In US roads, there are more than 250 million cars. This incredible number also brings many problems with it. More cars on the road doesn’t necessarily mean more accidents or car collisions but it means we need to educate more people to avoid more injuries and deaths. Having said that, I did a list of 50 bad driving habits that have the potential to shorten your life

Top 50 Bad Driving Habits

According to World Health Organization[1], average road fatalities per 100.000 inhabitants per year is 17.4. US rank is 60th according to same statistics. This is a very big contradiction with United Nations Human Development Index. This index[2] shows how well developed countries in terms of humanly living. In this list US is number 10.

Here is my list for 50 bad driving habits.

1. Talking on a Cell Phone

Bad Driving Habits

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This is by far the very first reason of many fatalities in the roads. It is one of the main distraction reasons. According to a study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [3] and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute , when a driver loses attention just only for 3 seconds,  it may lead a serious traffic accidents or near miss. This study shows that 80 percent of automobile accidents involve some kind of distraction that happens in just 3 seconds. Well, it might be boring when the traffic is jammed and you want to play with cell phone but choose one of them; live longer or talk longer?

2. Sending Text Messages

This is one of the other reasons of accidents on the roads. While texting may shift from SMS to WhatsApp and other similar internet based texting services with call and video option, the danger to use a mobile phone for texting didn’t change at all. Texting which is a major distraction factor may increase the risk of a car accident more than 23 times.  The researchers also claims that sending text messages via your mobile phone may create  a true crash epidemic if texting continues to grow in popularity. [4]

3. Trying to Reach a Moving Object

Many of us are familiar with similar scenes from Hollywood movies. While our antagonist or protagonist is trying to reach something in the glove-box, accidents happen. It is a very common reason for accidents that it became a movie cliche as well. For a safe drive, you must give the road your full attention. Drivers that divert their awareness  risk the lives of the other drivers on the road.

4. Looking at an Object or Event Outside of the Vehicle

Well I think any of who reads this article may witness a similar incident while driving. There may be an ambulance near the road because of an accident and almost all drivers slow down to see the crash scene and this one moment may result car collisions. Even if you see an UFO flying over your car, keep your eyes on your steering wheel for safety. To be abducted by an alien might be safer than being dead.

5. Reading a Book or Newspaper

You may an avid read but do you need to read it while driving? Even the novel you are reading is the only one single copy in the world, is it worth to risk your life and others life on the road?

6. Eating  While Driving

Everyone is busy these days. You have no time to eat your lunch and you have to catch up the next meeting on time so you choose to eat while driving. But do you know, eating while driving is also another major factor of distraction. That one moment when you leave the steering wheel to take an apple from your lunch-box may be your last moment. Be careful! Try to eat at your kitchen before you drive.

7. Applying Make Up

This scene is also very familiar to many of us. Especially when the traffic light is red, you can think of this short moment is a good opportunity to refresh your makeup. But this is also the moment that you close your eye-sight in front of you or something that prevents you seeing the traffic light. So applying make up also seems one of the important bad driving habits and major reason for distraction.

8. Speeding

You’ve seen many drivers who ignore speed limit and sometimes go over 30 mph over the limit. Speed may kill and traveling above the speed limit is one of the common reasons for accidents. Your reaction time is directly related to your speed. If you go faster, your reactions become slower. It is one of the bad driving habits that has to change immediately. Speed limits were set as a result of scientific research made by traffic engineers. So try to avoid this bad driving habit because even if you exceed the speed limit just 10%, this may cause an accident in a wrong place.

9. Drunk Driving

Each year, thousands of car accidents with drunk drivers cause tragedy and grief, making it one of the top causes of automobile accidents. It is very obvious that when you drink, you’ll lose your sense of vision and hearing and also you’ll lose muscle coordination. This is  a deadly combination for driving a car. In 2007 alone, about 13,000 wrongful deaths occurred in fatal car accidents with drunk drivers. The dark side of driving under influence is that most of the times he drunk driver survives, but tragically, innocent people are usually killed. Quit this very bad driving habit and also if possible quit drinking heavily and learn to drink responsibly.

10. Driving Under Influence of Drugs

Drug may mean many things. We are not only talking about illegal drugs here but some type of prescription medicine is also considered as drug such as depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens. Each drug affects the human brain in a distinctly different way. As we all know marijuana or similar drugs have highly addictive substance that impacts brain’s reaction time, coordination and judgment. Thus usage of these materials will cause accidents.  Well while some form weed is not illegal in California, we only recommend you not to use this substance while driving. We are not living in 70’s when smoking while driving may seem funny as in Cheech and Chong movies.

11. Improper Turns

There are thousands of serious car accident every year that are caused by improper turning. This bad driving habit needs to be changed forever. Wrong turn may put a car directly in front of or into the path of an oncoming vehicle. A simple oversight of looking for the blind spots may prevent you making an accident. Improper turns is one of the major causes of car accidents and often leads to injuries or death.

Here is “Don’ts” of Turns: 

  • Do not turn when there is a no turn on red sign.
  • Do not turn without a complete stop or without yielding.
  • Do not turn when there is red light that says “don’t turn”.
  • Do not forget to use your signals before turning
  • Do not turn having right of way.

12. Running Red Lights

Everyone knows that red means stop. If you don’t stop on red usually, you have a bad driving habit. Running on red is one of the cause of wrongful deaths because it is dangerous and often cause side impact damages to other cars at high speeds.

13. Running a Stop Sign

Stop signs are important part of traffic.  You must completely make a full stop on stop signs. If you have a bad driving habit like not to stop on stop sign, you can be a real threat to other drivers or pedestrians. Also running a stop sign may cost you $238 as traffic ticket in California.

14. Unproper Lane Change

Another bad driving habit is not change lanes properly. Don’t rush to change the lane because there is always a good moment for it. If you don’t change lane safely or zigzagging with your car, you risk other driver’s life. For a proper and safe lane change, you should signal at least 100 feet before lane change, use your turn signal, check your blind spots and proceed carefully.

15. Wrong-Way Driving

Well this is not only a bad driving habit, it is also a lethal game that you don’t want to play. You can mistakenly turn to a street and may pose a big threat other driver’s life. So be careful and check “wrong way” signs always. If you are not a stunt or in a movie, never drive in wrong way. 

16. Tailgating

You may be an impatient driver or in a hurry but this doesn’t give you the right to tailgate to other drivers. What if the driver in front of you breaks suddenly or panics when there is a tailgated car behind his or her car. Remember the 3 seconds rule and always leave at least 3 seconds driving distance between you and the car in front of you. This bad driving habit was a cause of 22 deaths only in 204.

17. Drowsy driving

If you are too tired, too sleepy or too exhausted, this means you are drowsy and probably this will impact your driving skills. Especially at night or very close to down, drowsy driving can cause accidents. You can easily find many news because of people fall asleep at the wheel. Quit this bad driving habit. If you are too drowsy, pull over and have a quick nap. It is better than an eternal sleep.

18. Deadly curves

Some people call them dead man’s curves, but everyone should be careful when approaching a curve. It is easy to lose control of the vehicle along a dangerous curve and this may be deadly. If you have a bad driving habit like speeding up when you approach curves, quit it immediately. Drive cautiously and be safe, you are not in an F-1 race.

19. Street racing

Street race! Come on, this is not a Fast and Furious movie. This is real life and there are no turbo engines, nitros and other fancy gadgets. if you want to die young with a handsome simple, it is up to you. Otherwise avoid this bad driving habit and avoid danger. You can easily risk your life and other people’s life just because of your street racing fantasy.

20. Suddenly braking

This may seem odd but sudden breaks may cause car accidents. This bad driving habit is not only one of the causes of accidents but it is also a bad habit to harm your car’s brakes.

21. Driving without headlights

If you are not a secret spy and have a meaningful reason to hide yourself, don’t turn off your headlights or if they are broken, get them fixed immediately.

22. Accelerating on yellow light

Some drivers may be really impatient and they don’t give enough attention to the traffic lights. There is an order while the traffic lights are working. If it is red and yellow together, this means green light is coming afterwards. But if it is only yellow, this means it is going to turn red, not to green. So when you see a yellow light, you have to slow down. If you accelerate, this means you have a bad driving habit that may cause to tragic accidents which may lead casualties.

23. Parking to wrong spaces

Parking to non-parking areas may not be deadly but it is certainly a bad driving habit. When you park your car to a non-parking zone, it may prevent the traffic flow and may cause other drivers involve in car collisions.

24. Road rage

If you are in unpleasant situation with another driver, it is easy to get angry. But anger brings nothing than harm. By tailgating another driver in anger or speeding past another driver only to pull in front of them and brake, these bad driving habits cause too man car accidents each year. If you can’t keep your calm at traffic, better see a doctor instead of racing and quit this bad driving habit.

25. Driving without a seat belt

This may not be so common in California but in other areas of US may be also in California, millions of drivers use their cars without a seat belt buckled up.  The most reliable method of saving lives and preventing injuries from occurring is to wear a seat belt. Here are some facts that encourage to wear a seat belt while driving.[5]

  • Seat belts can reduce injury and death rates by 50%
  • Adults aged 18-34 are less likely to wear seat belts than those 35 or older
  • Men are 10% less likely to wear seat belts than women
  • 58% of teen drivers killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt in 2011.
  • Teens have the lowest seat belt use of any other age group

26. Ignoring child passenger safety

This bad driving habit is one of the top reasons of child death in car accidents. In 2015 only, 1,346 children under age 15 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. That’s more than three children every day. Properly securing children in safety seats goes a long way in keeping them safer.

A reminder:  Child Passenger Safety Week is Sept. 23-29, 2018

27.  Ignoring Traffic Signs

Do you blow through stop signs or fail to yield when it’s required of you?  Those signs are there for a reason, and even if no one’s around, you should obey them. You never know when a car or pedestrian might come out of nowhere, or even a cop!

28. Not Checking Blind Spots

Blind spots are implicitly dangerous, but not even trying to check them is more dangerous. Drivers who have a bad driving habit may not have a tendency to start moving over into other lanes and nearly colliding with other cars. This may be a reason for  anxiety and distraction, Quit this bad driving habit and check your mirrors before changing lanes, and don’t forget to check blind spots with moving your head right or left. [6]

29. Merging improperly

How many times have you been on a freeway on-ramp and found yourself behind someone who doesn’t understand how to merge? These slow drivers not only slow the flow of traffic, but also they put others in danger. There are also some drivers who are in a hurry. They act as if they are in a racing and try to put themselves in front of other cars. This is also wrong and a bad driving habit.

30. Not using turn signals

Believe me there is a reason why car makers invent turn signals. If you don’t tell other people where you’re going, how can you expect them to know? Changing lanes or turning without signaling throws others off, and it could put you in harm’s way. If you don’t turn on your signal while slowing down, other cars behind you get caught off guard.

31. Cutting other cars off

You may be in a hurry but believe me, everyone in California is in hurry. So cutting other cars off is not a solution to make you arrive early to your destination. Cutting off is a dangerous and bad driving habit. When you jump in front of another car, you increase the risk of being hit from behind because maybe the other driver is not paying attention.  Don’t put yourself in this situation! What a bad driving habit!

32. Driving with headphones on

Listening to music on your car radio can be distracting enough. If this is not enough for distraction, you can wear your headphones. But doing so, you make it impossible for yourself to hear important noises like horns, alarms or emergency vehicle sirens. This is not only a bad driving habit but also it is illegal in most states.

Bad Driving Habits that may damage your car

Bad Driving Habits

So far we reviewed bad driving habits that may cause direct impact to your life or other people’s lives. But there are other bad driving habits which have a bad impact on your car’s health. So if you car is healthy, then this means you’ll be healthier and you’ll be able to avoid nasty situations while driving. [7]

33. Resting your hand on the shifter

Unless you’re actively changing gears, there’s no reason to touch the shifter. Resting your hand on the shifter places weight on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers, causing internal wear. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel, and only taking one off to switch gears, is the best idea. This is bad driving habit that can damage your car.

34. Not using the parking break

Neglecting to use the parking brake forces the entire weight of your vehicle to rest on the parking pawl, which is one little piece of metal within the transmission. Doing this could cause the parking pawl to eventually wear out and break, making “P” on your shifter effectively useless. Use the parking brake every time – there’s really no reason not to. You can get rid of this bad driving habit.

35. Hauling unneeded weight

You may not drive a Lotus, but the phrase “simplify, and add lightness” applies to every car. We’re not advocating stripping out sound deadening or removing the back seats, but you should clear out unneeded cargo from your car. Every pound of extra weight impacts fuel economy and handling, plus causes extra stress on suspension, brake, and drive-train components. Give your interior and trunk a thorough clean so you’re only carrying the essentials.

36. Keeping small amount fuel on tank

Sometimes the cost of a full tank of gas doesn’t fit into your budget, so you only add a gallon or two at a time. Most drivers don’t know that this can lead to costly repairs further down the road. Modern fuel pumps are cooled by being submerged in fuel, so driving with only a small amount of fuel causes it to heat up and wear out more quickly. Keeping your gas tank at least a quarter full helps prevent this.

37. Hard starts and stops

This one’s a no-brainer. Mashing on the gas can be fun, but uses significantly more fuel than gradually applying throttle. Sudden stops are sometimes necessary, but cause faster wear to the brake pads and rotors. Looking ahead, planning ahead, and pressing on the pedals smoothly is the best strategy. So always try to avoid this bad driving habit.

38. Revving the Engine When It’s Cold

It’s not a bad idea to let the engine idle for a minute or two after a cold start. This helps it warm up and gives the oil some time to circulate. However, you should resist the urge to rev the engine when it’s cold. Sure, the exhaust sounds great, but revving it when it’s cold causes abrupt temperature changes that can damage components. It also causes undue wear on parts of the engine that haven’t been lubricated by thorough oil circulation. Your engine will sound better, and rev more smoothly, once it’s had a chance to warm up.

39. Riding the Clutch

You’re at a stop light in your manual transmission car. You’re pressing on the clutch, ready to drop it as soon as the light turns green. All that time spent waiting with the clutch in damages the pressure plate, release bearing, and release arm. Riding the clutch causes its surfaces graze against each other, wearing them down and opening the possibility for sudden failure. It’s better to be stopped with the clutch out and shifter in neutral, only pressing the clutch and engaging gear when the light turns green.

40. Switching From Reverse to Drive Before Stopping Completely

When you’re trying to fit into a tight parking spot, it’s common to shift from reverse to drive while still slowly rolling backwards. This habit should be avoided at all costs. Doing so places strain on the drive train when it’s suddenly forced to move in the opposite direction. Simply take that extra moment to make sure you’re completely stopped before switching from reverse to drive.

41. Dragging the Brakes Downhill

Driving down a steep hill can be daunting, so you rest your foot on the brake pedal to be ready to slow down at a moment’s notice. This causes strain and heat to build up in the brake system, wearing out components like brake pads and rotors. Instead, you should shift into a lower gear when you’re driving downhill. This will cause engine braking, which helps slow the car down through natural drivetrain decompression. You’ll find that engine braking can be as effective as regular braking in maintaining your downhill speed.

42. Ignoring Warning Signs of Your car

It’s easy to ignore those little squeaks, intermittent rattles, or other unusual noises your car makes. Those sounds are warning signs that something’s wearing out or about to go wrong. Don’t wait to find out the cause of the noise, or it may make itself abundantly clear at the worst possible time. If your car is making strange sounds or giving you other warning signs, it’s important to inspect the issue right away.

Here are some bonus facts about bad driving habits

43. Driving too fast for the weather conditions

When the weather gets bad, slowing down is the best way to avoid an accident. This goes back to that physics thing. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that. All-wheel drive isn’t an excuse for driving fast in inclement weather. When the road surface is slippery, a 3,500- to 5,000-pound vehicle will probably skid if you need to slow down in a hurry. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 24 percent of all vehicle crashes are weather related. That’s a good reason to slow down and leave a little space between your car and the one in front.  [8]

44. Drafting tractor trailers

Following closely behind a tractor trailer can increase your fuel economy. That doesn’t mean you should do it. Drafting works for NASCAR drivers, so it makes sense that a 4,000-pound car can “hide” in the low pressure zone behind a 13-foot-tall, 80,000-pound big rig. Back in 2007, the MythBusters even proved that it worked. But they also pointed out that following closer than 150 feet behind a truck is really dangerous. Even that distance gives a driver less than two seconds to react if the trucker suddenly slams on the brakes. Other things to consider are that truck drivers can’t see what’s directly behind them, and the relationship between trailer heights and car hood heights is a recipe for decapitation.  [9]

45. Failure to yield the right of way

One of the leading causes of accidents, hands down, is failure to yield the right of way. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that it’s the top cause of accidents among drivers aged 70 and older, particularly on freeway merge ramps. In Uncommon Carriers, his book about long haul truckers, John McPhee points out that space cadets in the merge lane are a constant source of teeth-grinding anxiety for the people driving 80,000-pound big rigs. Another facet of failure to yield that’s more prevalent in cities is running stop signs and red lights. Drivers coming from other directions expect the intersection to be clear when the light on their end turns green. Once again, predictability is good.

46. Disregarding the speed limit

Though posted speed limits vary by state, use the following ranges as a general guide if you don’t see a posted limit:

  • Residential area: 15-30 mph
  • Undivided road (rural): 40-55 mph
  • Divided road (rural): 55-70 mph
  • Freeway: 55-65 mph

These last 4 bad driving habits are unique to California.

So if you want to add more to my list; feel free to contact me. 

47. The California Cut

You’ll see this lethal maneuver every time you drive on the freeway: what happens is that someone realizes that the next freeway exit is theirs, and that they’re way over in the fast lane, with less than one hundred meters to the exit, or they’re just tired of driving in the rightmost lane and decide to get into the fast lane several lanes over.  [10]  The usual solution is the “California Cut” — a multi-lane cut across the traffic, making a beeline for the exit or the fast lane, cutting an oblivious swath through fast moving traffic. This causes (at best) screeched tires, heart-stopping swerves, and traffic problems for everyone around the lane-cutter. Why couldn’t they wait for the next exit? Who knows?

48. Assault stereos

If you’re new to America you might be astonished by the common use of violently loud car sound systems in urban and suburban areas. These things can shake other cars from across the road, and closing the windows won’t make the noise go away. Assault stereos are easily audible whole city blocks from the source; many Death Cars have assault stereos. When a car equipped with an assault stereo comes up behind or beside you, there’s little you can do but try to let it get well in front of you, and hope you don’t end up behind or beside it at the next lights.

49. Death Cars

Death cars are large, usually old and battered, American cars driven by young males, sometimes sub-teenage, nearly always unlicensed or uninsured, who have nothing to lose by causing traffic havoc or accidents. You develop a sixth sense for death cars after a while, but as with most of these things, there’s not a lot you can do when one’s coming at you on the wrong side of the road at forty miles an hour. Your best bet is to avoid known Death Car areas  and steer clear of any large old American cars, especially ones weaving along the road at high speed. Death Cars  are guaranteed not to stay around if they cause or are part of an accident. Death Car drivers are likely to be armed; it’s best not to argue with them.

50. Self-righteous or clueless cyclists and skaters

Places like Berkeley, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Oakland, Venice in L.A. or Palo Alto have a high proportion of people who suddenly become transformed by the act of riding a bicycle or skateboard. Mostly the transformation is fairly harmless, but in quite a few cases the person becomes either unbearably self-righteous, or under the impression they’re invulnerable. Typical symptoms of this are cyclists and boarders monopolizing entire traffic lanes in heavy fast-moving traffic or  running red lights or stop signs without even slowing down then abusing you for not screeching to a halt for them when they run the red light directly in front of you.