Are You a Safe Driver? 7 Dangerous Habits to Correct During the New Year

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Let’s face it: everyone thinks they are a good driver. Experience behind the wheel can often be mistaken for true competence, however. As time goes on, you may be reinforcing your own bad habits, putting yourself in danger of collision or accident and relying solely on your history of “getting away with it”. Many of us have adopted unsafe and sometimes even hazardous driving habits that could be putting us and others at great risk.

The start of a new year is a great time to remind yourself of the right way – and wrong way – of doing things so that you can be mindful and take action to correct these bad habits. For most of the country, it’s also the time of the year when we are driving on ice and possibly snow, so be especially mindful of dangerous driving conditions.

Safe driver
Safe driver


Following too closely behind the car in front of you is a bad idea any time of year. In the winter, it can lead to disastrous results. It’s also incredibly irritating for both parties – the car in front is annoyed that the car behind them is so close, while the driver that is tailgating is annoyed that the driver in front of them won’t go faster. Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s always recommended that the car behind stay a car length behind for every 10 mph they are traveling, and in the winter, especially during bad conditions, that length increases. If you find yourself tailgating, slow down and wait for the right opportunity to pass.

Cell Phone Use

Even though it is against the law in most states, many people still use their cell phones while driving. It might be to return a text, to make a call, or to check the weather. If you must use your cell phone, find an appropriate place to pull over to complete the task. If there are children or teens in the car, remember that you are leading by example, and when you make the right choices, they are more likely to as well.

Not Cross Checking through Intersections

Just because the light is green, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe to go through the intersection. If you don’t already, get into the habit of scanning the intersection before making your way through it. Icy conditions may cause drivers to slide right through the light when braking, and others may be trying to beat the red light.

Driving too Fast for Conditions

There are several issues that can arise from driving too fast in the winter. It can cause jackknifing, loss of traction and loss of vehicle control. People often underestimate the severity of the road condition and overinflate their confidence in their ability to handle both their car and the roads. If you find yourself stepping on the gas too much, ease up. The coffee will still be hot when you get to Starbucks!

Failing to Notice Deteriorating Conditions

Anything can happen during the winter, and it usually does. Lake effect snow and rapidly falling temperatures can turn a sunny day of driving into a terribly hazardous situation. Accidents are usually caused by reduced visibility and reduced tire traction. Always be aware of the weather and road conditions so that you can either slow down and drive accordingly or get off the road and to somewhere safe.

Pushing through Yellow Lights

This is something nearly every driver is guilty of at one time or another. In the hurried hustle-bustle of today’s world, everyone is trying to get to where they need to go – and fast. But if you don’t make the yellow light, you’re actually holding up others who do have the green light – and you could risk a collision. In the wintertime, pushing through a yellow light is sometimes unavoidable, honk your way through the intersection if you’re sliding through it when it’s almost red.

Not Keeping Tires Properly Inflated

Checking tires often in the winter is crucial, as the cold air can lead to tires being underinflated. Tires that don’t have the appropriate air pressure will wear more quickly, can result in internal tire damage, and can lead to sudden tire failure – a blowout –  which can cause injury or death.

Having the Correct Car Insurance

You’ve read through the above-listed tips and checked them all off. You feel like you are a good – and safe – driver. But accidents can still happen. Are you properly prepared with good, cheap car insurance? Your state has a minimum requirement for car insurance, but it’s often helpful to get a little more than that, just to help you out financially if the unexpected happens.

It’s time to change those bad habits into good ones, be safer on the road, and get through the new year with less accident risk!

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Lenny is one of the contributors here at Backpacker Travel. Her favorite destination is the Philippines.

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