Actions to Avoid While Driving

Top Ten Driving Habits to Avoid - Common Driving Mistakes

It's a common belief that everyone else on the road is a terrible driver, while we ourselves are excellent behind the wheel. However, the truth is that none of us are perfect drivers. Even as a certified driving instructor, I can admit that I'm not flawless.

While it's clear that activities like drinking and driving or texting and driving should be avoided, there are other, more subtle things that you should never do while driving. Here's a list of ten such things that many people do, even though they shouldn't:

1. Don't Hold Your Hands at the 10 & 2 Position on the Steering Wheel in Modern Cars

Many of us who have been driving for 20 years or more were taught to place our hands at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel. However, this is no longer the correct way to hold a steering wheel in modern vehicles. The NHTSA now recommends holding the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 or the 4 and 8 positions. This is due to the way airbags deploy in modern cars. These new recommended positions allow you to maintain control of the steering wheel while reducing the risk of injury from an airbag impact.

2. Don't Drive with Two Feet

This rule applies to vehicles with automatic transmissions. There are some exceptions, such as drivers with certain physical limitations or those driving manual transmission vehicles. However, the vast majority of drivers should not use two feet on the pedals while driving. Two-footed drivers often unknowingly rest their left foot on the brake pedal, activating the brake lights and putting strain on the brake system. If you're a two-footed driver, it's time to break that habit.

3. Don't Put the Seatbelt Shoulder Strap Behind Your Back

Seatbelts can be uncomfortable, but if you're not wearing it properly, it's as good as not wearing it at all. It's illegal in most places to have the shoulder strap behind your back, and you could receive the same citation as not wearing a seatbelt at all. If the shoulder strap is uncomfortable, consider purchasing accessories to make it more comfortable, but always wear your seatbelt as it was designed.

4. Don't Drive in the Left Lane of an Expressway Unless You're Passing

Many people refer to the left lane of the expressway as the "fast lane", but a more accurate term would be the "passing lane". You should only be in the left lane if you're passing or about to pass someone. Once you've passed, move back over to the right. Don't be a "left lane hog".

5. Don't Drive Next to a Large Vehicle for Longer Than Necessary

As a former truck driver, I can't stress this enough: stay away from large vehicles. They have large blind spots and are prone to mechanical mishaps. Give them as much room as possible.

6. Don't Assume Railroad Tracks Are Safe to Cross

Railroad crossing lights are not 100% reliable. They can and do fail. When approaching railroad tracks, slow down, look down the tracks to see if a train is coming, and listen for any nearby trains.

7. Don't Use Cruise Control in Heavy Rain, Snow, or Ice

Cruise control is not designed to handle these road conditions and can cause your vehicle to lose control. Avoid using it in inclement weather.

8. Don't Wave Someone Through Traffic

While it's courteous to leave space for driveways, side streets, or business entrances when you're stopped in traffic, you should never direct anyone through. Many accidents occur because someone was waved through traffic, only to be hit by a vehicle in another lane or on the shoulder of the road.

9. Don't Escalate a Road Rage Situation

We all experience road rage from time to time. However, it's important to keep your composure while driving. Never engage with someone who is actively displaying road rage. Get as far away from them as possible.

10. Don't Drive on Medications Without Reading the Warning Label First

You can be charged with a DUI for driving under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Always check with your doctor and read the warning label before driving on new medication.

BONUS: 10 Absurd Actions People Regularly Perform While Driving

Having covered some of the less apparent things you should avoid doing while driving, let's discuss some more evident driving habits you should never engage in.

This list comprises more obvious actions to avoid while driving. We've heard these before, but it's astonishing how frequently people still commit these actions.

Please, take an honest assessment of yourself. Are you guilty of any of these actions? If so, please take some responsibility and stop doing it.

1. Texting While Driving & Surfing The Web.

Unless you possess the reflexes of a fighter jet pilot, you cannot text or surf the web safely while driving. Typing on a small phone or checking your friend's latest Facebook status means you won't see the car that just slammed on its brakes in front of you, or the little kid crossing the street. Leave your phone in your pocket or purse and take it out once the car is stopped.

2. Disciplining Children While Driving

Any parent knows that their children can become unruly from time to time in the car. Perhaps it's because they know their parents are busy and cannot discipline them as easily, but it creates an incredibly dangerous scenario. If you are disciplining your children while you are supposed to be driving, at least the majority if not all of your attention will be on what’s going on inside the vehicle and not on what’s going on outside.

3. Getting Dressed While Driving

Does anyone seriously not get this? Apparently, there are some individuals who are so incredibly busy they cannot possibly get dressed before leaving their home and getting into their car. It's almost impossible to steer a vehicle and keep your eyes on what’s going on ahead while pulling on a shirt, and you simply cannot keep even one hand on the steering wheel while tying knots or performing other tasks related to dressing.

4. Applying Makeup Or Shaving While Driving.

Yeah, this is even more common than getting dressed while driving. Maybe you think it's ridiculous, but someone reading this is guilty of it, because it happens every day in every major city in the United States.

5. Eating A Taco, Ice Cream Cone Or Other Foods.

The vast majority of us are guilty of eating while driving. But did you know eating while driving is illegal in most places? You can receive a distracted driving ticket for even scarfing down those easy-to-eat french fries.

6. Leaning Over To Reach For Something

Too often people drop something onto the floorboards, need a piece of gum out of their purse that's sitting on the backseat, or feel the need to go through the glove box while driving. Reaching so far to grab something that you lose sight of the vehicle's surroundings is as bad as placing your hand over your eyes while driving down the road.

7. Driving While Sleep Deprived

Driving while drowsy is incredibly dangerous. You might think that drinking coffee or an energy drink, rolling down the windows, chewing gum, or blasting loud music will keep you from dozing off, but the sad truth is many people fall asleep at the wheel while trying these tricks.

8. Drinking Alcohol And Driving

"Don't drink and drive." Duh. We've all heard this hundreds of times, and we all know it's dumb, selfish, illegal, and incredibly dangerous to drink and drive.

9. Steering With Your Knees While Driving

This is another obvious thing to never do while driving, and yet, it happens in every city across the United States every day. Unfortunately, certain individuals feel the need to perform two-handed tasks while driving, which is why they use their knees to steer.

10. Having An Emotional Phone Conversation.

In some areas, talking on the phone while driving is illegal, even with a hands-free device. If you live in an area where it's not illegal, you should most definitely avoid having an emotionally-charged conversation while driving.

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