Every driver makes mistakes. Here, experts reveal those faults you may not even know you’re guilty of
If you’ve been driving for years, it can be easy to assume you are the world’s best driver. But with confidence can come complacency – and it’s easy to let skills slip. The truth is, you may not be quite as perfect as you think.
To find out how you rate behind the wheel, take a look at the list below. It outlines common mistakes made by drivers, as identified by road-safety experts. The worrying thing is that most of us don’t even know we’re making them.
1) Getting distracted
It can be tempting to peek at a text message, fiddle with the radio, or turn around to tell the kids off while driving. We only look away from the road for a few seconds, but an awful lot can happen in those precious moments.
“Taking your eye off the road, just for a second, to read an alert or check who a call came from can have potentially fatal results,” says Aviva’s Adam Beckett. “Many people do not realise it is an offence to use a mobile phone even while a vehicle is stationary in a lay-by, traffic jam, traffic lights or at the side of the road, with the engine running. We would encourage all motorists to ignore their phone until they have parked up and can safely use it.”
2) Not planning ahead
You may think leaving your route-planning to the last minute is an amusing expression of your seat-of-the-pants approach to life. But Nick Lloyd, road safety manager (England) at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), says it can be a hazardous mistake.
“You need a good idea of where you’re going and how long it is likely to take,” he says. “If not, you’ll end up rushing, and that significantly increases your chances of a crash.”
3) Poor signalling at roundabouts
Everyone knows the drill at roundabouts. Signal right if your exit is past 12 o’clock, thereby sending a clear message to other road users about your intentions.
But IAM’s Mr Lewis says too many people forget the next part of the sequence: signalling left when they want to turn off. “You should do this midway through the junction before the one you’re taking,” he advises. “That will ensure everyone knows where you’re headed and will clear a path accordingly.”
4) Insufficient use of mirrors
Remember the rule from your driving-test days: mirror, signal, manoeuvre. Mr Lewis says this is frequently forgotten by seasoned drivers, who don’t even realise their lack of attention to mirrors.
“For example,” he states, “many drivers don’t look in their mirrors when in traffic to see if cyclists or motorcyclists are trying to filter past. That greatly increases the chances of driving into them.”
5) Not drinking enough water
Perhaps the most surprising mistake of all. What on earth have your drinking habits got to do with road safety?
The answer is a great deal. Because as Mr Lewis explains: “A one per cent drop in hydration has a massive impact on concentration levels. Many drivers don’t realise this, and therefore don’t drink nearly enough water to keep them on the ball for the duration of their journey.”
His advice is simple: “Drink plenty. And if it means you have to stop more regularly, that will be a further aid to warding off fatigue”.