Whether you’re a new driver who lacks experience or you’ve been driving for a while and have simply gotten complacent over the years, chances are you’re likely to make poor driving choices from time to time. Which of these common driving mistakes are you guilty of?
Speeding through a yellow light
The appropriate and, consequently, the safest response to a yellow light is to slow down, not speed up. As you approach an intersection, stay alert and be prepared to adjust your speed. For example, if you think a green light is about to turn yellow, you may want to go ahead and start slowing down preemptively. Doing this should help you avoid two mistakes:
- Having to speed through the yellow light because you’re already in the intersection
- Having to slam on the breaks because you didn’t anticipate the change.
Driving when tired
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, 60% of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy and 37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year. Studies have shown that driving when you haven’t gotten enough sleep is just as dangerous as, and in some cases more dangerous than, driving drunk. So make sure you get enough sleep the night before a long drive, and if you feel tired or drowsy, have someone else take the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did a study that showed the number of fatalities in distraction-affected crashes was 2,841 of total fatalities in 2018. If you’re doing something while driving that is taking your attention away from the road, it’s not worth losing your life over. Limit phone use to emergency calls or navigation purposes only while driving.
Getting aggressive or angry on the road
If you are prone to road rage or aggressive driving (retaliating when others don’t follow the rules of the road), troubleshoot ways to stay calm. You don’t drive in a vacuum–your actions affect other people! Staying calm could be the difference between life and death. You could try practicing deep breathing whenever you start feeling your emotions getting the better of you. Or try listening to relaxing music and podcasts to help ground you. Also, don’t drive when you’re hungry or exhausted; these physical factors can make you more cranky than usual.