Drivers are not perfect. Yes, we take driving lessons and go through examinations just to be worthy of taking the driver’s seat, but if you’re reading this and you happen to be a holder of a driver’s license, we know that you have had your share of traffic moments you’d rather forget.
We’re not expected to be saints, that much is true. But when you’re at the helm of a road machine that weighs at least a ton, with the potential to turn it from a tool for transport to a weapon of mass destruction, a minimum set of standards for behavior is in order. Like the capacity for patience, for generosity, for being considerate. Most of all, the capacity to follow the rules.
The biggest driving mistakes and bad habits
However, there are certain transgressions that should be avoided while driving on the road, yet a lot of drivers – both novice and veteran – still fall victim to them. Maybe it’s the false sense of security from driving a metal fortress on wheels in general, or maybe it’s the entitlement from having the bigger or faster set of wheels.
Those might seem like little peccadillos to you, but they might ultimately spell the difference between getting home safely and becoming the next viral sensation, and not in a good way.
The law mandates speed limits on the road for a reason: traveling at speeds unsafe for a given area leaves you vulnerable to an accident. The faster you go, the greater the chances your reaction time will not be enough to cope with sudden changes in the road conditions ahead.
What might look like a clear path right in front of your hood can just as easily turn into an obstacle course. There’s the child running across the street to retrieve a ball. Or the cat darting from underneath a parked car to chase a mouse.
A pedestrian might take the worst time possible to pop up from the sidewalk in search of a ride home. Or another vehicle might just be in the middle of maneuvering its way either to park or make a U-turn.
Overspeeding = car accident
Then again, it’s not just any of those instances that will get yourself hurt or killed while speeding. High temperatures from your tires spinning too fast leave you at risk of suffering a blowout, especially if you’re running on worn rubbers.
A damaged suspension system might compromise your car’s ability to steer away from danger not to mention faulty brakes that reduce your car’s ability to stop at a moment’s notice.
>>> Also check out: Speed Limit Law Philippines: Know It, Follow It
2. Driving while fatigued
You might think that driving is the easiest thing in the world since you’re seated most of the time. On the contrary, taking control of the wheel requires the complete use of one’s mental and physical faculties. Having one or the other isn’t going to cut it; both are necessary to maintain safety.
When your body is tired or in pain, your attention is constantly shifted unnecessarily towards your need to rest or otherwise attend to your fatigue; it becomes difficult to focus on important cues, such as when to shift and when to brake.
Meanwhile, a fatigued mental state makes it harder to make decisions when you need to; you can’t make up your mind on whether to slug out the traffic jam ahead or take a U-turn.
Drowsy driving is even worse than drunk driving
Either condition is risky since you risk blacking out in one way or another; if you’re lucky, you won’t even remember how you managed to pass through a particular area on a familiar route. That’s muscle memory working.
But if it’s a completely unfamiliar path you’re taking, you’ll definitely need the presence of mind and physical condition to arrive safely. Closing your eyes or dozing off for a few seconds is more than enough for tragedy to happen.
3. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating with the guys and the gals on a night out. But when you happen to be driving afterward, then it’s time to manage expectations beforehand. Much like fatigue, alcohol and drugs can affect your reaction time, a crucial element in driving, especially at night when visual conditions are more difficult.
What’s more, having the rush of alcohol and narcotics will likely make you more aggressive, given their effect in lowering inhibitions. Your typically conscientious driving style gets thrown out the window as you assume a daredevil persona behind the wheel.
Driving under alcohol can cause injuries, fatalities, damage to property and even death
Running headlong into a fender-bender is bad enough; in your inebriated state, you might even be foolish enough to step outside and pick a fight with the other party. We don’t need to tell you that these things rarely end well, especially if weapons are involved.
>>> Related post: What to know about driving under the influence (DUI) & its sanctions
Yes, we know times are tough and we need to save fuel as much as possible, but tailgating is one of the worst ways to do it. Tailgating or slipstreaming had its origins as a racing maneuver, when one driver would follow the car in front so close to take advantage of the air flowing around it, reducing aerodynamic drag.
The car behind maintains speed without having to use up more fuel, eventually using the momentum as a slingshot to propel it ahead. In contrast, real-world driving isn’t a race to get anywhere first.
Motorists who tailgate usually do so behind a more substantial vehicle such as a truck or bus on an expressway, in order to take advantage of the larger area the air goes around of.
Tailgating will cause a collision if the vehicle in front stops suddenly
The problem with these larger vehicles is that their sheer size blocks off visibility; you won’t be able to anticipate whatever it is that will make them suddenly slam on the brakes and stop, leading you to crash into them directly. There are instances where drivers will tailgate another vehicle, not to improve efficiency but as an act of aggression, which is an equally bad idea.
An agitated emotional state, like fatigue and alcohol, impairs what would otherwise be good judgment on your part, leaving you wide open to something untoward and regrettable.
5. Driving while using a mobile phone
Yes, technology is supposed to make things convenient, but they’re also there to make everything safer. Smartphones especially have been exponentially improving in terms of performance e.g. these now help you navigate your way through some of the city’s most insufferable roads.
The problem begins when an incoming call, text, email or social media post diverts your attention from what’s ahead of your windshield. Taking the phone by one hand effectively halves your dexterity in driving your car, and your eyes darting between the phone screen and the road ahead certainly isn’t helping.
A few seconds looking at your phone screen is all it takes for you to rear-end the car in front, miss that huge pothole that gets you stuck, or that oil slick that makes your car slide off across the center island right onto the other lane. Be careful or you will get a ticket for breaking the Anti-Distracted Driving Act in the Philippines
6. Running the traffic lights
See, traffic lights are there to signal everyone when to go, when to stop, and when to slow down; we’ve been taught to see it that way since grade school. So how come these lessons have become largely forgotten when we turn into adults?
A green light is always a welcome sight for any motorist, as it signals that the way ahead is clear. Everyone’s serenely following the traffic flow. But when the light turns yellow, the serenity turns into aggression, since there are typically only a few seconds before the light turns red and everyone has to stop.
It’s as if the yellow traffic signal serves as a visual prompt to go faster, in an effort to avoid getting caught up in yet another two minutes or so of waiting. Worse, there are those who will still try to squeeze through even though the light is already glowing bright red.
Waiting for one minute or ending up an accident?
If anecdotes aren’t enough to convince you how dangerous this is, there are countless videos online showing what happens when motorists run traffic lights. Apart from risking being flagged down for a traffic violation, the chances of a collision are always very real. If you happen to make it past the middle, fine. But if you don’t, you’ll end up…
>>> Worth to note the list of LTO fines and penalties in the Philippines.
7. Blocking the intersection
You tried to run through the intersection despite the traffic light saying otherwise. Now you can’t move forward because the light’s red and there are still a bunch of cars in front. You can’t reverse because there’s already a line right behind you.
Blocking the intersection is a form of traffic congestion
That leaves you in a position to be one of two things: a laughing stock, or the object of dagger looks, as motorists from the adjacent lane are unable to pass through because you’re blocking the way. It’s inconsiderate of you and inconvenient for them since your little stunt turned what would have been a short traffic stop into several minutes of hell and humiliation.
Many traffic lights nowadays come with large countdown timers so you can more or less estimate how long you’ll have to wait between green lights. In case you encounter one that doesn’t, then it’s always a good idea to approach the intersection with caution.
Oh, and don’t proceed right away in case you’re first in line when the light turns green. Always a good idea to look both ways, in case someone else might be in a rush to run the red light in their corner.
8. Making unnecessarily wide turns
Look, we know you’re driving a fancy car, but there’s no need to be the center of attention every time you make a turn into another lane. We’ll bet that your ride is at least equipped with power steering, so it shouldn’t be that hard to maintain as tight a radius as your car allows, right?
Taking up more space than necessary when turning annoys other motorists
Taking up more space than necessary when turning not only annoys other motorists in your lane who have to avoid getting hit by your vehicle’s bulk, it also makes you susceptible to getting hit by motorists in the other lane, especially if you execute your maneuver suddenly. To be on the safe side, try to keep to your own lane while allowing yourself a little elbow room so to speak, in instances where you might need to make several adjustments when turning.
9. Hogging the fast lane
This sin is usually committed on the highways where high speeds are allowed to a point. The leftmost lane is always designated as the fast lane, where vehicles traveling faster than the rest of the traffic are permitted to pass.
What a lot of motorists don’t realize is that the fast lane is there for passing or overtaking, which is why it is supposed to be clear. Say you want to overtake the car in front of you that’s on the second leftmost lane, so you pass it on the left using the fast lane.
Let's face the fact: there are a lot of cars out there capable of traveling faster than yours
But as soon as you clear it, you’ll need to merge back into the lane beside it. This leaves the fast lane open to anyone else who might wish to overtake you in turn. Worse, they’ll end up using the middle lanes or even the shoulder to get past, with potentially disastrous results.
Let’s face it: there are a lot of cars out there capable of traveling faster than yours; there’s no shame in admitting that, and they deserve to stretch their legs.
And no, reasoning out that these cars are traveling past the speed limit isn’t valid. Unless you work in traffic management, it’s not your job to police them. Authorities use CCTV cameras and radar guns deployed along the length of the expressway, and it’s their job to apprehend anyone they judge to be in violation of the speed limit.
10. Throwing trash
Who wants to be seen as a litterbug? Yes, you can afford to buy a nice set of wheels, but you can’t afford the manners to keep your refuse to yourself? Throwing your trash out the car window is not only disgusting, but it’s also harmful to the environment, not to mention having long-term effects on flood control.
Be an eco-friendly driver!
Don’t be surprised when you eventually pass a flooded street and find clogged drainage as the culprit, largely from all of the garbage you carelessly threw out. Everybody wants a clean car, but you don’t make yourself clean by making your surroundings dirty.
Invest in a portable garbage bin for your car where you can store trash temporarily until you can dispose of them in the proper receptacle.
>>> Don't forget to visit Philkotse.com to find more useful tips for safe driving!
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