hands at the new position, it gives you improved ability to turn while keeping your hands on the wheel, and it also gives the airbag safer clearance if it deploys.

7. Driving While Tired

If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel sluggish and tired, and your reaction times can suffer. According to the US Department of Transportation, fatigued drivers are twice as likely to make mistakes on the road as people who have had sufficient rest the night before.

Never drive long distances or at highway speeds if you’re feeling fatigued or sluggish. This is a common problem among truck drivers who feel pressured to meet delivery deadlines and miss out on proper sleep.

Try to take a nap before you head out on the road if you’re feeling tired. You can also ask someone else to drive or use a ride share service or public transportation if you’re feeling sleepy.

8. Failure to Use Side Mirrors or Driving in Blind Spots

The side mirrors on your vehicle are designed to help you clearly see other cars that are near or approaching you, but they’re also designed to help you look to see if someone is driving in your blind spot. A blind spot is when a vehicle is close to the side of your car but not visible, which could result in an accident if you try to change lanes while they’re directly located to one side of your vehicle.

You can avoid these driving mistakes by installing special blind spot mirrors that are affordable and easy to add to your side-view mirrors. With the help of blind spot mirrors, it’s much easier to see other vehicles that are in the lane next to you.

It’s easy to just drift over to the lane next to you without looking for other vehicles first. With the help of blind spot mirrors and your side mirrors, you can prevent collisions since it’s much easier to see when another car is close by. A simple check of these mirrors can easily prevent car crashes and they only take a second to use.

9. Not Yielding to Oncoming Vehicles

If you’re in a rush, you’re much more prone to darting out into oncoming traffic. Failing to yield to other vehicles can not only ensure you’ll get a ticket, but it’s also one of the most common driving mistakes that result in a crash.

Even if you approach a cross street with no signage, you should always look carefully before crossing any roadways to make sure there are no other cars heading your way. In 2017, over 3,000 accidents occurred due to drivers who failed to yield.

You can easily avoid becoming a statistic by simply yielding to other drivers. A head-on collision or any crash with oncoming traffic can result in serious damage to your vehicle, injury, or even death.

10. Improper Use of Headlights and High Beams

Drivers who don’t turn on their headlights at night or during inclement weather are much more susceptible to being involved in a collision. Always use your headlights when it gets dark outside or when it’s raining so you can see, and so other drivers can see you.

Another common example of light-related driving errors is when drivers turn on their high beams and cause too much glare for other drivers on the road. Glare from headlights can make it difficult to judge distances between your own car and other vehicles on the road.

Never drive at night without headlights, and only use your high beams when there is light traffic or no other cars on the road. The use of high beams can cause other drivers to have difficulty seeing clearly which may result in an accident.

Avoid These Common Driving Mistakes

The next time you head out on the roadway, try to avoid these 10 common driving mistakes so you can stay safe. You can improve your skills and gain confidence by enrolling in a thorough defensive driving course led by experienced instructors.

Once you understand the dangers of these common driving errors, you’ll be much more aware of your own personal habits and what you can do to change them in order to stay safe. When you enroll in a defensive driving course, you can also lower your car insurance rate. Not only will you be a safer driver, but you might just save some extra money in the process, too.

If you want to learn more about how you can take a driver safety course online, visit our website and check out our demo today!