This is a 3-part series, in “Top 5” format, on observations of driving and traffic, an aspect of daily life that you cannot escape in most every part of the civilized world.
Here is my list of the Top 5 Dangerous Driving Habits that I witness on almost a daily basis. There should be no excuse to drivers stopping these bad habits and making the roads safer for all of us.
- Cell phone use / texting – Talking on the phone (hand-to-ear) takes a hand off the wheel and your focus off the road. Worse is texting or otherwise viewing your phone while driving, taking your eyes off the road as well. I like the campaign against this by AT&T called “It Can Wait” which I mention in my post Powerful “It Can Wait” Texting & Driving Ad.
- No seat belts / child safety seats – I remember the days before nationwide seat belt enforcement and even child restraints. Heck, I rode on at least one family trip from Illinois to Florida on the center console. Crazy! As if one or both of my parent’s straight-arm stopping techniques would have made any difference. Just make it a habit when you get into the car, including the back seat. (I even find myself reaching for the belt when I already have it on.)
- No turn signal use when turning – Signaling is usually required within certain distances before a turn. In Illinois, it must be done 100 feet before the turn or 200 feet when driving outside of a business or residential district. While this is a common courtesy to other drivers, it more importantly puts others on notice that you are altering your path and will be slowing down in the process, i.e. be ready for me to slow or stop in front of you. You should WANT to let others know your plans for your safety too. This goes for changing lanes as well!
- Following too closely – I admit I do this to a degree, mostly because I am inappropriately predicting the driver’s actions ahead of me. I need to work on this one myself and remember the 3-Second Rule. Follow the 3-Second Rule (or at least the 2-Second Rule) to maintain a safe distance. Select a fixed object on the road ahead of you such as a post or sign and start slowing counting “one one thousand…” when the car directly ahead of you passes that object. If you reach the object before completing a three-count, you’re following too closely. This is a minimum and should be extended for changes in road conditions, weather, nighttime, and so on.
- Not turning into nearest lane – Whether turning left or right on a roadway, be sure to complete your turn into the lane closest to you. If you need to get into the next lane, for your next turn for example, only do so after your first turn into the closest lane and signal your lane change. Turning into the wrong traffic lane is a popular cause of traffic accidents. Thus, (1) follow the rule yourself and (2) be defensive about driving by assuming other vehicles may not be turning into the correct lane.
I’ll cover some more traffic violations and annoyances in upcoming posts. Next we will discuss types of annoying drivers on the road.
What dangerous driving habits are missing from my Top 5?
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