Each new year feels like a breath of fresh air. Whether you make new year resolutions or not, January 1 always seems to usher in this feeling of renewal and encouragement to make positive choices and changes.
Do you have any bad driving habits? You're not alone. Hardly a day on the road goes by where we don't see someone in the driver's seat on their phone, changing lanes without signaling or running through a red light at the intersection.
To start the new year off right, we're taking a look at some of the top bad driving habits to ditch in 2018.
Driving activates four out of our five senses -- sight, hearing, smell and touch -- so at any moment you are focused on one sense or the other, and sometimes more than one at a time. It's all too easy to get distracted by the flash of lights in the distance or scenery on the side of the road. How many times have you missed your highway exit because you were daydreaming on your commute? It takes effort to concentrate on the task of driving.
Distractions can't be totally eliminated, but you can minimize your attention to these distractions. Many cars today are equipped with Bluetooth technology, releasing your hands-on phone dependency. This technology is usually part of a tech package add-on for your new car or can be bought as a small external unit that connects via AUX cable or the electrical plug.
Additionally, evidence shows that eating while driving is a dangerous practice. Enjoy your meal while keeping your car's interior clean by refraining from eating behind the wheel. You might think that you're careful and you haven't had any problems so far, so whatever you're doing is working just fine. The reality is that your eating-while-driving habit hasn't caused you to have an accident yet. With every bite or sip you take, one of your hands is off the steering wheel, compromising control of your vehicle. The same goes for that pre-work swipe of lipstick or mascara and texting. If it takes your hands off the wheel, wait until you're out of the car.
Driving Under the Influence
With every news release of a person lost to drunk driving, our hearts ache. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and sedative prescription medications is incredibly dangerous, irresponsible and deadly. If you know you're in for a night of drinking or partying, designate a sober driver when traveling in a group. If you're driving solo, a Lyft, Uber or taxi fare is a great cheap alternative to a DUI misdemeanor or felony you'll carry with you for the rest of your life.
When your eyelids start to get heavy and you feel yourself blinking just to clear your vision, it's time to pull over. Drowsy driving claimed 846 lives in 2014, according to the NHTSA. Now we know calling in sleepy isn't really an option for those workdays where you just couldn't get to sleep the night before. If you know you're going to be on the road well into the night, plan for resting periods. Check your prescription medications as well for side effects that may make you drowsy. There's no reason to put yourself and others at risk for the sake of getting to wherever you're going in record time.
Speeding, tailing and weaving are just three of the driving habits you definitely need to ditch in 2018! Aggressive driving is frequently the catalyst for the many accidents that cause injuries.
How do you know if you're driving too close to the car in front of you? Use the two-second rule* to help you avoid a collision.
Here's how the two-second rule works:
- Find an object on the road to use as your marker (highway sign, overpass, roadkill … you get the idea).
- Count one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.
- If you meet that marker in less than the two seconds' time it took you to count, you're following too closely and need to slow down.
Failing to Use Signals
Apart from a few antique cars, your car has turn signals. More of today's motorcycles now include self-cancelling turn signals, too! Turn signals alert the drivers behind and in front of you of your intentions to turn right, left and to change lanes. A flick of a lever activates this function and turns off automatically when that turn is complete. So why aren't more people using their turn signals? Unfortunately, we can't think of any reason except sheer laziness.
Even With Good Driving Habits, Car Accidents Happen
If you ditch all your bad driving habits in the new year, pat yourself on the back and feel great that you are making the roads you travel safer. Even with all the good driving habits you've resolved yourself to, you could still find yourself on the other end of an accident. Don't panic. Contact an experienced auto accident attorney and keep your safe driving goals within sight. After all the work you've done, you deserve nothing less.
*The two-second rule does not take speed into consideration since it is not a determining factor of proximity. Under hazardous road or weather conditions, extend your distance from the car in front of you by an extra one to two seconds.