12 Things to Never Do While Driving
Unfortunately, there's no shortage of apparently brainless drivers on our roads.
Driving while tired is every bit as dangerous as driving while under the influence. When sleepy, drivers have slower reaction times and are likely to fall asleep at the wheel. When your body needs rest, it's going to get it, one way or another, so it's best to just stop for a rest. You might get to your destination later than planned, but that's a small price to pay for your safety and the drivers sharing the road with you.
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Speeding is leading cause of traffic fatalities in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limit accounted for 22 per cent of all fatal accidents in the U.S. Operating a vehicle under the influence ranked as the second most common cause of fatal crashes, attributing to 14 per cent." The faster you drive, the more likely it is the aftermath of the car crash will be worse. Speeding limits exist for drivers and passengers safety.
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You probably know that driving barefoot isn’t the safest choice. When you’re used to driving in shoes, driving without them can feel foreign, and that’s not what you want when operating a motor vehicle. “It requires you to put more pressure on the pedals than you usually do when wearing shoes, says Laura Adams, a safety and education analyst at driversed.com. “That could affect your braking time, putting you at risk.” But Tehrani acknowledges that barefoot driving is actually a preferable option to driving with some of these other dangerous shoe options, especially if said shoes are particularly uncomfortable. Driving barefoot at least “allows one to have more control of the pedals and a direct feel for any deviations while applying pressure to the brake or gas pedal,” she explains. However, its other drawbacks make it risky enough that you should avoid it.
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According to J. Peter Kissinger, president of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, "Aggressive driving contributes to 56 per cent of all fatal car crashes." Road rage, angry outbursts, and arguing in your car can make you vulnerable in more ways than one. According to a 2014 research review from the Harvard School of Public Health, it’s possible angry outbursts both on and off the road can trigger a heart attack or stroke hours later.
Learn how to avoid becoming a victim of road rage.
Not wearing your seatbelt
Putting on a seat belt is such an easy thing to do. According to NHTSA, seat belts saved more than 75,000 lives between 2004 and 2008. Airbags make cars safer, but they're designed to work in conjunction with seat belts, which help prevent passenger ejection during high speed crashes and rollovers.
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Music during road trips and long commutes aren’t a problem, but using headphones isn’t the best thing to do while driving in your car. Richard Reina, product training director at the aftermarket auto retailer CARiD.com, says “headphones decrease your awareness even more by filtering out other noises more than just your car’s speakers.” Although it’s safer to make calls with headphones rather than taking a hand off the wheel, Reina says to be extra cautious since outside sounds will be harder to hear.
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Reckless driving in unsafe weather conditions
When the roads get bad because of weather conditions, slowing down and being hyper aware of your surroundings is the best way to avoid an accident. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this common sense rule. If you're lucky enough to have all-wheel drive on your vehicle, this isn't an excuse for driving fast in bad weather. So be safe, slow down and leave more than a little space between your car and the one in front of you.
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This is another no-no, and it's really just basic common sense to keep your eyes on the road. Despite knowing the dangers of texting and driving, many people still do it. If using your cell phone for anything other than directions while driving is a temptation, simply turn it off. That way, you won’t feel obligated to pick it up and respond to a text or answer a call when you hear the notification ding or phone call ring.
Use these tricks to stop yourself from texting and driving.
Driving extremely close to the car in front of you is dangerous and if they stop suddenly, you are at fault for the accident. However, if the car behind you is tailgating and honking, pull over and let it by; it may be a legitimate emergency. If a car is tailgating you on the highway for no apparent reason, pull over to the right-hand lane as soon as it’s safe for you to do so and let the driver pass. Even when it’s not your “fault,” it is unsafe to travel with another vehicle at such close proximity.
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Driving under the influence
We all know the effects of drunk driving or driving while under any kind of influence, so let's just keep it at this: don't do it. Follow common-sense guidelines like taking a Lyft or Uber or using a designated driver if you're planning on drinking alcohol.
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Focusing on anything other than driving means you’re distracted and more prone to accidents. “Putting on make-up while driving, along with any other distracting activities, doubles the reaction time a driver needs to put their foot on the brake,” says Stephanie Schwartz, owner of Roadrunner Traffic School. Most people also adjust their mirrors to see themselves while they’re putting on their makeup, which means you’re not using your mirror to look at the cars around you. Even if you’re parked, keeping your makeup in your car could actually damage some of your products and make them vulnerable to mold growth, per the Zoe Report.
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Driving with your seat too far back
Drivers should be in the best possible position to control their car—and people don’t have that same control if they’re too far from the wheel. “Aside from your ability to reach the pedals and react quickly to road events, you may need to control your lights, wipers, or other systems at a moment’s notice and have a hard time doing so if you’re seated too far back,” Reina says.
Now that you know the things that can damage your vehicle, learn the car maintenance tasks you don’t need to go to the shop for.