We all tend to believe that we are the best drivers on the road but how true is that? Here are some common unsafe driving practices, and if you relate to even one of them, you are doing it wrong! Read this short story to recap on what NOT to do while driving.
Using a cell phone
This has to be the top cause of accidents and spats on our city roads. This not only includes talking on the phone but also texting and using other applications on the now-common smart phones. Even something as simple as checking time on your phone can cause an accident. Also read: Driving tips for city driving in slow traffic
Never talk on the phone while driving. Even when you are using hands-free devices or Bluetooth headsets, try to keep the conversation short and to the point. It is not the cops you are fooling but yourself. Driving requires your undivided attention, no matter how good a driver you are. Say no to texting and fiddling with other things on the phone. Use your in-dash clock to check time, if you don’t have one, get one installed (It is a fairly cheap accessory).
Even the best of drivers can end up in sticky situation due to over-speeding. The best way to avoid having to drive fast is to leave in advance. If you get stuck in a traffic jam despite of having left early, don’t try to make up for the lost time by flooring the accelerator once you are out of the jam. Although you may think it helps you get to your destination faster, it doesn’t. You will at best reach 2 to 5 minutes in advance. It isn’t really going to help you much; all it will do is stimulate more stress and anxiety. Also read: 10 Tips to Survive Indian Highways!
More importantly, you will be putting other drivers on the road at risk. Another thing to keep in mind is that even if you are an exceptionally good driver, the roads are full of rookie drivers. So for the sake of those not so proficient with the wheel, drive slow and safe!
Driving very slow
Now, while you may think that you are driving safe simply because you are driving at a slow speed, you may be putting yourself in harms way. It is essential to take into account where you are driving as well. If you are driving at 30 kmph in a place where the permissible speed limit is say 100 kmph, you are the potential epicenter of a major accident. Especially when driving on expressways and broad open roads. Remember to maintain a steady pace while on such roads.
In India we do not have any strict enforcement of the lower speed limit but in many countries driving below a certain speed is also an offence. Always see the maximum speed permitted on the road and vary your speeds accordingly. Even if you are not in a hurry maintain a decent pace vis-a-vis the speed limit and drive in the extreme left lane only. If for some reason your car cannot be driven at a safe speed, drive in the extreme left lane.
Driving while eating or drinking
You should avoid eating or drinking while driving and here we’re not referring to drinking alcohol (That you shouldn’t do anyway!) but other things. It might seem like a good idea to grab breakfast and eat while you drive, but it isn’t.
Apart from the obvious risk of spilling coffee on yourself or smothering your leather upholstery with all the mayonnaise in your sandwich you also risk accidents. Each bite or sip you take requires you to take your hand off the wheel and eye off the road. It is not impossible to drive while you eat, but is dangerous.
While you may be able to drive perfectly in a straight line while eating or drinking, you are less aware of surrounding traffic. This means you might end up braking too late or too hard, you may end up taking a turn without checking the rear view mirror etc. It is best to stop your car finish what you are eating and then drive on. It will take hardly 5-10 minutes but will save you a lot of headache (You really don’t want to get into an accident because of a slice of bread!).
Not using the horn and indicators
Although we’re not suggesting you add the to city’s noise pollution by honking, sounding the horn on turns and crossings is advisable. Even if oncoming traffic can not see you around a bend they can hear you. So always honk when taking turns, crossing and intersection, overtaking etc.
Secondly, remember to use you indicators. People driving behind you rely on your indicators to judge how fast they should go while they overtake and what side to stay on incase you are taking a turn. A common cause of road rage is the failure of another driver to engage indicators. If you are not used to this start using indicators consciously on all turns even if you are driving inside your apartment complex or a local market’s parking lot. Also read: Guide to driving in the mountains
Grooming on the go
Many women and men use their cars as an alternative dressing table. It is a very dangerous practice to apply make up or comb your hair while driving. In fact it might be one of the most dangerous driving practices as these are activities which require far more attention than your may think. Your focus will be primarily on applying make up of adjusting your hair, which is dangerous.
This is perhaps one of the only activities in our list which requires your eyes to be away from the road, your hands to be off the steering wheel and gear lever. That can be a lethal combination when clubbed with the lack of undivided attention being on the road.