Almost every driver on our roads has experienced some sort of accident whether it be as a witness or someone directly involved. While many of them couldn’t have been avoided, a large percentage could have. Improved vehicle safety and legislation has largely made our roads safer than decades gone by, however the current generation has its own problems to deal with. We’ve identified 3 of the worst habits Aussie drivers have. Make sure you don’t fall victim to any as may end up being the difference of life and death!
Two hands on the wheel is the only correct way to drive. There’s a reason why you won’t pass your driving test if you decide to try and ‘one-hand’ it. In an emergency situation that relies on a quick reaction time, you have a much greater chance of keeping control of the car with two hands on your steering wheel. It may not look as impressive or feel as comfortable, but the single-hand option is never a safe one. Many don’t know that it is actually illegal to drive with only a single hand on the wheel unless you are changing gears or using an indicator.
There is never any benefit in tailgating another motorist. Drivers guilty of this one will often defer the blame onto the car in front of them who is usually “driving too slow in the fast lane”. In reality it’s a dangerous practise and in an emergency-braking situation there’s a good chance you’ll get caught out because of it.
Despite even basic logic telling you tailgating is unsafe, any motorist who has ever been on Melbourne’s highways will likely tell you that a huge proportion of drivers are guilty of it. Studies have shown the average driver will take between 1.5 – 2 seconds to react in an emergency situation on the road. At 100kmph, a car will travel 42 meters in 1.5 seconds. If you’re tailgating a car that has to suddenly brake, you’ll have close to zero chance of avoiding it.
Overloading The Back
A lot of us take more with us in our cars than just passengers. Whether it be work tools, sports equipment, the kids toys or even groceries, that back seat can fill up fast. It’s important to not let things get away from you though, as the last thing you want is something obstructing your rear line of vision. If your rear-view mirror isn’t showing the full picture, it can be disorienting and impair your decision making on the road.
If you have to take loads of stuff with you on your journey, give some order and organisation to the backseat. A Car Organiser is just one accessory that can help straighten that interior out!
Using Your Phone
We’ve all been in the passenger seat of that one friend or family member’s car who has a problem with using their phone when behind the wheel. A 2011 study from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety shows that 1 in 4 accidents on the road are the result of mobile phone use. The study also estimates 59% of drivers surveyed reported they had used their phone while driving.
The figures are certainly alarming, and similarly to tailgating – the consequences of this habit can be disastrous to yourself and others. Hands-free options and phone holders can be a great option for those needing to use their phone as a GPS device. For anyone needing to make a call or message, pulling over and off the road is the only correct way to do so.
Thongs On The Pedals
There are few things more Aussie than the warm rubbery feeling of thongs beneath your feet. Chucking on a pair of flip flops is almost enough of an excuse to head to the beach in the summer. They’re not suited for every occasion however, and one place they don’t belong is the driver’s seat. A pair of thongs gives your feet some much needed freedom, but to have full control over your pedals, you need precise control. Flip flops may slide around, confuse the space between your foot and pedal and even get stuck beneath them in the case of an emergency.
Loose-fitting footwear like thongs aren’t technically illegal. If you have an accident and authorities think it was a contributing factor however, you could be in hot water. We’d always recommend keeping a spare pair of shoes somewhere in the car so you’re never caught out. If thongs are the only footwear you have on you, even driving barefoot is usually a better option!
These are only some examples of poor habits that drivers on our road may suffer from. There is no benefit to any of these and each includes a much greater risk of consequences. For anyone looking to improve their driving skills on the road, a safe driving course can be a great idea, and ensure you are prepared as best you can be for emergency situations.