Whether you’re learning to drive or have just passed your test, you’ll soon realise that not everyone drives exactly the way they were taught. It may be your dad turning corners with only one hand on the wheel or your mate being an amber gambler. Either way you don’t want to pick up any of these bad habits as they make your driving less safe and can damage your new car.
1. Ignoring blind spots
One of the first things you learn – even before setting off – is to adjust and check your mirrors and blind spot before manoeuvring. Failing to do this in your test will result in at least a minor. While it only takes a few seconds and should be second nature after doing it in every driving lesson, once there’s no instructor double-checking every time, many people fall out of the habit. A lot of new cars include active blind spot monitoring systems, that either make a noise and/or have a flashing light to warn the driver when there’s something in their blind spot before setting off.
2. Poor steering wheel control
According to research by 1st Central, after just five weeks of passing their driving test many new drivers give up the ‘10 to 2’ hand position and start cruising with one hand on the wheel. Having two hands on the wheel gives you better control over your car. Avoid dry steering, which is turning the wheel when your car’s parked, which causes unnecessary tyre wear. Instead, slowly move your car and turn the wheel (with two hands) briskly.
3. Lack of indicating
Not indicating isn’t technically illegal but it can be classed as careless driving because other motorists and pedestrians won’t expect you to turn, which could cause an accident. Consider your surroundings, other road users and pedestrians so that they know your intentions by indicating. As they should all be able to see what you plan to do this should reduce the chance of an accident.
4. Keeping your distance
If the car in front comes to a sudden stop you run the risk of going into the back of them. It’s important to keep your distance even at a standstill when the car in front could roll back (especially on a hill). On motorways always stay two chevrons apart (about 40 metres) and make sure you can see the tarmac, under and behind the rear wheels of the car in front, when stopping.
5. Riding the clutch
Impatience can lead to many bad driving habits, such as riding the clutch when waiting for traffic lights to change colour. Doing this can cause pressure plate problems as they graze against each other when the clutch isn’t down fully. Get into the habit of putting your car in neutral, with the handbrake on when stopped as it’s much better for your car.
6. Driving on low fuel
A common myth is that driving on low fuel means less weight and, therefore, the petrol or diesel will go much further. There’s also the worry of running completely out of fuel. Avoid this by filling up as quickly as possible after your fuel light comes on, or by pre-empting it and filling up when it drops below a quarter full.
7. Not wearing a seatbelt
The bad habit new drivers pick up quickest according to research – just two weeks after passing their test – is not wearing a seatbelt. This flouts the legal safety requirement and can be fatal in the worst-case scenario. Buckle up as soon as you get into your car.
Image courtesy of iStock.