Whether we like it or not, bad drivers exist, and they are a danger to us all. What's worse is that some of us are actually predisposed to be bad -- or so these researchers would have us believe. Of course, you don't really need a geneticist to tell you how good or bad you are at driving. Evaluate your driving practices carefully and you'll know exactly where you stand. These are the habits you should definitely watch out for:
You Follow Other Cars Too Closely
The closer you follow someone in front you, the more likely you are to smash right into them, should the car suddenly brake. To find out if you are prone to "tailgating," apply the tried-and-true three-second rule and you'll know right away. To do so, pick a stationary object, like a fire hydrant or tree, and once the vehicle in front of you passes it, start counting the seconds until three: "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand." If you pass the object before you're done counting, then you are guilty of tailgating.
You Drive at a Snail's Pace
You may think that driving slowly is safe, but in reality, it may be even more dangerous than driving above the posted speed limit. Slow cars are basically like moving roadblocks that force the vehicles behind them to compete for the spot ahead. This can result in a lot of frustration and potential injuries. So, if you happen to be afraid of going fast, then maybe it would make sense to stay away from high-speed roads and highways and consider alternative routes.
You Drive Too Fast
While driving too slowly can be dangerous, driving too fast for your current road conditions, visibility or skill level can be even worse. If there is potential for you to lose control of your vehicle or hit another object, then for the sake of everyone around you, just slow down. Speed limits may not be perfect for every single road or driving condition, but they exist to make roads safer, so be sure to follow them. Those of you who prefer higher speeds, just wait, since many provinces, including Quebec and British Columbia, are looking to increase speed limits in the near future.
You Ignore Unique Road Conditions
While there are many rules and guidelines when it comes to driving, certain situations require judgement. For instance, not coming to a complete stop at an intersection with a "stop" sign is always illegal, but that's not always safe. For instance, if you are driving in a snowstorm or travelling up a slippery slope, it's crucial to keep moving because otherwise you may get stuck or start sliding backwards -- potentially into another car. Situations like these happen all the time and drivers who fail to think on their feet are bound to get themselves in trouble -- whether they are breaking any rules or not.
You Don't Use Turn Signals
Not using your turn signals is possibly one of the most common bad driving habits around. Some drivers switch lanes without putting on their blinker, while others sit at an intersection without communicating to anyone where they are going. The purpose of a turn signal is to notify pedestrians and other drivers of your intentions. If you fail to do so, you can get into an accident or even kill someone. So, if you continuously forget to use your blinkers, then maybe it's time to take a few additional driving courses.
Your Emotions Get the Best of You
Emotions are a part of life -- we can't turn them off. However, it is possible to supress them in order to complete a certain task, especially if that task requires as much of your concentration as driving. For instance, if your anger turns into an open aggression against other drivers, such as yelling or deliberately cutting someone off, then you have a serious problem. Anger is, of course, not the only emotion that can get you into trouble. Anxiety is another powerful feeling that can easily impede your driving abilities. If you find yourself overwhelmed by any emotion to the point that you are far too distracted to drive -- just don't. Let someone else take the wheel or learn how to control your emotions.
You Are Not Aware of How Bad You Are
There's nothing worse than making a mistake and not realizing that it was a mistake. Like everything else in life, driving is a learning experience. However, if you don't know that you are committing certain driving crimes, then you are unlikely to ever change for the better. How do you make yourself more aware that you may in fact be a bad driver? Have other experienced drivers evaluate you on your abilities by sitting them next to you as you drive. If they do spot certain bad habits, then don't shut them out. Take them in as constructive criticism and learn from your mistakes. Do make sure that you mine your lessons from multiple sources though -- just in case!
Image courtesy of Jon Collier.
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