Did you know that 99% of all road accidents are caused by human error? The sad truth is that it is that most drivers continue to make the same driving mistakes on the road, oblivious to their faulty driving habits.
Here are some of the most common driving mistakes:
1. Staying in the passing/overtaking lanes
There’s just something about the lane to the far left that has a magnetic hold on some drivers. Not only do they forget that the lane is specifically for passing/overtaking and that they must soon move into the travel lane to the right to allow someone else to pass, but they also appear indifferent to the traffic they are blocking behind them. The rule is simple – the lane to the far left is NOT a fast lane, it is the overtaking lane. If you are not overtaking and continue driving in that lane, you are breaking the law and creating a traffic hazard.
2. Stopping abruptly without warning
Slamming on the brakes in moving traffic for no obvious reason, is one of the leading causes of accidents on roads and highways. An abrupt decision to stop without forethought or indication is bound to have consequences. You should always be aware of the cars behind you, stopping slowly and carefully, giving other drivers time to react and adjust.
3. Forgetting to use the indicator signs
Using the indicator when changing lanes or turning a corner is not just driving etiquette – it’s a critical safety feature that informs other motorists of our intentions. When drivers beside or behind us are unaware of the changes we are making en route, they are forced to react to our actions without warning, and this is a recipe for accidents. Once you’ve indicated your move and made it, remember to turn off the indicator or else you will be misguiding (and annoying) drivers behind you for an extended period of time.
4. Switching lanes while turning
Crossing multiple lanes while turning a corner is a dangerous and costly driving mistake. Some people take turns so wide that it allows them to change lanes at the same time. This can cause collisions with cars in other lanes that are also turning at the exact moment. The correct practice is to first execute the turn in the lane that you’re in, and then indicate that you are going to change lanes.
5. Riding the brakes
“Have two feet, must use both” is a rule better applied when not in your car. Some people, however, think it’s perfectly fine to keep the left foot on the brake and the right foot on the accelerator. This can cause an involuntary but nasty habit of pressing down on both pedals for a few seconds, usually at a red light, pedestrian crossing or stop sign. Not only will this wear the brakes out quickly, but it can also cause accidents as drivers behind you are forced to react to your jerky driving. So leave the left foot out of the equation, because the right one, is the right one.
6. Speeding through an amber light
Some drivers seem to think that an amber light means ‘speed up’, not ‘slow down’ and hit the accelerator instead of the brake. Nearly every collision at an intersection is because someone was speeding through a yellow light or worse still, jumping a red light. Is saving those 90 seconds worth risking your life and those of others?
7. Not stopping at pedestrian/zebra crossings
In the UAE, motorists face a Dh500 fine and six black points if they don’t give way to pedestrians at designated crossings. If there is traffic behind you, turn on your hazard lights to warn them that you have stopped. And if you are approaching a busy intersection, be prepared to have to stop either for the pedestrians or for the cars that have stopped for them.
8. Leaving high beams on
High beams are essential when driving at night on roads that do not have streetlights. However, these beams can blind oncoming traffic and distract drivers ahead of you. So when you see another car’s headlights or taillights in the distance, use low beams.
9. Improper adjustments of rear- and side-view mirrors
Side view mirrors that reflect more of the vehicle being driven and less of the cars alongside prevent the driver from seeing cars right beside them. This is especially dangerous when switching lanes. To eliminate blind spots almost completely, both of the side mirrors should be pointed wide enough to just barely show the side of your car. The inside mirror should be positioned to provide a full view of the back window at just a glance, without having to move your head.
10. Bad seating position
While comfort while driving matters, getting too comfortable may not be such a good idea. Sitting too far back behind the wheel, or in positions that compromise control of the vehicle could slow down reaction time and affect visibility. Being too comfortable could also lull a driver into a daze, diminishing their attention to what’s going on around them. Sitting upright and keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times will help you stay alert and in control.
11. Sitting at a green light
Wasting precious seconds at large intersections can be extremely aggravating for the drivers behind you, especially those who made a conscious effort to not make mistake 6! Stay in the moment when you are on the road, whether moving or at a standstill.
12. Using your phone (even in hands-free mode)
Smartphone integration in many new vehicles has come a long way. In-built features like voice recognition let you talk and text while complying with hands-free laws. However, having both hands on the wheel is still no guarantee of safety if are distracted by your call. If you are more focused on your conversation than on your surroundings, your reaction time could suffer.