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15 most common driving mistakes you’re probably guilty of

Every driver is guilty of common driving mistakes and all of the below faux pas impact either your wallet, driving licence or someone’s safety. Have a read through the top 15 driving mistakes. If you recognise any in your own driving style, think about why it’s a bad idea and correct the mistake next time you’re behind the wheel.

driving mistakes

1. Stopping without warning

In a busy city it’s surprisingly common to come across drivers who stop in all sorts of strange places. On one way streets, pedestrian crossings, taxi ranks – you name it, drivers will stop there without warning. Often it’s to pick up a passenger on the move. However, if you disrupt the flow of traffic by parking in a no-parking zone, you are contravening the law. Don’t be surprised if you ever get a talking to (or worse) by the police.

2. Failing to indicate

Not using your indicators before making a turn or changing lanes is highly dangerous and causes multiple accidents each year. The indicators should be used before you brake for a turn or before you change direction on the motorway. It ‘indicates’ your intention to manoeuvre to the driver behind you, making yours and their drive much safer in the process.

3. Leaving high beams on

It’s quite hard to drive when you’re blinded by the lights. Leaving your high beams on when there’s oncoming traffic is a sure way to annoy other drivers.

4. Crossing lanes while turning

A strange problem that many drivers believe to be harmless. However, when you change lanes while turning at a crossroads, you are effectively ignoring the possibility that someone is in your blind spots, especially smaller vehicles, such as cycles, scooters and motorbikes. Be considerate to these road users, as they are the most vulnerable people on the roads.

5. Tailgating

To be a competent driver, you’ve got to know your stopping distances. Not off by heart, mind, just enough to get the gist that tailgating is a really bad idea. Don’t follow another driver and be right up their backside. This will end in disaster should they stop or brake without warning. It takes 1.5 seconds to react to a problem in the road and in that time your car will travel 12 metres at 40mph before you apply the brakes. Not good if your front bumper is 10 inches from the car in front.

6. Speeding

car speedingThe easiest way to avoid speeding fines is to simply drive under the speed limit. Speed limits are in place to accommodate the road conditions. A 30 miles per hour speed limit often means you’re driving through a residential area where people live. It’s therefore important to slow down because if someone is hit by a car travelling at 40mph, it’s 90% likely to kill them. If a person is struck by a car travelling at 30mph, their chance of survival increases by 40%. Kill your speed, not someone else.

7. Driving continuously in the middle and outside lanes

Driving in the middle or outside lanes of a motorway and not switching to the inside lane when it is safe to do so puts everyone behind you at risk. Essentially, you are giving other drivers no choice but to pass on the passenger side of your vehicle, where your blind spot is at its largest. If you decide to change lanes at the wrong moment, this will cause a very serious accident.

8. Speeding through a yellow light

A favourite pastime of impatient drivers everywhere, speeding up to catch a yellow light is far from best practice. The only time this is recommended is if slamming on the brakes could cause the car to skid and therefore be less safe. This is rarely the case, however, as traffic lights on high speed roads have much longer yellow intervals than those found on 30-40mph roads. Yellow, if you were wondering, indicates that you must prepare to stop for the red light.

9. Low tyre pressure

tyre pressure checking device
Having the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle will ensure your safety. It will also mean better fuel economy, better handling and cornering, increases in the tyres’ lifespan and incurs bigger savings over time. To learn how to correctly check your tyre pressures, read the Tyres Northampton tyre pressure checking guide.

10. Bad seating position

It’s common to find that drivers sit too far away from their steering wheels and pedals. If this is you, then you might discover sitting slightly closer gives you more control over your vehicle and keeps you from becoming distracted. An upright posture will also help, especially when driving at night. Don’t aim for a deckchair-like repose. If it helps, think of racing car drivers and their bolt-upright bucket seats that keep them alert and in control.

11. Poor mirror visibility

Wing mirrors don’t need to show a side portion of your own car at all. This is a common myth that needs slewing by driving instructors and yet it is still taught in driving schools everywhere. Adjust your mirrors until you can’t see the side of your own vehicle and this will minimise your blind spots.

12. Getting distracted when driving

driver getting distracted by the phoneIt ain’t easy driving long distances and driving familiar routes isn’t interesting. No wonder we get distracted while driving. Phones, satnavs, snacks, children, pets – literally anything to help get us home after a long drive. However, if you use a device that isn’t secured to the dashboard, drink from an unsealed cup or snack whilst driving, you’re eligible for a fine should the rozzers cotton on. What’s worse, one third of road accidents are caused by driver distractions on today’s roads. Music, for young drivers in particular, will have a negative effect on concentration. Avoid fast music – whether it’s techno or pirate metal – and you’ll make 50% fewer driving mistakes.

13. Mis-fueling

It costs motorists thousands every year but mis-fueling is still a common mistake. Put diesel in a petrol car and it will belch smoke and run rough – if at all. The system will need professionally draining in this instance. Put petrol in a diesel car and it will act as a solvent and not lubricate your engine properly. This can cause the most damage of the two. Another, lesser form of mis-fueling is the belief that premium fuel is always better for your car. This is not the case as not all cars are designed to run exclusively on high octane fuel. Check your owner’s manual to be master of this one.

14. Riding the clutch

Does resting your foot on the clutch wear it out? It certainly does. Some people are erroneously told from older drivers that resting your foot over the clutch might speed up your response time in an emergency braking situation. However, depressing the clutch slightly whilst driving will cause heat in the clutch components and unnecessary wear. Also, depressing the clutch fractions of a second after hitting the brakes increases the chance of introducing a small amount of engine braking before the actual brakes take over the job of stopping the car. Be safe and money-savvy by resting your foot away from the clutch pedal.

15. Riding the brakes

Does riding the brakes wear them out? Yes, yes it does.

Here at Tyres Northampton, we provide and install a wide range of branded tyres for cars, vans and motorcycles alike. Our professionals deliver an efficient and thorough service, and are able to deliver many types of vehicle servicing, including MOTs and exhaust and brakes servicing. To arrange a visit or to find out more about us, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our friendly team.


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