Like a lot of our readers, you may be the best driver you know! While safe, considerate driving has always come naturally to you, you’ve got a list as long as your leg of people who are always performing rash, dangerous maneuvers, or letting their attention wander when it should be on the road. Now, while you may be a pretty competent driver, it can be easy to only see other people’s mistakes, and totally overlook our own! Here are some of the less obvious bad habits to be aware of…
Failing to Check Your Blind Spot
This is an issue which the motor industry and various government bodies are always trying to raise awareness for. Despite these efforts, neglecting to check your blind spot is one of the most common bad habits that modern drivers can make. Motorists failing to check their car’s blind spots have been the cause of countless whiplash settlements, not to mention far too many fatalities. Yes, I know that after a few years behind the wheel, you develop a natural, passive awareness of vehicles and hazards around you. At the end of the day though, if you can’t see an area in plain view or with your mirrors, it’s essential that you remember to check it.
Leaving your High-Beams On
There’s a reason why this is considered poor driving etiquette; it has the potential to cause an accident. Obviously, it’s a pretty big issue if you can’t see the road ahead of you when it’s dark! Still, you should feel safe using normal headlights even on the darkest of country roads, especially when you have another car coming towards you. If normal headlights make you feel skittish and tense whenever you’re driving at night, it may be worth replacing the bulbs in your lights with a stronger wattage, or simply slowing down to give yourself more time to see the road ahead of you.
Riding the Clutch
Yes, this isn’t really a driving offense. However, it’s still a pretty careless habit to hold onto, and a lot of people will tell you that it really should be an offense! If you weren’t aware, “riding the clutch” refers to when the driver doesn’t completely release the clutch pedal on a manual car. This causes the clutch disc to make contact with the flywheel, leading to premature wear on not only the flywheel, but also the disc itself and the release bearing. What’s dangerous about this kind of damage is the way it creeps up on you. You’ll be able to ride the clutch again and again for years and never notice any serious, immediate damage. However, when your next servicing comes around, you’ll definitely see your bad habit reflected in the bill!
Bad Seat Positioning
If your friends ever get in your car, look at the way you’re sitting, and say you look like either an old lady or a boy racer, it may be worth listening to them! A lot of people believe that the seat position in a car is a matter of personal preference, and it really doesn’t matter how you have it provided that you can see out ahead of you and reach all the pedals. This is wrong; the guidelines exist for a reason! As a rule, you should be able to sit back in the driver’s seat with both arms fully extended, and your hands should be able to reach just past the steering wheel so that you can rest your wrist on the top of it comfortably. In this position, you’ll have ample room to steer without ever having to stretch. Your seat positioning should also allow you to place both of your feet on the floor behind the pedals without having to stretch out your legs or lift your hips off the seat too much. This ensures that if you need to perform an emergency stop, you won’t have to strain yourself to exert pressure on the pedal.
Last, but certainly not least, we have one of the biggest driving sins of recent times; allowing yourself to get distracted while you’re at the wheel. Using your phone for anything, fiddling with the stereo, eating, or even talking too much can all really up your risk of having an accident. Sure, your reactions may be pretty sharp after so many years of driving. However, in high-risk driving situations, mere seconds can make all the difference to whether you’re involved in a collision, or able to quickly avert it.